We shall consider two related protests, out of many. One is about Kluscap mountains, a sacred area (also known as Kelly Mountain). The second is in Canso, Guysborough County.
The first protests on Kluscap started decades ago. In the autumn of 1996, Sulian Stone Eagle Herney—Mi’kmaq elder from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, director of the Sacred Mountain Society (SMS), and founder of the First Nations Environmental Network— was invited to talk to an audience at the Stone Angel Café in downtown Ottawa. (5) He spoke of the inseparable relationship between First Nations people and nature/land on which claims to sovereignty were based. He had become an environmentalist, he explained, because without land there would be nothing to be a First Nationist about. He traced his growing intervention in environmental politics to the struggle against a corporate proposal to quarry Kluskap’s Mountain, the site of a cave sacred to Kluskap, a figure of central spiritual importance to Mi’kmaq people, to produce aggregate for road building in the US. Earlier, Herney had been invited to appear before the public inquiry into a superquarry at Lingerbay, southeast Harris, Scotland, "Herney’s appearance on the Isle of Harris suggests both a common purpose amidst diversity of postcolonial experience at a global level and a certain measure of irony, given the participation of those forced from the land in the Outer Hebrides during the Clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the colonisation of Nova Scotia (Dalby and Mackenzie 1997; Hunter 1994). On Harris, Herney spoke on that occasion of the rekindling of “traditional values and codes of conduct … that reawakened the true Mi’kmaq spirit and spiritual connection to Mother Earth and theCreator”. (5).
The conflict on the Kluscap (or Kelly) mountain continues in 2017 (1). Another granite quarrying conflict takes place near Canso, by the Vulcan Materials Corporation (see Project Details).
These conflicts ate interrelated. In 2017, the Mining Association of Nova Scotia released a report stating that Cape Breton is being 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. “It’s very similar in fact to the quarry that’s at the Strait of Canso...". , he said. (3) 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.”(3).
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.(3).