|(Halifax, NS) – “I’ve lived in parts of rural Africa, and in India; I’ve been able to shower in my own home, everywhere I’ve lived,” says Melissa King. But not in the Halifax suburb of Harrietsfield, where contaminated water forced her family to abandon their home and drove them into bankruptcy.
Wilhelmina (“Willi”) Nolan was protesting fracking near Elsipogtog, New Brunswick. “I noticed at one point that there were five policemen all around me. I’m by myself. I weigh 105 pounds, eh? It only struck me at that moment, they were about to arrest me!”
In Pictou, NS, Anne Emmet, owner of a small inn, says the smog from the Northern Pulp mill “is no longer the smell of money, it’s the kiss of death.” Business leader Paul Sobey calls the pollution from the mill “a horrific problem here in this community.”
These are among the stories captured in Defenders of the Dawn, a documentary film written and narrated by renowned author and broadcaster Silver Donald Cameron. The title reflects the Wabanaki name for northeastern North America, “the dawnlands,” and the subtitle “Green Rights in the Maritimes” reflects the fact that more than 90% of the world’s nations recognize the human right to a healthy habitat – but Canada does not. Maritimers fighting for the right to clean air and pure water get no help from the law – so they are fighting in the courts, in the legislatures, and in the streets.
In other countries, says Cameron, “all members of the community have a right to clean air and water – and they can assert those rights through the courts.” Silver Donald and his small team travelled to the islands of the Philippines, the rainforests of Ecuador, and the Supreme Court of Argentina, collecting inspiring stories about heroic citizens and lawyers taking on giant polluters – and winning.
“If we want Canada to catch up with Ecuador, Argentina and the Philippines,” he asks, “what do we do next?” His answers: organize (as David Suzuki is doing), petition the legislature (as New Brunswick parents and health workers are doing), sue (as the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance is doing), or pass municipal by-laws recognizing the rights of local citizens (as Nova Scotia’s Inverness County has done). And do it all in partnership with the First Nations, the original peoples of the dawn.
Join in the conversation. Watch “Defenders of the Dawn: GreenRights in the Maritimes” on Saturday, September 5th at 8 p.m. Atlantic, on CBC-TV Absolutely Maritimes. For more information, visit www.DefendersoftheDawn.ca or view the trailer at www.cbc.ca/absolutelycanadian/maritimes. You can also follow the story on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greenrightsfilm or on Twitter @GreenRightsFilm.
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Silver Donald Cameron and Director/Editor Chris Beckett are available for interview. Please call (902) 227-5245.