Hundreds join rally to close Boat Harbour

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PICTOU LANDING – About 300 people came and stood with Pictou Landing First Nation residents during a rally in support of restoring Boat Harbour and closing its treatment facility on time.

Chief Andrea Paul was joined by fellow councillors as she led the rally and shared what a long road it has been for the community from when the Boat Harbour treatment facility was established more than 50 years ago to the community’s pressing the province to honour a legislated closure of the facility on January 31, 2020.

Paul said she feels Premier Stephen McNeil will honour that commitment when he makes public his decision on Friday whether to let Boat Harbour close on schedule. His other option is to extend the date so that Northern Pulp can continue to discharge its effluent there while its is given time to prepare an environment assessment report as sought on Tuesday by Environment Minister Gordon Wilson.

The Boat Barbour Act passed in 2015 set the closure date.

She said the community has been patient and respectful throughout its attempts to have the treatment plant close sooner and re-create the tidal estuary that previously existed there.

“Friday, January 31, 2020 is the date,” she said to a roar of approval. “We have been very respectful through the process. We have 52 years to try to heal from. We have children relying on us to make things right.”

The rally in the Pictou Landing school gym took place while groups on both side of the Boat Harbour issue gathered rallied in HRM on Thursday.

Unifor, the union that represents Northern Pulp workers organized a bus trip at the mill to transport them to the event early Thursday.

Above, from left: Chief Andrea is joined by fellow Pictou Landing First Nation council members A.J. Francis, Jenny Fraser and Haley Bernard as she addresses a rally in the school gym on Thursday.

Below: Supporters begin to gather to to rally for the closure of Boat Harbour on schedule. (Goodwin photo)