Major compensation owed over Boat Harbour mess

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To the editor,
I am disappointed regarding Justice James Chipman’s decision on no funding for the lawsuit to have Boat Harbour cleaned up. Where is the federal government on this? Are they not supposed to help First Nations?

I am familiar with this well-run First Nation as I was born and raised in Pictou Landing. Yes, I too loved to swim, fish, hunt and enjoy the clams and oysters in Boat Harbour as my First Nation friends did. Boat Harbour is a lost treasure for all of us.

Yes, we did try hard to prevent this travesty but it was not to be. It quickly became the disaster predicted.

Above all, the closeness of Boat Harbour to Pictou Landing First Nation, with the prevailing winds, and the chemical stench from the effluent would have a lasting health impact on people on this reserve. The pollution also ruined the lighthouse beach, which could have had great economic potential for the band in motels and rental cottages.

I brought a doctor to visit the old church and school at the First Nation to see the damage to paint on both buildings. The doctor had spent time at the former TB hospital in Kentville and was shocked at what he saw, and encouraged us to keep up the action. The paint looked as if there had been a close call with fire – if the air did that to paint, consider what it would do to people’s lungs.

Chief Andrea Paul and her councillors are doing a great job running this successful, progressive First Nation, despite housing shortages and recreation needs. The community has to make do with federal money received. No wonder they didn’t have enough cash to sue the provincial government.

I suggest the legal community and Justice Chipman read “The Possessed” by Geoffrey York of the Globe and Mail regarding life and death in native Canada. You would be ashamed at how we treated First Nations.

I love to see how First Nations youth are being educated, with many becoming lawyers and fighting the wrongs and seeking settlements on land grabs from First Nations when no one would help before.

Millions of acres of land were stolen from First Nations people by governments and it was interesting to see Justice Chipman mention the band did not sell any land to help with legal expenses. Forcing First Nations to sell or trade lands was common in earlier times.

If asked, I would be glad to help the Pictou Landing band by telling my own experience of the area before and after the effluent was dumped into this magnificent harbour.

The First Nation deserves major compensation by government of multi-millions of dollars for damages; the longer it goes, the larger the compensation will have to be. A settlement by the Nova Scotia government was what should have happened here but watch the final settlement in years to come, as it will be massive.

Lloyd P. MacKay

New Glasgow

Organizations: First Nations, TB hospital, Globe and Mail

Geographic location: Boat Harbour, Kentville, Canada Nova Scotia New Glasgow

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