Environment featured Racism

First there was the stench of the mill, now there is the stench of racism

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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  1. Thank you for speaking out on this. And yes it is company and govt that should be blamed. Why blame the victims who have had so many health issues from the toxic waste.

  2. I agree; the company needs to be held responsible — but so do all the corrupt (or just myopic, stupid, manipulative, and incompetent) politicians who never called the owners’ bluff, shovelled out truckloads of money to some of the wealthiest people around, and still whinge about doing the best for “the people” or “the province” or whatever. Thanks to all who are calling out racism and trying to build a better future.

  3. The stench of racism was here LONG before the stench of the mill ….this Country, this County, this mill was built with a racist foundation, that has never been addressed by anyone in power – thus it continues….it is very sad, heartbreaking, discouraging, shameful and down right disgusting that people will not take responsibility to educate themselves, and continue to perpetuate behavior that they themselves would never tolerate if the ‘tables were turned’!!

  4. Wow Racism is still lingering in 2020. In my honest opinion I think when someone is as strong as Pictou Landing was able to stop the pollution and the stink of the mill is probably the best thing that has happened to the environment for our land, water and air. Been a long time coming been one broken lie after another to fix it and had 50 years to do so. So I am definitely on the side too keep Nova Scotia environment clean, plus the mill had Plenty enough time to fix to keep it going. So not sure why people are upset with the Pictou Landing, it’s Mills own dam fault for the shut down.
    Great Job and Thanks from the outside looking in.

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