(This article first appeared in the Halifax Examiner on January 25, 2019.)
For many years, when the St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA) held meetings in Sherbrooke on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, the group members’ purpose was primarily to report on the headway they were making in their efforts to achieve their vision of “Health for our river, the Atlantic salmon and our community.”
Members would gather in the St. Mary’s Education and Interpretive Centre, which serves as a “salmon museum” that volunteers from the community built in 2001 with financial help from supporters of their cause.
The interpretive centre is a testament to the storied history of the river. It is filled with exhibits of fly-fishing gear through the ages, photos of species at risk such as wood turtles, and of huge Atlantic salmon specimens that could once be caught in the river. There is also a display devoted to famous anglers who have fished in the river over the decades, including the legendary American baseball player, Babe Ruth.
Past issues of SMRA’s annual newsletters offer a glimpse of the astounding amounts of unpaid time, energy, and enthusiasm that people in rural communities devote to trying to make their small parts of the world better and healthier places. The tone of the newsletter is always upbeat, the reports brimming with optimism and positivity.
The SMRA meeting held this week was not.
This time the subject was not the St. Mary’s River and how to improve it, but Atlantic Gold’s proposed open-pit gold mine and how to stop it.