Lord Penguin is in town. Actually he's no Lord or penguin, but ”I was after an intriguing headline for the meeting between Mike Summers, member of the Falklands' Legislative Assembly, Malouins in French, who this week is in Montreal to see his friend...the dragon (software programmer) Serge Beauchemin. I hope he forgives me for this fantasy”.
This was the presentation from Le Journal de Montreal by reporter Lise Ravari of Mike Summers visit to Canada's French speaking city of Montreal in Quebec.
What do you do on Saturday evenings to have fun? We don't have discos or cinemas. We try an unbelievable trick: we talk among each other said jokingly Summers.
The piece then goes on to explain that MLA Summers and Mr. Beauchemin met during the madness of an incident in the South Atlantic last November, following a fire that broke out in a French cruise vessel sailing for Antarctica, which included the Quebecois businessman, his espouse and some friends.
Following a night rescue in a raging sea by UK servicemen stationed in the Islands, the 375 passengers were taken to Port Stanley, capital of the Falklands with a total population of 3.000, tens of thousands of sheep and millions of penguins.
Once on shore the rescued had to be lodged, and since Port Stanley has an only hotel with 30 rooms, it was the locals that had to put up with the unexpected visitors. It was then that MLA Summers and Beauchemin first met and friendship was born, despite the 10.918 kilometers which separates the two men.
MLA Mike Summers visits Canada at least once a year as responsible for the Islands diplomacy with North America. This time besides visiting his Quebecois friends, he has come to sound out the attitude of the new Canadian government on the issue of the Falklands' statute which although a British Overseas Territory, is challenged by Argentina.
The piece then refers to the traumatizing experience of the war when on 2 April 1982 Argentine forces invaded the Islands and were retaken by British forces sent from UK and which inflicted a terrible defeat on the Argentines; the effects of the conflict still live with Islanders: there are still people at home that suffer from post/traumatic stress said MLA Summers.
Ms Ravari then recalls that the Malouins are named after sailors from Saint Malo (north France) who were the first to settle in the Islands in 1764, Islands which were deserted until the arrival of Europeans. The Malouins still sleep with an open eye, despite the presence of a 2.000 personnel garrison from Her Majesty in the Islands.
In 2013, following an official referendum, the inhabitants of the Islands a melt pot from sixty different countries, voted 99.8% to keep the continues link with Great Britain.
Whoever takes seriously the principle of peoples' self determination can't ignore such a clear result.
Tall, thin with the fine moustache of an officer, Mike Summers evokes the perfect British gentleman. The only British eccentric flash: the tie inspired with penguins.
But when it comes to talk about the economic autonomy of his country at the end of the world, the phlegmatic Mike Summers comes out much as a Quebecois, of which he has a bit.
The great, great grandfather of Mr. Summers, a soldier, emigrated to Montreal in 1864, following the Crimean war. He married a Canadian lady but for yet unknown reasons, the couple established at the end of the South Atlantic, where they founded the Summers' dynasty.
Since 1990 we receive no aid from London. We live from growing sheep, and revenues from fisheries and tourism. Out government pays for all the bills including the studies of our young people who have to leave for England, after high school to university, no matter where in the world. Most of them come back after graduation. At home there is no serious crime or pollution
The Falkland Islanders, their true denomination, have also developed expertise in renewable energy. In the camp 70% of power is generated from the wind or the sun. In Port Stanley, for the moment it is 40%. This however does not impede the Islanders from exploiting an offshore field recently discovered to the north of the Islands and estimated to hold 350 million barrels, following years of unsuccessful exploration.
Not bad for 3.000 people living on rocky islands where no trees grow, where temperature in summer averages 15 Celsius and 5 Celsius in winter and neighbors are after the bacon. More or less 60.000 visitors land in the Falklands every season to admire the Islands' wild beauty and meet a people that is proud and resilient and don't lack humor: the only newspaper in the Islands is called Penguin News.
What do you do on Saturday evenings to have fun ? We don't have discos or cinemas. We try an unbelievable trick: we talk among each other said jokingly Summers.
Preferably at the pub, of course.