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Amplifying a strong voice

Haligonians show support for the Pictou Landing First Nation blockade

by Robert Devet

About 20 people gathered in downtown Halifax to show solidarity with the residents of Pictou Landing First Nation and their battle for clean air and water. Photo Robert Devet
About 20 people gathered in downtown Halifax to show solidarity with the residents of Pictou Landing First Nation and their battle for clean air and water. Photo Robert Devet
Rather than listen to speeches people talked to passers by and handed out pamphlets. Photo Robert Devet
Rather than listen to speeches people talked to passers by and handed out pamphlets. Photo Robert Devet

K'JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX - About twenty people gathered at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park today to draw attention to the blockade of the Northern Pulp Mill by residents of Pictou Landing First Nation and the Town of Pictou.

Earlier this week a leak in an effluent pipe at the mill caused unknown quantities of raw effluent to escape into wetlands and the Northumberland Strait. The community has lived with pollution caused by the mill for generations.

"Historically in Nova Scotia there is a lot of environmental racism," says Jordan Roberts, a coordinator with Nova Scotia Public Interest Reseach (NSPIRG) and one of the organizers of the rally. "We have seen it in Africville, in Lincolnville, in a number of communities, and Pictou Landing is yet another."

"The people in Pictou Landing have been so strong and vocal for so long. We want to do anything we can to amplify that strong voice," Roberts tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

Members of the First Nation have been blocking access to the spill site, allowing cleanup operations to continue, but not the repair of the ruptured pipe. The mill cannot operate until the pipe is fixed.

Pictou Landing First Nation chief Andrea Paul and the band council want to ensure that repairs occur in such a way that a nearby burial site is not affected.

As well, they want assurances from the provincial government that it will honour past commitments to clean up Boat Harbour, an estuary that at one time was a vital part of the community, but now has become a toxic treatment lagoon for the mill.

Earlier Roberts asked the crowd to let environment minister Rodney Delaney know that enough is enough and that it is time to work with Pictou Landing residents to clean up this toxic mess.

"Show your rage, and show your solidarity," said Roberts.

After the group dissolved participants took to the sidewalk to talk to pedestrians and hand out pamphlets.

 

Minister Randy Delorey can be reached at 424-3736, email min_env@gov.ns.ca

A facebook group, PLFN Protest Updates, has been crated to provide information on the blockade.

Further reading:

Elder's knowledge: Pictou Landing's Sarah Francis speaks about Boat Harbour. English/Mi'kmaw interview

All we would do is dig out clams. Food insecurity and pollution at Pictou Landing First Nation

In whose backyard? - video documents environmental racism in Nova Scotia

Monitoring of Abercrombie mill site shows extensive surface water contamination

Boat Harbour pictorial

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 


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