KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – It took a long time, but the Town of Shelburne’s predominantly Black community is finally getting the well that the South End Environmental Injustice Society (SEED) had been fighting for.
Today, at a special council meeting the Town of Shelburne mayor and councillors decided unanimously to accept a new offer by filmmaker and actor Ellen Page to pay for construction and maintenance of the well.
Page became aware of the south end’s community’s long history of marginalization while working with Shelburne activist Louise Delisle on There’s something in the water, a documentary (and book) about environmental racism in Nova Scotia. The mostly Black community in town had to endure potentially toxic effects of a garbage dump in close proximity for many decades.
“It was a lot of talking, a lot of angry words, but you know, this community needs a good thing right now,” Delisle tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.
Delisle, who attended this afternoon’s Council meeting, doesn’t know if she can divulge the amount of money Page is willing to pay, but says that it will certainly be enough to cover the Town’s estimated construction and maintenance costs.
Last year, tests conducted on 60 wells located in the south end by Rural Water Watch found coliform bacteria and E. coli in a majority of wells. Wells also tend to run dry early in the summer.
An earlier similar offer by Page was rejected, as the Town, which is in financial dire straits, believed a different location away from the South End community would be cheaper to establish and maintain.
That decision did not address SEED’s contention that a history of environmental racism by the Town towards the Black community should be taken into account when deciding on the matter.
Page’s new and generous offer made any cost considerations no longer relevant.
“I really, really wish that it hadn’t taken so long, and caused all these bad feelings and all that racism just to get there,” Delisle says.
“I’m so happy. I can’t wait to tell people,” says Delisle.
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