Cecil Godwin

Hello, my name is Cec Godwin. I was 38 years old when I went back to school for the second time. I had thought about it many times over the years but the time was never right. When the moratorium came into effect, I took advantage of the opportunity.

The first time around I passed everything but grade eleven. I considered myself to be an average student. After grade ten I had lost interest in school. The upheaval in the school system at the time probably had something to do with it. Two years prior to grade eleven the students were shuffled all over the Island. When we finally got a new school, we were given (and took) so many free periods that it didn't seem like school any more. By that time I was more interested in the extra-curricular activities.

But the fact that I never finished high school didn't stop me. I spent six years as Fire Chief, thirteen years as a Firefighter and two years as a Town Councillor, I have been both vice-president and president of the Development Association, I am currently the President of the Fisheries Coop and was vice-president for six years before that. I'm also involved with the Folk Alliance, and have been vice-chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fisheries Co-op and a board member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Co-ops.

Even with all this volunteer experience, when a job application asked for my education level, I could not put high school graduate there. In the past, education didn't matter because I was always employed as a laborer. But as time went on, I wanted to do more and this was where my lack of education hurt me.

I started back to school at Level Two. I did the Pathfinder course with the Career Academy. Like a lot of people, math was a major concern. When I was fourteen years old, I could see absolutely no use for fractions, decimals and the like.

My buddy and I were the first two to walk inside the classroom in 1993. It was the same classroom where I'd started kindergarten; it brought back a few bad memories. I had very few good memories of school.

I completed Level Three within a few months and received a diploma that said I had the equivalent of grade twelve. But I have to question the validity of it because I feel the Pathfinder course, being a computer lead program, can be abused. However, the people who were 'instructor' taught may have come away with a better education. But, I needed that piece of paper called a diploma.

Since then I have facilitated three Improving Our Odds courses and was employed as a Project Manager. I wouldn't have gotten either of these jobs without that diploma.

Now, don't get me wrong, I truly enjoyed going back to school. When I taught the Improving Our Odds courses, I saw people walk in there with a negative and somewhat frightened attitude. They walked back out with an entirely different attitude. The difference was unbelievable. That kind of gain can hardly be measured in dollars. But I also look at the bigger picture.

My biggest pet peeve is that there were 100 million dollars allocated to bring the functionally illiterate rate down below the estimated 44%. 1 feel a fair chunk of that money has been wasted and when the statistics come down, the percentage won't have changed very much. Some people have gained; other people have more than gained. But, we as a province have lost big time. I think the money should have been community controlled instead of HRD controlled. Not to say that HRD shouldn't have had anything to do with it, but the communities should have had more say.

The Literacy Movement in this province is a big concern now. All the work that should have been done in the last four years has only just got started. The Literacy Outreach Offices that have been set up in the province have been doing some really good work. But now, because the money has run out, it has to be passed over to volunteers again.

When the money was there, we could have paid someone to work with the Outreach Offices and ten times the work could have been done. For example, if the money had been channelled differently, Fogo Island would have had a full fledged Literacy Learning Center with a paid position, $200,000 worth of equipment, books and materials, and a good supply of well educated volunteers.

We formed a Community Education Committee (CEC). I sat on the committee as a representative of the Fisheries Co-op. The Co-op donated the space for a Literacy Learning Center. The center was to be used by the Co-op members, their families and the community. It could have addressed all their literacy needs for years to come.

The committee then put in a proposal to the now defunct FFAW Learning Center to access the equipment, books and materials for the Literacy Learning Center. We soon learned that the FFAW wanted to give the assets to the local school, which, in effect made the Co-op look like we were willing to sacrifice our children's education.

It is my opinion that the FFAW would rather give the school the equipment (that was bought with TAGS money) than let the Fisheries Co-op have anything to do with it. The irony of it is: the Co-op doesn't want it... the Literacy Learning Center does. Perhaps it should be said that because of the Fisheries Co-op, the fishermen of Fogo Island are not unionized.

We are losing people out of Fogo Island hand over fist. I am the only one of eight children in my family still living in Newfoundland. My other brothers and sisters say they are not coming back and they don't expect their families to settle back here. But I have made my choice. I'm staying! But I'd like to see my children finish their education and get a career that will take them somewhere else. It's just too hard of a struggle!

The crime of it is, if they do move on, their kids will probably never know the Newfoundland experience - the smell of the salt water, the joy of going out the harbor in a speed boat just as the sun is coming up, the sight of a cod trap being hauled, or the calmness of the bay on a warm summer night. You have to live near the salt water to appreciate it and when you experience it for the first time, you understand it.

My hope for the future is for a vibrant outport Newfoundland. I'd like to see my community, the community down the road, and the community one hundred and fifty miles away survive, prosper and have some purpose. But then again, when it comes to purpose, as far as I'm concerned the moral fibre of this country comes from the outport communities.


  1. Describe what Cec meant by the sentence 'By that time I was more interested in extra-curricular activities'.
  2. Why do you think Cec has decided not to leave Newfoundland?

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