KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – First there was the stench of the mill, now there is the stench of racism.
In the aftermath of the Northern Pulp decision there are a lot of racist social media comments directed at the people of Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN). To see racist comments on Facebook is of course not unusual, but this is getting out of hand. If we don’t push back it will continue to get worse.
Quite a few people who are directly or indirectly affected by the Northern Pulp closure lay much if not all the blame at the feet of Chief Andrea Paul and her community.
Not everybody opposed to the Northern Pulp closure engages in this behaviour, but a vocal minority certainly does.
To be clear, the closure of Northern Pulp stems from decades of inaction by the mill and governments of all stripes. During all these years PLFN bore the brunt of this neglect and had to deal with lies and one broken commitment after another while coping with a toxic lagoon in its backyard.
The innocent residents of PLFN have paid a high price. Because of the pollution residents are scared to grow vegetables, and an entire way of life has been destroyed. To consider the small community the cause of the current malaise is ridiculous.
The forestry and mill workers are victims at this recent stage, but the residents of PLFN have been victims for decades.
This is not just about words. Last week the New Glasgow News reported that Chief Andrea Paul is facing threats. She worries about the safety of her family and her community and had to involve the RCMP.
One thing that would carry weight is a statement and campaign by Unifor that there is no place for racism in the aftermath of Premier McNeil’s decision to honour the Boat Harbour Act. There may be other voices as well, forestry associations, perhaps Northern Pulp management as well. Individuals also have a role to play.
Unifor, the union representing the Northern Pulp workers, has a history of fighting racism. This would be an opportune time to continue that proud tradition, take a stand and see who else will join their initiative.
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