Author Joan Baxter recalled a recent booksigning at a Truro bookstore.
“I was there for an hour and a half and I sold three books and one was to someone that I know,” Baxter said of her most recent book, The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest that chronicles the half-century existence of a pulp mill at Abercrombie Point in Pictou County.
But sales and interest in the book have skyrocketed since Northern Pulp management authored a campaign to try to suppress book sales. The mill’s communication director sent a form letter to mill employees and retirees that they could in turn forward to Coles bookstore in the Highland Square Mall and to its corporate heaquarters in Toronto warning that if they followed through on a scheduled booksigning with Baxter two weeks ago, that the signee would not be buying any more books at the outlet. The book signing was cancelled but when the details of the cancellation were made public, it angered many in the Pictou County area.
“In trying to suppress this book, they’ve given it national headlines,” Baxter told about 20 members of the Peace and Friendship Alliance of Nova Scotia, a coalition made up of non-governmental groups and Indigenous people concerned about the assault on land, water and air by industry and government. They met Sunday at the Eagles Nest in Indian Brook, Hants County.
“They’ve given this book legs,” Baxter said of
Baxter’s book is about a kraft pulp mill that provides desperattempt ately needed employment for more than 300 mill workers and scores of spinoff jobs for contractors and suppliers in Pictou County. But the mill also is the focus of protests by fishermen, tourism operators and residents who say that the millions of litres of effluent dumped daily into nearby waterways can destroy the fish and the beaches. Residents and tourism operators also complain that the smell and toxicity coming from the smoke stacks affects health and quality of life.
The mill is planning to run an effluent pipe of a metre in diameter from its new wastewater treatment facility that has to be in operation by January 2020 out into the Northumberland Strait. The mill has been accused of coercing its employees to attend public meetings last week in an to mute or intimidate people with complaints about the proposed system.
Baxter told the group Sunday that the uphill water and environmental battles that Nova Scotians are waging against the Alton natural gas storage project in Colchester County, the potential mining project on Kellys Mountain, glyphosate spraying of forest land, the fish killed by a power turbine on the Annapolis River and other projects are all related.
“It’s all one battle. The mill is just an example. The Environment Department has their worries all over the province. We have to start caring about the whole province but I don’t know how we get there.”
What the group heard is that a structure is needed to bring all the groups fighting environmental problems together instead
of each group concentrating only on individual battles in different parts of the province.
Darren Porter, a Hants County fisherman and spokesman for the Fundy United Federation, said government-approved industrial projects often include environmental risks and realities that have not been tested properly.
“We have work to do,” Porter said.
Dorene Bernard, the de facto moderator of the round-circle discussion and a member of the Sipekne’katik Band, located primarily in Indian Brook, said everybody is responsible for protecting the water and the environment.
“We have to stand up for our water, our forests and our land,” said Bernard.