the island millennial: it's time to speak up!
This island is filled with a ton of elders, and I give my respect to them. The presence of millennials, however, is slacking. If I received a dollar for every time I’ve heard a person under the age of 25 say that they want to get the fuck off this island, I’d have enough money to leave the island.
I’m a millennial. I grew up on PEI and have come to know its quirks, both the good and bad. The lingo of us islanders puts a smile on my face. Mayzil keep it up. That said, some of my beliefs very much clash with those of older generations on the Island. My belief that love is love, no matter a person's gender, is not the most popular of opinions for the older generations. Neither is my support of the legalization and selling of marijuana on the island. Or my belief that women have the right to do what’s best for them, specifically in regards to pregnancy. I definitely don’t think I’m the only millennial with these opinions.
The unfortunate thing is that, while many millennials want to leave the island to be in a more forward and open-minded environment, no one seems to want to stay and help this island grow. I understand the fact that there isn’t necessarily adequate educational and professional opportunities on the Island and I completely respect those who need to leave for those reasons. However, if you’re simply wanting to get out of here because of the close-mindedness of those around you, I think it may be worth it to reconsider. So am I sitting here calling out all of the millennials that took off right after finishing school simply to escape the Islands ignorance? Yes. But I’m also sitting here extremely jealous because I too get pissed off by the ignorance. Yet I get off the Island even less than an upwester goes to Charlottetown.
Regardless of the hypocrisy of me wanting to travel off island, I think it’s important that we acknowledge the illogic of wanting the island to change yet taking off the minute we get the chance. I get it. All the looks, the judgement and the old timey beliefs from older generations piss you off and make living here that much more difficult. We want to travel, we want to take a year or two to find ourselves before post-secondary school, we aren’t as eager to buy a house, settle down and start a family. Even for those of us who want to settle down, who’s to say we could even find a job to be able to do so.
We lead a much different life than that of our parents and grandparents. It makes sense that such a life can be difficult to understand from an older generations point of view. Twenty years ago there wasn’t even a fraction of the amount of media there is today. People are becoming more open about who they are with the increase of equal rights. And many millennials have shifted from faith-based belief to a belief in science with a sprinkle of spirituality. There are now psychiatric diagnoses for people who were once thought to be “crazy”. There is ever-growing knowledge on the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity. Things have changed rapidly for those of older generations and it’s understandable that they may need time to catch up. That said, does their older age give them an excuse to criticize? Does their age give them an excuse for ignorance and hatred? No. And the unfortunate presence of this ignorance and hate can make it even less appealing for millennials to stay on the Island.
Prince Edward Island is sheltered, and while that is good in some ways, it also inhibits the growth of beliefs and mindsets. People come here with the impression of us being an innocent, cute and beautiful little island. While this is partly true, it’s important that we don’t forget the, say, absolutely horrendous comments that happened towards the LGBTQ+ community in summer of 2017. I’m sure you remember, that was when the owner of Skips Fish n’ Chips broke a pride flag in half and called rainbow sidewalk paintings “offensive to many tourists who come here to escape this leftist agenda”. The amount of racism still present on the Island is also in need of some intervention. Especially outside of the cities, where, for example, a Sikh man was told to remove his head covering. Of course, those two things indicate a much greater need for change.
There are also many little judgements and comments that are thrown about that could use some insight. For instance, our sometimes inability to find a job isn’t due to the “laziness” that people like to accuse us of. Just as the millennials who don’t want children aren’t necessarily “confused”. Unfortunately, most of these comments seem to be coming from older generations.
As millennials, I think that it’s important to help explain our lives and our values to older generations. I think we also need to help older generations realize and accept the fact that we are of a different age than them and that our beliefs may differ from theirs, just as their beliefs may have differed from their grandparents.
While I 100% understand the want to leave this Island, I think that if we want to change this place for the better, we must stand up and explain our millennial views to the older generations. Of course, by no means am I saying that all of the older generation on the island is ignorant and judgemental towards millennials. But I do think that it would be of great help if the younger generations shared their opinions and experiences at the dinner table. Or educate the ignorant beliefs that are so prevalent on this otherwise beautiful island.
Shania MacIsaac is a Millennial. She grew up on the Island and has continued to reside here into her twenties. While she believes that this island needs more millennial perspective, she can't help but want to travel off island, explore the world and widen her perspective on life.