Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul was thrilled with the support and crowd during the community’s celebration countdown marking one year until the closure of Boat Harbour.
“The feeling of today was definitely one of empowerment,” said Paul. “When we are able to do events like this it is also healing.”
Paul spoke afterwards about the memory wall that was on the back wall of the gym where the celebration was held. She said the idea for a memory wall came from a committee member who wanted to honour and include the members of the community and loved ones who have passed, hoping the day would come for the treatment plant to close.
“It was a way for us to bring our loved ones here with us today.”
Paul noted that she grew up in a time when all she knew was pollution in Boat Harbour so the loss of the area that she has is different from that of the elders who are still living who once enjoyed the area in its natural state and have lost it.
“Hearing their stories is quite painful,” she said. Although it is difficult for Paul to hear the stories of the elders, the words of the children who spoke during the ceremony about what hopes they have for the future, were powerful.
“It really puts a reminder out there that we have to keep going,” said Paul. “They’ve lost it all.”
She also had some thoughts to share about the Northern Pulp environmental assessment which was passed on the same date. The company held a press conference in Halifax Thursday morning to announce it was seeking a year extension.
“It didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth,” said Paul upon hearing about the press conference. “I felt it was a little hurtful.”
To celebrate the countdown of one year to the closing date of Boat Harbour, a painting of the harbour was completed and a daily countdown has begun. Paul shared what she was hoping the countdown would do for the community by having it in a visible spot in town.
“I hope it empowers them, reminds them every day it’s a day closer to the end.”