Please allow me to comment on the letter sent by the Municipality of the County of Inverness supporting the request for an extension to Boat Harbour (post 2020).
The Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition (GNSFC) is an Accredited Fishermen’s Association, which is legally recognized by the province of Nova Scotia. We represent our membership on various issues affecting them. Pictou Landing First Nations has been a member for a number of years.
We believe that the council members are decent people and we realize that as human beings we all make mistakes. Within this context here are our reflections on this letter.
The council writes “We strongly support the enforcement of environmental regulations in our province.” The province has legislation which makes it very clear that 2020 is the deadline to cleanup Boat Harbour. Should this not be enforced? How could anyone come to a conclusion that pumping these dangerous chemicals for another year is environmentally compatible? I visited and walked on their beach, which they can no longer use. The fishing activities which took place in Boat Harbour have all vanished.
It was mentioned by the warden that she had talked to fishermen on this subject. Could she advise us who she talked to? Why did the council fail to have a conversation with the two major Multispecies Fishermen’s Association from Inverness County?
Even more important, why did the council not have a discussion with the people most directly affected (which would be Pictou Landing First Nations)? They are residents of Inverness County. This shows a lack of respect and flies in the face of the reconciliation process with First Nations. The only people who must make any decision about Boat Harbour is Pictou Landing First Nations!
I wonder how the vote would have went if the question would have been: Do you support having these chemicals pumped into your back yard for a total of 51 years? The letter was written and sent, and then a motion was proposed at a second meeting to approve the letter, a rather strange process. Twice they could have paused and reflected on the subject before them and failed.
I have sat face to face with Northern Pulp management and have offered (time after time) support for a closed loop system. This would provide employment for years to come. This was not even considered by Northern Pulp. They claim that there will be zero environmental effects. When asked why a closed loop would not work the reply was “It will damage our equipment”. Then I ask: What will this do to the fish??
Northern Pulp had five years to bring a proper modernization renewal plan and they did not. The question which we are asking ourselves is – does Northern Pulp really want to extend their residency or are they looking for a bailout package paid by the tax payers of Nova Scotia? All jobs can be protected, it’s up to Northern Pulp.
To our members and friends from Pictou Landing First Nations, I apologize for the misguided action from our municipal council.