Interview Subjects
Interview Subjects

Chief Andrea Paul | Pictou Landing Band

Chief Paul represented the Band in the negotiation that led the Nova Scotia government to close and remediate Boat Harbour. Now she has been instrumental in coordinating with the larger community to support the ‘No Pipe’ protest.

A personable and genuine figure, Chief Paul is quick to laugh and equally quick to shed tears yet her easy manner disguises a steely determination that has been tested by the enormous pressure she has faced from the government, the mill and even her own community. A teacher by profession she has a strong commitment to education and she aspires to integrate the clean up of Boat Harbour into the curriculum of the Band’s elementary school.

If the proposal for a new effluent pipe fails she will face renewed demands to extend Boat Harbour’s use as a treatment facility. She sees the cleanup of Boat Harbour as her legacy and she insistent on her people’s traditional role as keepers and protectors of the land, air and water.

Chief Paul has been deeply impressed by the support she has received from the non-indigenous community and she has been crucial to the ‘No Pipe’ movement as demonstrated by bringing all the Mi’kmaq chiefs in the province to the July 6, Land and Sea Demonstration. Widely respected,

Chief Paul has emerged as a significant leader in Pictou County. She still must contend with her community’s decades long distrust for the government and the mill by giving hope that the land and water will return to what it was before the mill came.

Ronnie Heighton | President, Northumberland Fisherman’s Association

An unassuming man in his sixties Ronnie has been president of the local fisher’s association for 30 years. An operator in the tough and politicized world of Canada’s fishing industry, he’s been in the boardrooms and back rooms of various agencies and all levels of government. He has the hard job of keeping his independently minded and sometimes unruly members focused on their ‘No Pipe’ advocacy goal of getting the feds involved.

Hardly an extrovert Ronnie comes alive in a fight. He likes a joke and makes wry comments about politicians such as; “he has been sitting on the fence so long he has splinters in his ass.” Ronnie is well aware of the power of the camera and he has orchestrated a visually compelling summer media event by bringing 200 lobster boats to the Land and Sea Demonstration in Pictou Harbour. The boats dancing and circling in the harbour in front of the mill was a spectacle. Accordingly the event made national television news that night (July 6) on all the major networks.

Ronnie has placed a lot of faith in the federal government. Is it well founded? While the Prime Minister is now aware of the situation in Pictou County he was quick to note that this was a provincial jurisdiction. Over the dog days of summer Ronnie has gone fishing while at the same time planning next steps with his legal team.

Krista Fulton | Friends of the Northumberland Strait

She was raised in Pictou and has lived here all her life apart from a stint at college. Krista met her lobster fisher husband at 17 and now has a young teenage daughter. She owns a trucking company.

Attractive and charismatic Krista challenges expectations of what someone who picks up garbage for a living should look like. She also challenges the wisdom of pumping effluent into the nearby fishing grounds. A founding member of the Friends of the Northumberland Strait she has been on the forefront of the ‘No Pipe’ struggle. She was a key organizer of the Land and Sea Demonstration and MC at the event.

If Krista has a question about the mill she doesn’t hesitate to call General Manager Bruce Chapman to ask it. Her education in wastewater management lends credibility to her concern about the proposed pipe. She lives in close proximity to the mill and accepted it up until November 2017 when the plan for the pipe was announced. The idea seemed absurd until she realized it was serious. Since that time she has been juggling her time between work, family and serious advocacy on behalf the Friends. Presentations to town councils, radio interviews, and countless meetings fill her impossibly crowded agenda.

She feels the pipe threatens her family and way of life and is compelled to act. At the same time she sympathizes with people working at the mill. She wants a solution that won’t pump effluent into the fishing ground. Krista has hidden depth and sound political instincts that will help the Friends as they contemplate their next move.

Aaron Beswick | Journalist, The Chronicle Herald

Aaron Beswick is a Nova Scotia native and his beat is the rural communities of the province’s northwest: Pictou, Antigonish and Cumberland Counties among others. He was with Chief Andrea Paul in 2014 when the effluent leak from Northern Pulp was discovered and has been following the story of the struggle between Pictou Landing First Nation and Northern Pulp since then.

In 2019 he was responsible for a four part series of articles in The Chronicle Herald examining the impact of the Pictou County mill and its future. As a young journalist Aaron is passionate about his profession and deeply concerned for the people of rural Nova Scotia. “Journalism matters to us all because the truth matters. But journalism really matters to me because in its pursuit I have got to see the heart and mind at their best, their worst and most places in between. “

In the documentary The Mill we see Aaron digging away at the story of the effluent spill and the proposed location of the new effluent pipe. While critical, Aaron retains a balanced perspective on a story whose outcome he knows will have a profound affect on Nova Scotians.

Allan MacCarthy | Fisher, Representative of the Northumberland Fisherman’s Association, Caribou, Nova Scotia

Allan MacCarthy has been fishing since he was a child. He describes himself as a ‘lifer’ someone who has fishing in his blood. He captains his lobster boat from Caribou Harbour and fishes lobster in the waters between Caribou and Pictou Island. Like many in the area he is a multi-generational fisher.

Prior to Northern Pulp’s announcement of an effluent pipe into Fishing Area 26A of the Northumberland Straight, Allan had no experience as an activist. “I didn’t know that the word ‘pollution’ had two ‘L’s’ “, he says. Over the course of the past two years, Allan has taken on the role of spokesperson for the fishers of Caribou. They will be the most effected should Northern Pulp’s effluent pipe goes into the waters off Caribou Point.

Allan is calm but adamant. “We are still saying ‘No Pipe into the Straight!” Allan does his homework reading the technical reports on pulp effluent and other studies that are part of the environmental assessment process. He attends and speaks at community meetings and meets with representatives of Northern Pulp, the NS Government and County representatives. He is now the leading representative of the Northumberland Fisherman’s Association with respect to issue of the proposed effluent pipe.

Robin Wilber | Owner, Elmsdale Lumber, Elmsdale, Nova Scotia

Robin is the third generation owner and operator of Elmsdale Lumber and he proudly looks forward to when his son will take over the business as the fourth generation.

As with other characters seen in The Mill Robin was focused on his own business until it became apparent that the Northern Pulp mill faced potential closure if a replacement for its Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility couldn’t be found by January 2020. Such a closure would have a devastating impact on Elmsdale Lumber threatening it with closure.

In The Mill documentary, Robin describes the significant role Northern Pulp plays in supplying logs to the sawmills and paying a good price for chips and other by-products of the sawmill process. As with other characters in the documentary Robin has taken on the role of public spokesperson. As such, he is a thoughtful, genial businessman who is rightly proud of his company’s achievements and its role in creating jobs in his community. He contributes an important voice to the debate surrounding the future of the Northern Pulp mill.

Credits Block