The provincial Liberals have passed a party resolution calling for a redesign of the Newfoundland and Labrador coat of arms and other provincial symbols, being conscious of the province’s Colonial past.
The coat of arms was designed and introduced in 1637, granted by Royal Warrant of King Charles of England to a business syndicate, known as the Company of Adventurers to Newfoundland, as noted in information provided to 2018 Liberal convention delegates in Gander.
The symbol includes two figures holding a red shield, divided into four parts by a silver cross. The figures were originally described as “savages of the clime armed and apparelled according to their guise when they go to warre.”
Torngat Mountains MHA and Inuk Randy Edmunds was given leave to speak in promotion of the resolution to pursue a change, as brought to the convention floor by the Liberal party’s Aboriginal Commission.
“I think we’ve come a lot further than that,” he said, referring to the lack of understanding of the province and its people, as reflected in the existing coat of arms.
Apart from the figures, Edmunds pointed out the presence of an elk – a species that doesn’t exist in the province. He suggested the animal could be changed to caribou.
The resolution itself mentions the inclusion of the Latin call “seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” which it notes “in a modern context is rather dated and inappropriate for a multicultural society.”
“Why not display the figures of- our ancestral figures. I mean we have Mi’kmaq, we have Inuit, we have Innu,” Edmunds said, while expressing his disappointment with the existing symbol. “We have an obligation, owe it to the people that we represent, the people that were here first. And I think that we owe it to the Beothuck community (to have a proper representation).”
The policy resolution passed unanimously. The resolution is not the same as a decision by government to adopt the idea, but puts it much further ahead.
It specifically reads:
Whereas the Liberal Government of Canada is committed to
• Continue its journey of reconciliation and renewal with Indigenous Peoples;
• Build a new nation-to-nation relationship guided by the recognition of rights and the values of respect and partnership;
• Develop a partnership with First Nations, Inuit, Innu and Metis peoples;
• Work to better understand the damage done by our colonial past and join us in the journey of reconciliation
Whereas the provincial coat of arms was:
• Designed and implemented in January of 1637 to be used by the Company of Adventurers to Newfoundland;
• Based on a lack of knowledge of this region and thus contains errors such as a representation of an elk, an animal not found in this area;
• Included Indigenous representations as “savages of the clyme armed and apparelled according to their guise when they go to warre”;
• Included a Latin call to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God” which in a mod ern context is rather dated and inappropriate for a multicultural society.
Be it resolved: that the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador take a lead in redesigning provincial symbols such as the coat of arms to further the federal government’s desire to redress the damages done by our colonial past.