Sharing ownership for Pictou County

Opinion

To the Editor:

The recent news about the closure of Northern Pulp has had a profound impact on our region. It is a turning point for our community and we are at an important crossroads on a journey towards a new way of being. It is a path that many are supportive of, relieved and even elated about, while for many others, it is one that is causing grave concern, heartbreak and hardship.

As a county we are connected and interwoven. We are health care workers, educators, farmers, industrial workers, fishers, foresters, entrepreneurs, tourism operators, retail workers, knowledge economy specialists, law enforcement, social services, professional services, non profit support organizations, artisans — and so much more. We have a community with much to offer and are recruiting and attracting newcomers because we can offer not only employment in continuing care but also a good quality of life with many amenities.

We want a safe and sustainable environment for the Pictou Landing First Nation community as well as for all of Pictou County and the wait has been a long and arduous one. Pictou County also needs economic stability and security. Moving forward, we must find a way for environmental stewardship and economic feasibility to co-exist.

The impact of the closure of Northern Pulp is far spread and beyond the pulp mill and forestry sector. When the news came of the mill’s closure it reverberated throughout our facility. For many there was immediate impact. And if it did not affect us directly, it impacted our neighbours, friends, extended family. Many are closely connected to the fishing industry and to the First Nation of Pictou Landing, while many others are connected to the mill and the forestry sector. It was a day of great emotion, empathy and also uncertainty. It will continue to be all of these things in the days and weeks ahead. Could there not have been a better path, can there not still be one? Can we not analyze and discuss sensitive issues, create consensus, pose innovative solutions and share ownership for our community and province, for both today and tomorrow?

Glen Haven is devoted to providing outstanding quality care to Nova Scotians who are most often our elders and who were the pillars and builders of our community. In addition to the mill and the forestry sector, this closure of one of our County’s major employers, also impacts other employers. In today’s age most families need to have two incomes. Many of the members of our team here at Glen Haven Manor are partners, spouses and even parents to those whose income comes directly from Northern Pulp-and the forestry sector. We are already hearing that families will make changes and some will leave our community. This both saddens and greatly concerns us. For Glen Haven Manor this comes at a time when we are already facing labour shortages. We also recognize if the assets of our community are reduced due to the change in our economy, our recruitment and retention efforts will be affected. We cannot afford to let that happen as our residents and residents’ families deserve to have the confidence that we will always have a full staff complement to provide safe, quality care.

We call upon officials at all orders of government to come together, along with existing employers, regional organizations and the citizens of our region to find a way to rebuild and find new opportunities. Glen Haven Manor is committed to innovation and finding solutions — not just in words and declarations but through rolling up our sleeves and taking action as a willing partner in supporting our community to move forward in these uncertain times.

Pictou County has a history of helping each other in our darkest and most difficult of days. It is also a community that is strong and resilient. It is our hope here at Glen Haven Manor that this community spirit and character will prevail and continue to be strong; that we will help each other through this change and be kind and understanding of the losses and uncertainty. That we will not divide but unite regardless of our perspectives. That we will support each other. That we will work together to ensure our community can heal, rebuild and continue to thrive.

In the words of great Pulitzer prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks: “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Lisa M. Smith, CEO

Glen Haven Manor