Nova Scotia

Rural Reckoning: 4 myths about rural life in Nova Scotia

The CBC interviewed three experts on rural development. Here they challenge four assumptions many people hold about rural Nova Scotia.

City thinking can obscure the rural reality. Here's the truth behind four common misconceptions

The CBC interviewed three experts on rural development. Here they challenge four assumptions many people hold about rural Nova Scotia. 

Their answers have been edited and condensed.

1. Myth: Innovation is a city word, not a rural one.

Rob Greenwood notes that Walmart came out of a rural setting. (CBC)

Rob Greenwood: There's all kinds of innovation. Most innovation is not about university research and development with some great discovery leading to a new widget. Most innovation is learning by doing. 

There's a lot research that shows how fishermen, farmers, people in forestry, entrepreneurs — they have nowhere else to go to find a solution if something breaks on the farm. And a lot of that does lead to improved products, improved processes, efficiency.

Sometimes it leads to whole new markets. Walmart came out of rural U.S.A. There are loads of examples of rural innovation that  dramatically changes the world. 

Rob Greenwood is the executive director of Memorial University's Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development.

2. Myth: Rural Nova Scotians are welcoming.

Kathleen Kevany says Nova Scotians are friendly, but not always seeking friends. (CBC)

Kathleen Kevany: I would say that Nova Scotians are friendly, but they don't necessarily move to the next stage of being friends. The difference is, do you invite people to your home?

Those people who don't feel welcome, they won't stay. They don't invest emotionally or financially. And those who do feel they have a possibility here, they will invest.

We're not capitalizing on that. Rural communities have not proactively reached out. Historically, we like to gather our own. 

Kathleen Kevany lives in Truro and is an associate professor in the department of business and social sciences at Dalhousie University. 

3. Myth: You find real economic opportunity in the city.

Sean Markey says rural places play an important role in the province's economy. (CBC)

Sean Markey: Rural places in this country are not in decline. They're worthy of investment and that investment can yield rewards not just for the rural communities where those investments are taking place, but for the entire country.

Rural places play incredibly important roles in our resource economy and increasingly important roles in ecological services confronting some of the challenges of climate change.

They play pivotal roles in our cultural identity. A long time statistician, I know I always talks about rural Canada having a people problem, not a jobs problem.

We need people in rural Canada to take advantage of the economic opportunities that exist in our non-metropolitan areas. 

Sean Markey is the associate dean of the faculty of environment at Simon Fraser University. He's also a board member with the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation.

4. Myth: Rural Nova Scotians hate change. 

Rob Greenwood: I don't think personally resistance to new ideas is the primary problem. I think the primary problem is governance and our inability for people who do have ideas, and rural leaders who do have ideas, to have the tools to act on them. 

Instead they have to go to the provincial governments or the federal government, begging for some funding or some infrastructure or some training programs to meet the needs they see.

We all talk about the need in the global economy to think global and act local. Canadian leaders under the provincial level have almost no capacity to act.