A’Se’K’ means “the other room” of a house in Mi’kmaq. To the citizens of the Pictou Landing First Nation it is also the familiar nickname for their beloved Boat Harbour, a former tidal estuary which lies adjacent to their Reserve in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Boat Harbour was the “other room” where many community activities took place leaving many elders with fond memories. Unfortunately, these fond memories ended in 1967 when a government subsidized pulp and paper mill began discharging its industrial effluent into Boat Harbour. Boat Harbour has been ailing ever since.
I have the privilege of representing the citizens of Pictou Landing First Nation in a lawsuit against the Province of Nova Scotia and the current and former owners of the pulp mill. My clients are asking the Court to order the mill owner to stop discharging effluent into Boat Harbour and the Province to clean it up. It is an important case involving many complex environmental and Aboriginal law issues.
I could write a book on Boat Harbour and the travesty visited upon the Pictou Landing First Nation. In fact I have. It’s the Statement of Claim that was filed to start the lawsuit. It traces the history of this sad ordeal from the time of European contact to present. I learned that no land in Pictou County had been set aside for the use and benefit of the Pictou Landing First Nation until 1864 when a mere 50 acres was set aside near Boat Harbour. Before this they were considered trespassers on their own traditional land. One hundred years later the use and enjoyment of the little area of land that was reserved to them was disrupted by the stench of the pulp mill effluent and the pollution of their “other room”.
The Province had promised to close the treatment facility at Boat Harbour in 2008 but did not follow through. This led to the current lawsuit.
I’ve posted the Statement of Claim here for further reading. Boat Harbour Lawsuit Statement of Claim