In There’s Something In the Water, a new documentary premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, co-directors and producers Ellen Page and Ian Daniel introduce viewers to several women who are taking a stand against environmental racism in Page’s home province of Nova Scotia, Canada. In a first clip from the movie, above, we meet one such woman, Michelle Francis-Denny.
The granddaughter of a former Pictou Landing First Nation chief, Francis-Denny has seen the ramifications of environmental injustice in her community. When her grandfather was in charge, local government officials lied to him in their efforts to secure the rights to Boat Harbour — a valuable resource for the indigenous community — to use it for pulp effluent, or liquid waste, from a nearby mill. Promising that no harm would come to the area, the provincial government paid the Pictou Landing First Nation $65,000 to gain control of the water. In what’s now known as one of the worst instances of environmental racism in Canada, Boat Harbour became a dumping ground for toxic waste from the mill.
In the clip, Page is seen drawing her scarf over her face, trying to block the stench that now emanates from Boat Harbour, following about 50 years of pollution. Francis-Denny explains that the smell pervades the entire indigenous community that calls the area home.
“It just sticks to the walls,” she says. “All this is blowing over into our community, so not only are we suffering knowing that this exists to our water, look at our air as well. It’s sad.”
Boat Harbour is just one example of the way environmental racism — the decisions and policies implemented by local governments and corporations that expose minority communities to environmental hazards — plagues indigenous and black communities across […]