Environment featured

“I am Jacob Fillmore’s mother” – An open letter to Chuck Porter, Minister of Lands and Forestry

photo by Kevin Prinoski, March 23

March 25, 2021

Mr. Porter,

My name is Charlotte Fillmore; I am Jacob Fillmore’s mother.

Many people have been asking me if I am worried about Jacob. Of course I am—I am terrified, any parent would be. However, I respect Jacob’s autonomy and what he does with his body is his decision to make. For the past two weeks, I have tried to stay hopeful and strong and to focus on the positives. And after Tuesday’s rally, I felt buoyed by the news that you had agreed to meet with Jacob (no matter how small of a gesture this actually was).

Yesterday, I finally let myself cry when I read that you had not followed through on this commitment. I cried for Jacob. I cried for me. I cried for this beautiful province and all its living creatures. And I cried for young people around the world who are scared of what their future holds. 

I thought long and hard about the silver lining of your cowardice, and I actually managed to come up with a couple things. First, it gives me (and others) a glimpse into who you are. Reneging on a promise and then lying about it says a lot about a person’s character and integrity. We see you Mr. Porter.

But more importantly, it gives me a chance to tell you a little something about my son Jacob, to prepare you, should you ever choose to take the opportunity to meet with him.

When Jacob was 5 or 6 years old, we read Charlotte’s Web. When Fern learned that her father was going to sell her pet pig Wilbur, Jacob cried. In grade 9, Jacob raised over $3000 for Coalition for Kids, and traveled to Poland to help grant wishes for terminally ill children.

He has always been this kind and sensitive. He cares deeply for and has an appreciation of the natural world. Yet he is also strong willed and determined. He is principled and passionate. He is intelligent and brave. He will not be placated, and he will not give up. 

The decimation that is taking place in our forests right now in Nova Scotia is heartbreaking. Acres of forests across the province are being approved for clearcutting, including parcels that contain critically endangered plant and animal species, like the mainland moose, the Canada warbler, and centuries old eastern hemlock.

Clearcuts have dire consequences not only for the wildlife, but also for the health of the soil, waterways, future forests, and in turn, on the climate crisis. Even the future of our forestry industry depends on healthy forest management.  William Lahey (author of the Lahey Report), said “The primary reason (to care about the health of the forest) is that ecosystems and biodiversity are the foundation on which the other values, including the economic ones, ultimately depend.” 

We need more people like Jacob to stand up for what they believe in. More people like the forest protectors who camped out for many weeks in the cold. More people who will write letters, call their MLAs, support the rallies, and make their voices heard. And we need a moratorium on clearcutting NOW, until the recommendations of the Lahey report are implemented. 

Mr. Porter, my son has not eaten for 18 days. It is ludicrous that it takes these extreme measures to (not) even get a meeting. I hope you will forgive me for my language; surely you can imagine that I am feeling quite emotional about this.

But enough is enough. Grow a pair and take the damn meeting!


Charlotte Fillmore

Proud mother of Jacob Fillmore

Halifax, NS

See also: Jacob Fillmore: Open letter to Premier Iain Rankin

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  1. Amazing letter Charlotte. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and telling us more about Jacob’s passion for protecting our environment. Chuck Porter–meet with this young man please.

  2. Thank you Charlotte for sharing how you are feeling, and sharing more about Jacob’s passion for protecting our environment.

  3. Kendall Worth here:

    Yup Doesn’t surprise me!

    I myself back in my childhood days grew up and spent a lot of time in rural Nova Scotia, about an hour outside of Antigonish. Two Summers ago, I actually got to go visit where I grew up and while on route I seen what was once huge chunks of woods gone, thanks to clear-cutting. By the way the exact community in rural Nova Scotia where I spent a lot of my child hood in happens to be just 5 minutes or so east of Goldboro, where some other stories in the Nova Scotia Advocate plus also has been reported on in other media outlets as well, the building of the LNG plant. They Clearcutted that Large chunk of woods 10 years ago or so and as to this day there is still nothing there. Back in my childhood days, I know people who use to hunt, and hike in those woods. And of course Goldboro is just one of many examples of places in rural Nova Scotia that has experienced major clear cutting.

    Anyway the point I am trying to get at here is by Chuck Potter not keeping his commitment means that he clearly does not care about our woods and forest. Shame on Chuck!

  4. This is an indictment of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Govt in NS. The laziness, cold bloodedness and lack of concern paid by former paramedic Chuck Porter now an MLA and Cabinet Minister is well documented. 18 days of not eating could mean serious injury or death. Why won’t the govt meet? If people think Iain Rankin is the human face of Stephen McNeil, think again– Election’s coming.

  5. Excellent letter. If Chuckie will not meet with your son our new Premier should at least give him a few minutes. Respect costs them nothing !! “Might”is definately not right. I agree with Jacob. Clearcutting for domestic use is bad enough and clearcutting to sell N. S. to other countries should be illegal.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing yours and Jacobs story, We are so fortunate to have people like Jacob to defend our forests and nature, I have never been involved in this cause but my PC Government has enlightened me (I have to ask questions all the time) has strong beliefs not to say they are perfect but I believe in Jacob and I will talk up this issue when and wherever I can, it may not help but I will feel better. Shame on Mr. Porter for not at least sitting down with Jacob, he has a right to be heard,

  7. No surprise Chuck did nothing. Makes lots of promises to help people, myself being one (regarding my daughter), and never fulfills his promise.
    He makes a laughing stock out of himself and his constituents in West Hants.
    Good luck Jacob! You have many Nova Scotians on your side.

