“Symbolic but important recognition of Labrador”


December 6, 2001

Labrador on the map.

On December 6, 2001, an amendment to the Canadian Constitution officially approved a name change from the province of Newfoundland to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.   The process of the name change began in 1964 with the passage of the Labrador Act an act that permitted the province’s government to refer to itself as the Government of Newfoundland andLabrador.

In April 1999, the Newfoundland House of Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the Governor General of Canada to issue a proclamation amending the Constitution of Canada to change the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Then, a year and a half later (October 2001), the Government of Canada introduced a resolution in the House of Commons to change the province’s official name. At the time,  the then Premier Roger Grimes stated,

“Labrador is an important and vital part of this province. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is firmly committed to ensuring official recognition of Labrador as an equal partner in this province, and a constitutional name change of our province will reiterate that commitment.”

Subsequently the province’s postal designator was changed from NF to NL.

John Cabot first used the term “new found isle” in 1497. The name Labrador is generally understood to have originated from the Portuguese word “lavrador” or  “small landholder”, and is probably attributable to João Fernades, a Portuguese explorer.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read  MG 8.  The collection consists of textual and cartographic records compiled by P.T. McGrath in preparing the Newfoundland Government’s arguments in the Labrador Boundary Dispute (1906-1926). Some of the maps of the province of Quebec continue include Labrador.

Recommended Museum Visit:  At the Rooms Provincial Museum take some time to enjoy the exhibit: From this Place: Our Lives on Land and Sea: The Husky Energy Gallery – Level 4:  A rich tapestry of cultures exists in Newfoundland and Labrador: Strong ties to the land and the sea are the threads running throughout. Four Aboriginal Peoples – Innu, Inuit, Southern Inuit and Mi’kmaq – have lived in Labrador or on the island of Newfoundland for centuries. Europeans (livyers) – settled both places beginning in the early 1600s. The stories presented in this gallery highlight how the province’s peoples connected, and are connected. It is a story of how this place shaped its peoples and how different cultures have shaped and continue to shape this place.

Recommended Book:  A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Edited by Newfoundland Historical Society, Boulder Publications, 2008