Members of the Pictou Landing Indian Band in Pictou Landing, Nova Scotia, have voted resoundingly, 119-20, against accepting the provincial government's offer of $3 million in exchange for dropping their lawsuit against the province. The lawsuit, which demands that the provincial government finally make good on their promises to shut Boat Harbour, since 1967 an effluent-dumping site for the Abercrombie Point Pulp and Paper Mill, appears set to continue.
Unfortunately, largely as a result of the lawsuit in question, the band is now $1.8 million in debt. It is not known whether or not band lawyer Brian Hebert will continue on some sort of contingency basis with the lawsuit, as Hebert apparently was not in Pictou Landing today. Former band lawyer Tony Ross, the driving force behind the band's landmark settlement with the Federal government in 1993, which resulted in a payout of $32 million, but not the closing of Boat Harbour, has made it known that he is willing to work without pay, for the moment.
Andrea Paul, the newly installed chief at Pictou Landing, also had the opportunity to address the Federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and many of Canada's First Nations' chiefs, at the recent Crown-First Nations meetings in Ottawa. Paul asked those in attendance to finally address the situation at Boat Harbour, where over a trillion litres of effluent runoff has flowed unabated. At the community level in Pictou Landing, this national attention seems promising. When the fiscal year turns over at INAC, it remains to be seen whether the band, acknowledged as underfunded by the ministry, will get the funding it so desperately needs.