Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde has expressed concern and support for the Pictou Landing First Nation and other First Nations who are apprehensive of a plan to release millions of liters of pulp mill effluent into the Northumberland Strait.

“It is up to Ottawa to ensure any plan to deal with the mill waste will not impact the First Nations that use the Northumberland Strait for food gathering, water, tourism opportunities, and recreation and swimming,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The population surrounding the Northern Pulp mill should not have to bear the burden of this company’s waste. It is crucial that the impact be studied before any dumping occurs and that First Nations in the region be fully informed and give their approval to any proposal.”

In November 2017, Nova Scotia’s Auditor General found that the province’s liability costs for a contaminated site at Boat Harbour, generated by the activities of Northern Pulp, formerly Scott Paper, rose dramatically from $12 million in 2013 to $130 million in 2017.

“Environmental stewardship is an ancestral legacy of the Mi’kmaw people,” said AFN Nova Scotia-Newfoundland Regional Chief Morley Googoo. “I fully support Chief Andrea Paul and the community of Pictou Landing in their efforts to cease the dumping of Northern Pulp’s effluent into the Northumberland Strait and their commitment to mandate a federal environmental assessment.”

And earlier in 2018, Premier of Prince Edward Island, Wade MacLauchlan, expressed concern over effluent disposal in the Northumberland Strait.

“The Departments of Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, let alone the Prime Minister’s office, is well aware of the drastic effects such a move could have,” said AFN New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Regional Chief Roger Augustine. “So much work is being done with the National Fisheries program, and to see something like this even being considered without taking into consideration our Indigenous Knowledge is an insult.”

The AFN office of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island said they will work closely with the AFN office of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to ensure this plan does not move forward. The AFN Regional Chiefs believe dumping polluting effluent into the Strait will impact their peoples’ inherent rights.

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