Director Statement
Director Statement

I never thought I would live in Pictou County, Nova Scotia and I didn’t expect to make my debut as a documentary director in my sixth decade. I can credit my partner for the first development. As an artist she found inspiration in the landscape and stories of Caribou Harbour. Indirectly, I can credit the Northern Pulp mill for the latter milestone.

The Mill, was born of necessity.

It was also inspired by Joan Baxter’s book of the same title. In December 2017, this book made national headlines. It was featured on the front page of the Globe and Mail when a signing in New Glasgow was canceled. Mill workers had threatened to boycott bookstores if it went ahead. But Joan had consolidated decades of local lore and conducted solid journalistic research to share the Pictou County pulp mill story. I discussed optioning the book immediately after reading it.

Simultaneously, Northern Pulp announced its plan to replace the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility. A plan that involves a discharge pipe releasing up to 70 million litres of treated effluent directly into the Northumberland Straight. It would be an understatement to say the fishing community of Pictou Landing First Nation and the scores of fishermen of the Northumberland Fisherman’s Association were upset. And for us personally, Caribou was no longer a safe harbour.

It was a call to action. I have had lots of experience as a producer and felt I had to take these skills and apply them to the project of documenting this momentous development. We were having to change and it was going to be hard.

Thus, the documentary’s focus shifted from ‘fifty years of pulp and protest’ to the immediacy of the current ‘No Pipe’ controversy. An atmosphere of tension simmers under the quiet surface of the community. The delicate equilibrium between the pulp mill and its community has shifted. No longer will people rationalize the mill’s emissions as the ‘smell of money.’ Intolerance for the mill’s environmental impact, combined with growing awareness of injustices inflicted on the local Mi’kmaq community have reached a new limit.

For too long decisions governing the interests of the community have been made behind closed doors and against a background where protest is ground down by bureaucratic stonewalling and secrecy.

For too long decisions governing the interests of the community have been made behind closed doors and against a background where protest is ground down by bureaucratic stonewalling and secrecy.

Our documentary team followed a coalition of indigenous and non-indigenous fishers, community activists, and citizens voicing their opposition to the pipe through demonstrations and grass roots organizing. We reached out to Northern Pulp, forestry workers and politicians for their perspectives. In the process I learned a lot about Pictou County and its people – my neighbours.

I want this film to offer an informed and balanced debate and a public forum to discuss the history of the mill and its future prospects. The 21st century opinion is our wood is worth more than pulp and we can’t continue to exploit nature to the same extent and expect to have an economic benefit that doesn’t come with some compromises.

In this day and age, I don’t believe putting a pulp effluent pipe into the waters of the Northumberland Straight can be considered safe to the environment, or fishery. An alternative must be found. If not, and the mill closes, I believe that whatever economy is lost with the mill will be gained in other areas. I join with other members of the community to anxiously await the government’s decision – to allow a pipe, or to allow the mill to close. There is no escaping now as Pictou is my home.

– David W. Craig, Director

Credits Block

CINEMATOGRAPHER KEVIN FRASER EDITOR PETER GIFFEN LOCATION SOUND JAMES O'TOOLE
COMPOSERS JUSTIN SMALL & OHAD BENCHETRIT SOUND DESIGNER JUSTIN GAUDREAULT
PRODUCERS
ANN BERNIER  DAVID CRAIG WRITER/DIRECTOR DAVID CRAIG

A VERTICAL PRODUCTIONS & SITE MEDIA CO-PRODUCTION IN ASSOCIATION WITH CBC, CANADA MEDIA FUND, WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF NOVA SCOTIA, NOVA SCOTIA FILM & TELEVISION PRODUCTION INCENTIVE FUND, ONTARIO CREATES FILM & TELEVISION TAX CREDIT, AND THE CANADIAN FILM OR VIDEO FILM TAX CREDIT.