Photo Courtesy of THE MILL (2019)
Pictou County, Nova Scotia struggles to define its future amid economic and environmental tensions involving the notorious Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility. Will the government keep its promise to the Pictou Landing First Nation community and hold the mill to its closure date?
TORONTO, ON—From Site Media filmmaker David W. Craig and award-winning producer Ann Bernier, The Mill explores the entangled history of the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, Nova Scotia and its deeply rooted effects on the economy, the Indigenous community and the traditional lifestyles of this maritime locale.
At a troubled crossroads with the Canadian and Nova Scotia governments, the Northern Pulp mill faces a legally imposed deadline of January 2020 for the closure of its effluent treatment facility at Boat Harbour located on traditional Mi’kmaq lands expropriated in the 1960’s. A Gordian knot of unanticipated consequences, former Nova Scotia Environment Minister Ian Rankin has described Boat Harbour as Nova Scotia’s worst case of environmental racism. If the mill cannot get a new facility in place by 2020, it will close, affecting more than 2,700 jobs in rural Nova Scotia.
Facing opposition from local fishermen to its proposed new treatment facility Northern Pulp is now unable to meet the deadline and it is asking for an extension. The community is caught in a deep divide between those who support the mill and those who want the government to keep its promise to close and clean up Boat Harbour.
The Mill offers piercing insight and emotional stories of loss and resilience from Chief Andrea Paul of the Pictou Landing First Nation and shows the resistance put up by local fishermen. It also features Premier Stephen MacNeil, journalist Aaron Beswick, Northern Pulp manager Bruce Chapman, and many more.
The Mill will have its broadcast premier on CBC Docs POV on Thursday, August 29 at 9 p.m. ET (9:30 NT).
“I have resided in Pictou County for the past 17 years. Everyone here has lived with the mill and its impact for a long time but the closure of Boat Harbour has brought the situation to a head,” says filmmaker David Craig. “As the situation reaches the boiling point I set out to make a film that not only highlights the conflict but sets out the stakes for a community that wants to be optimistic about its future possibilities and opportunities.”
As the deadline of January 2020 looms, residents of Pictou County as well as many Canadians following the 50-year-old debate anxiously look on as the pressure mounts on the government of Premier Stephen MacNeil to arbitrate an unprecedented stand off between a coalition of local Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers and a province-wide forestry sector. With thousands of jobs at stake either way this is a real-life case study of the debate over protecting the environment or protecting industry.
The Mill will have its broadcast premiere on CBC Docs POV on August 29 at 9 p.m. ET (9:30 NT). The Mill will also be streaming on the free CBC Gem streaming service beginning August 29.
The Mill was made possible with the assistance of the Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund, Ontario Creates Film & Television Tax Credit, and The Canadian Film or Video Film Tax Credit. The Mill is a co-production made in collaboration with CBC and Canadian Media Fund
ABOUT DAVID W. CRAIG | Filmmaker
Based in Toronto and Pictou County, David Craig is a co-founder of the independent documentary film company Site Media Inc. and a producer on all its films. Site Media’s last film, “Strange and Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island” won Best Atlantic Documentary at the 2015 Atlantic Film Festival and screened around the world. Before heading to Toronto to work at the Ontario Arts Council and Telefilm Canada he started his career in film in Halifax working on William D. MacGillivray’s “Life Classes” one of the first feature films to be made in Atlantic Canada.
ABOUT ANN BERNIER | Producer
Ann Bernier has over three decades of experience as a professional in the screen industry in Canada. She was Director of Operations and Development at imX Communications Inc. which produced such award winning co-production films as Margaret’s Museum starring Helena Bonham Carter, Love and Death on Long Island starring John Hurt and Jason Priestly, New Waterford Girl. While there, she produced The Wild Dogs by Thom Fitzgerald and the Canada/France co-production Folle Embellie. She is a producer on John Walker’s last three feature documentary including his most recent Assholes: A Theory for documentary Channel. Ann also worked at Telefilm Canada as an executive where she oversaw film and television development projects and later the new media fund. Ann left the public sector and joined the Atlantic Film Festival to produce the international co-production conference Strategic Partners for two years with the UK and Ibero-America. For the past 5 years, she has been on the selection committee for Canada’s official selection of the Academy Awards Foreign language film
Ann is a great supporter of emerging talent and spends time mentoring upcoming filmmakers and producers. She is also the recipient of the 2017 WIFT-AT Wave Award recognizing her significant body of work. She and her partner Chris Zimmer run Vertical Productions Inc. and are developing a number of projects including two television drama series, the animation feature film Koati and a feature film Monica’s News.