Environment featured Racism

News brief: Thanks to Ellen Page’s new offer Shelburne’s Black community gets its well after all

Members of the SEED team (Michelle Jacklyn, Stanley Jacklyn, Louise Delisle and Mary Manning) received a Nova Scotia Human Rights Award for their ongoing efforts. Photo contributed

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.

See also: A community of widows. The Shelburne dump and environmental racism

“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.

See also: For Shelburne’s Black community water woes continue

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. 

See also: By declining Ellen Page’s gift, Town of Shelburne is missing a great opportunity in more ways than one

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5 Comments

  1. Heartening that when it comes to injustice there are those who understand that ‘no’ means try again. Generosity of this kind is a call to all of us to consider where, how and what we need to offer again and again.

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  2. I hope Ellen Page did this with the best of intentions but do we really want a society where basic services are dependent on the largesse of the rich?

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  3. Thank you for telling it correctly that the hard time was not about financial issues the town was having at the time of Ellen’s Pages first offer . When we first met with the mayor and 1 councilor of the town it was the location that was the issue the mayor felt it would serve the town better in the center of town. Thanks to Ellen Page we will have clean water in the Black community of the south end that some say does not exist ,never mind the rest of the south end with no town water access.

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