Cape Breton Post

This map supplied by the Mining Association of Nova Scotia shows protected areas across Cape Breton. The association wants the province to ease regulations so it can explore 154 known mineral occurrences that are on protected land.This map supplied by the Mining Association of Nova Scotia shows protected areas across Cape Breton. The association wants the province to ease regulations so it can explore 154 known mineral occurrences that are on protected land. – Sumitted

Mining association wants to develop quarry; Mi’kmaq leader says area is First Nations holy ground

The Mining Association of Nova Scotia recently released a report stating that Cape Breton is being disproportionately harmed by the provincial government’s Parks and Protected Areas Plan, which limits or prevents mining on development on 154 known mineral occurrences on the island.

One of those potential projects is an aggregate deposit in Victoria County that is completely covered by the Kluscap Wilderness Area.

Sean Kirby, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, said the Kellys Mountain project has the potential to create 80 direct jobs for 50 years or more. He compared the deposit’s geology to Porcupine Mountain quarry in Aulds Cove.

“It’s very similar in fact to the quarry that’s at the Strait of Canso, right by the Canso Causeway, which has been in operation since the 1950s and employs about 100 people,” he said. “This is a very equivalent deposit that, if it weren’t for the protected areas totally overlapping it, there’s the possibility that it could become that sort of project that would create work for about 80 people directly for decades and decades.”

However, Rod Googoo, chief of Waycobah First Nation, says Kellys Mountain is sacred to the Mi’kmaq people, who call it Kluscap Mountain. According to Mi’kmaq legend, the prophet Kluscap (or Glooscap) lived in a seaside cave, known locally as the fairy hole, near Cape Dauphin, at the northern tip of the Kluscap Wilderness Area.

“It’s been in our oral tradition for centuries — they always talked about that. We don’t have a written a history — we have an oral history — and we’ve always spoken about Kluscap Mountain as having a very sacred connection to us,” said Googoo, who is also the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs’ lead chief for lands, wildlife and forestry.

“We, the Mi’kmaq people, we would never dare enter into any place which is considered sacred by any other race — whether it be a temple, whether it be a church, whether it be a mosque — and disrespect it, or deface it, or do something that’s taboo.”

Kirby said while the Mining Association of Nova Scotia agrees with the basic objectives of the protected areas plan, there can be a better balance between the environment and the economy. He suggested a provincially regulated “land swap” mechanism that would allow mining companies to trade other ecologically valuable land for land in protected areas that have valuable mineral deposits.

“Kellys Mountain is one example where we have this massive potential economic opportunity that’s completely covered by protected areas,” he said, “and if we do a land swap just to uncover the deposit — maintain the rest of the protected area around it, but to uncover the deposit, do the quarrying that would be possible there for a half century or more — and probably at the end of the half century, that site would be reclaimed and perhaps returned to the protected area.”

Googoo said extracting resources from the land because it creates jobs is wrong.

“It really doesn’t because all it does is make some corporations very rich, and it’s not leaving anything for Cape Breton, really,” he said.

“That can’t continue on, this tradeoff of jobs for the sake of overlooking what we believe in. And it’s coming to that point now all across Canada. It’s not only native people — everybody is getting tired of it. Cape Breton is a beautiful, beautiful piece of real estate — gorgeous — we should be exploiting the natural beauty of the island as opposed to exploiting the resources. What do we have left in Cape Breton, really? There’s nothing much left. All we have is natural beauty, and then once you start digging up resources, what do we have left then? What’s going to happen once everything that’s in the ground is extracted? There’s nothing left. There’s nothing in the oceans. There’s no more trees to cut down. No more gold or oil? What’s going to happen then? What do we have left? Nothing.”