Is the “Island way of life” lost when the ferry becomes a bridge?
with Janice Pettit
Tuesday, October 16, 2018 | 7 p.m. | SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge
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The Island Lecture Series kicked off another season on Tuesday, October 16, at 7 p.m. in the SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge on the UPEI campus, featuring Ms. Janice Pettit speaking about her master’s research: “Is the ‘Island way of life’ lost when the ferry becomes a bridge?”
Politicians began talking about building a fixed link between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in the late 1980s, and while this was not the first time the topic was broached, the Premier of the day suggested a plebiscite vote to determine Islanders’ interest. Both those opposed and those in favour of the link rallied their two sides at public meetings prior to the vote to ensure their messages were heard.
The “no” side raised a number of issues, but their main concern centred on the perceived loss of the “Island way of life” if a fixed link connected the Island to the mainland. During the 1989 plebiscite, Islanders voted almost 60 per cent in favour of a fixed crossing, and in 1997 the Confederation Bridge opened to the public.
Given all that was said and written regarding concerns about the loss of islandness, it is somewhat surprising that, until now, research had not been conducted to determine if the bridge has, in fact, had this impact. Have Prince Edward Islanders lost their “Island way of life”?
This presentation, drawn from the exploratory thesis research of a UPEI Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) graduate, provides some insight into whether Prince Edward Island residents still consider themselves islanders and if their island identity has been affected by the fixed connection to the mainland.
Janice Pettit graduated from the MAIS program in May 2018 and is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Government of Prince Edward Island.