“Island way of life” lost when the ferry becomes a bridge?

Posted: 
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Janice Pettit

The Island Lecture Series kicks off its 2018–2019 season with a discussion on how the addition of a fixed link affects “the Island way of life.” The event features the  research of Master of Arts in Island Studies graduate Janice Pettit and takes place Tuesday, October 16, at 7:00 pm in the Faculty Lounge of UPEI’s SDU Main Building.

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 to determine Islanders’ interest. Both those opposed and those in favour of the link rallied 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 centered on the perceived loss of the “Island way of life.” 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 Pettit’s exploratory thesis research, 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 of 2018 and is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Government of Prince Edward Island.

Admission to the lecture is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information, please contact Laurie Brinklow at iis@upei.ca or (902) 894-2881.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
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