Organizers of the #NoPipe Land and Sea Rally were anticipating a large crowd on Friday, but the number that showed up exceeded their expectations.
“I can’t say that we were surprised that the community is so behind us, because we have been feeling that for many months now. But I think this was important so that the provincial and federal governments will start listening to us now because they know it’s not just a small group of us who are opposed to this pipe,” said Jill Graham-Scanlan, president of Friends of Northumberland Strait.
Dave Gunning, who sang and wrote a song for the rally, said people in the community who have been speaking out against the pulp mill for a while have sometimes been painted as “a few little radicals.” He said it was powerful to see the support at the rally.
“I was certainly teary-eyed. I think a lot of people were, just to see the support for us.”
Gerard Halfyard said he has been a part of the Clean The Mill group for a long time, having lived in Pictou Landing for much of his life.
“I’ve known the devastation and the environmental catastrophe that’s over there for a very long time,” he said, referring to Boat Harbour.
He said it was great to see so many people coming together and he hopes “the government listens.”
While many people at the rally were from Pictou County, others had travelled from different parts of Nova Scotian and neighbouring provinces.
Janet Barkhouse from Mahone Bay said she heard about it through the Ecology Action Centre of which she’s a member.
“I would like to see the earth being properly taken care of and I think this has gone on long enough,” she said.
Heather Thomas from Lennox Island First Nation in Prince Edward Island was one of approximately three dozen people who made the four-hour trip by bus. She said another 20 people drove, while even more travelled by fishing boat.
“It’s worth it, to show our support,” Thomas said. She felt it was important to attend because she comes from a fishing community, adding that she has seen signs protesting the pipe in western P.E.I.
“Everybody’s up in arms about this. They’re not happy people.”
Wayne Mundle of Mushaboom, which is near Sheet Harbour, said he attended because he can relate to the issue as he works with the Association for the Preservation of Eastern Shore.
“We’ve been fighting to keep fish farms out of our harbours because of the pollution they create and we can relate to what’s going on here.”
He thinks Nova Scotians “have to stand together when it comes to fighting some of these corporations.”