  8. Thank you for this powerful letter and telling us more about your heroic son. He is a very kind and compassionate human being and he has already achieved so much by his sacrifice. I met him on the street and I have been worrying about his well-being ever since. I will be at the next rally, too. Nova Scotians have woken up to the sick exploitation/ destruction of our forests; enough is enough! We will fight until there is no more clearcutting, no more glyphosate spraying and real action on the climate emergency!
    Mr. Porter, you don’t seem to be fit for the job!

  9. It’s hard to imagine what reality Mr. Porter and his ilk live in. I am truly disgusted that he habitually breaks his promises. Bravo Charlotte for raising a son with guts and integrity. I can’t help but wonder what kind of letter Chuck Porter’s mom would write about him. Shame on the rest of the greedy, ignorant politicians who look the other way.

  10. We need to have a real protest march in all NS towns and cities. Please set the date and time and we MUST MARCH to show how we feel. We are too passive and need to show our strength in protest marches. Other suggestions would be considered.

  11. Thank you Charlotte and Jacob both, for your courage and communication.

    Yep, Mr. Porter, this is despicable behavior on your part. The so called Forestry practises in NS are and have been Neanderthal
    for a long time. This causes harm. It is no longer acceptable. Time to “take a knee” and dismantle the BIG MACHINES OF
    MASS DESTRUCTION. Contemplate the benefits of being less greedy. Your grand-children could be proud of you.

    Dessie in Granville Ferry

  12. , Thank you Charlotte Fillmore, you are a courageous woman ,and your son Jacob also has a lot of courage , the behaviour of the Nova Scotian government is appalling , they are bullies, they do not deserve to be the government, Mr Porter, did your Mother teach you this awful behavior? I hope not , What are you teaching the young people of Nova Scotia?
    Elinor Egar Reynolds

  13. What a well written poignant letter. It is unfortunate it has come to this. There has never been a government in this province that cared about the forest – they only see a source of $$
    Good luck and Godspeed to your son Jacob.

  14. We challenged the province to a moratorium in the early 2000’s when I discovered they were clear-cutting in Liscombe Game Sanctuary. Over the next months, we were joined by people living near the other ‘sanctuaries’ in the province. Meeting after meeting with the Province AND industry only netted more meetings, more stalls.

    Then, an election and a new Minister (who had to have time to be briefed and brought up to speed on the issue) stalled us another year. Meanwhile, in the back woods, beyond where anyone can see the devastation from the roads and highways, the clear-cutting was stepped up until there was very little left of Liscombe Game Sanctuary trees.

    The ‘game sanctuary act’ of 1928, could not have known that someday, huge machines would replace men with hand saws and axes and logging horses whose hooves don’t tear up the fragile ground on the way out to the landing. “No fishing, no hunting…” said the act. No mention of ‘no destruction of habitat’ or cutting huge swathes of land without being forced to clean up the mess or replant (even a monoculture planting like their current ‘spruce plantation’ program, which is just plain wrong). That loophole, that omission from the 20’s was never corrected and used to sell us out.

    Now, bears and other wildlife are forced to forage near villages for food and many are killed simply for trying to survive in their destroyed habitat.

    Local people who burned firewood for heat and sustainably managed their wood lots for the future, now have trouble finding anyone who even sells firewood. Small lumber mills opened up and closed because there are no trees to cut.

    Softwood (pulp wood) trees are cut and shipped to places like Sheet Harbour, where they are chipped and shipped overseas to be made into press-wood. Then, those 4X8 panels are shipped back here for us to build with.

    Wrong, just so wrong.

    You’re upset you didn’t get a meeting – a meeting where they pat you on the head and say ‘yes, we’ll have to talk about this again sometime’ (usually months and months away). Meanwhile they continue with their insidious long standing policy of raping the Province and her residents of all her natural resources.

    Such a meeting is just a photo op – it calls attention to the issue (one more time) and makes the politico look good because he took an hour away from the lunch room to ‘meet’ with yet another outraged citizen desperate to make a positive difference to our future. It won’t.

    I am reminded of a sign that stood in someone’s yard around the Ship Harbour area for many years.
    “No trees, no wildlife, no people” which speaks volumes. That sign has been replaced by industry propaganda signs saying “Nova Scotia Needs Forestry”. It doesn’t.

    Local forestry (note not ‘sustainable forestry’), like local fishing (with their No MPA bullying tactics) is a small, outdated industry that needs to be made obsolete – or ideally, given back to the people for proper management that doesn’t rely on greed but necessity.

    Jacob: Bless your heart. The only person I’ve ever known to successfully challenge industry and the province is Elizabeth May, way back when she was a teenager in Cape Breton and the spruce bud worm was being treated with nasty chemicals that killed everything in their path. She actually won and the insecticide was banned. Talk to her – if she hasn’t already reached out to you. She is open and human and will give you courage and strength.

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