NL·Point of View

An open letter to N.L.'s high school grads: Think twice about jumping ship

Emily Bland wanted to "escape" N.L. the second she left high school. But, she writes, staying at home is one of the best decisions she's ever made — and she argues it could be yours, too.

Your province made you who you are, Emily Bland writes — don't abandon it now

Once-upon-a-time high school grad Emily Bland says staying in her home province is one of the best decisions she's ever made. (Submitted by Emily Brand)

Dear high school graduates of 2019,

Congratulations! You're about to embark on one of the most exciting — but also terrifying — events of your lives.

Seven years ago I was in the same position as many of you today: excited to leave high school behind and take on those endless opportunities around the corner. 

But in my case, I had my heart set on leaving the province for university. I wanted to escape. 

I was set on living away because I thought if I wanted to make an impact, I couldn't do it here. If I wanted to change the world I had to be on Bay Street or Wall Street.

I thought if I stayed here there wouldn't be the opportunity to grow and create something. 

I couldn't have been more wrong.

My plans changed soon after becoming Miss Teen Newfoundland-Labrador. In order to hold the title, I had to reside in the province — and since I wasn't willing to let go of the opportunity, I applied to Memorial University.

Even at that moment, my intentions were still to leave for what I thought were greener pastures as soon as I finished my first year. It wasn't until I spent time travelling our province, meeting people from all walks of life, that I started to see the opportunities here.

I caught wind of thriving industries and companies that no one knew about — abundant resources all within reach. Eventually, I realized I was lucky to call Newfoundland and Labrador home.

You're not just a face in a crowd

Fast-forward to today, and I can confidently say not leaving the province for college is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's an incredible time to be a young person in N.L. The people of this province are rallying around the next generation; here, they want to see you succeed.

Unlike bustling cities elsewhere, the CEOs and directors of large companies here are willing to pick up the phone when a young person calls, happy to lend advice and mentorship.

From Verafin and Genoa Designs to Fonemed and Target Marketing and Communications, world-renowned companies are being built here, all with N.L. values at their core.

Bland, left, wanted to leave N.L. the moment she graduated, but opportunities kept popping up that kept her here. (Submitted by Emily Bland)

In N.L., of course, you're also known as a person.

That might sound really silly, but it's true. In N.L. people take the time to get to know you and learn about what you're doing. You are not one of a hundred, or even a thousand, faces competing for elbow room. You are you.

Our province has its challenges, but what better time to be young and full of ideas? This is our opportunity to challenge ourselves to come together and find solutions.

When it comes to this moment in our lives, being part of the millennial generation means we always want more: the latest iPhone, video games, or trendy clothes.

Often, that means we forget to be thankful for the things we have in front of us.

N.L. gives back

Newfoundland and Labrador has taught all of us who grew up here many important things.

Humility is one of them. It's ingrained in us, from our heritage to how we live today. There's a reason why so many of N.L.'s success stories are not those told the loudest or plastered across TV screens. There are so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who've built empires that very few people talk about.

Then there's the kindness.

The sun hasn't set on Newfoundland and Labrador. Bland says there are opportunities here if you look for them. (Submitted by Javad AB)

I dare you to find a more generous people than those in our province. Neighbours and strangers alike are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Right now, if someone's nan at Walmart asked you to reach something off a shelf, or to open a door when her hands are filled, wouldn't you want to help?

Don't forget about our resourcefulness, either. We've been through tough times and have learned to use our own ingenuity and communities to solve our own problems.

This province has given us a lot, and its inhabitants believe in the future. As we're growing up, it's our job as the next generation to take the lead and help shape the future that we want to see — even when employment rates plummet and the cost of living goes up.

The greatest things in life are not the easy ones. They are the ones that take character, determination and the right people to accomplish.

There is so much potential here. In a globalized world, you can build something from anywhere, in any industry.

You are about to invest two to five years of your life into a community. So why not do that in the province that has given so much to you?

Let's not complain about what our province isn't, or that someone else has more. Let's build the N.L. we all want to see, together.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Emily Bland


Emily Bland is the chief executive officer of SucSeed, a St. John's-based startup that makes hydroponic kits for growing produce.