Cars lined the streets of Pictou Landing First Nation on Friday morning to support the community in reminding the government and emphasizing the Boat Harbour Act which calls for the closure of the treatment facility on Jan. 31, 2020.
The community of PLFN held the Reclaiming A’Se’k walk, beginning at the Band Council office in the heart of the community and continuing down the main road to where Boat Harbour meets the water, where a ceremony was held. Council Chief Andrea Paul had elders of the community and children come to the microphone first to speak about Boat Harbour and how it affects them. Elders also offered prayer.
“This is Point D,” began Paul, who spoke about the water around Boat Harbour as she began. “We don’t fish there, nobody fishes there.”
Paul also spoke about some misconceptions about the area, such as the fact that First Nation fishing crews do not fish at or around Point D and have never really been able to. She went on to address Boat Harbour or A’se’k (the other room.)
“This is something we haven’t been able to enjoy in 30 years,” she said about the harbour and surrounding area.”We need to acknowledge our children, we are doing this so our children aren’t doing it 52 years later.”
Paul handed the microphone to anyone else who wanted to talk about the environment or the situation.
“That’s what today is all about: it’s a reminder — January 31, 2020, that toxic tap will stop,” said Michelle Francis Denny, one of the event organizers.
As the rally drew to a close those in attendance took tobacco they had been holding and prayed with a water song and an offering of tobacco was given to the water. Community members and walk participants made their way back to the fire station when the ceremony was over to view a video and enjoy refreshments.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout today,” said Paul about the large crowd that came out to support the cause. She added that what sparked the event was, knowing that Northern Pulp was submitting its focus report, and they thought that a peaceful walk would be a good way to remind the company and the province about the promise that was made to close the facility early next year.
“This isn’t just a Pictou Landing issue, this is a human issue,” she said.
Demonstrators waved signs as they marched to Boat Harbour last week in support of the closure of the Boat Harbour pulp effluent treatment facility on schedule, Jan. 31, 2020. (Brimicombe photo)