HALIFAX: A community on Isle Madame is in a new documentary examining the effects of climate change.
Centering on efforts by the community of Gabarus to lobby the provincial and federal governments to replace an aging seawall, the documentary ONLY 78 also features the struggles of Little Anse against the forces of coastal erosion.
Director, producer, editor, and cinematographer Jawad Mir said the original inspiration for the film came from an article about Gabarus in the Globe and Mail about five years ago.
“I read an article and felt that these people are people regardless of how many of them are there and something needs to be done,” Mir recalled. “They are Canadians… It was a pure desire to help these people out and use the medium of film to do that.”
Mir said that although the primary theme of the film is a small villages’ fight against government, ONLY 78 also discusses themes of social acceptance and climate change.
“The village has 78 residents,” Mir said, explaining how he decided on the title. “And the fact that the government ignored these communities of similar size due to lack of economical activity and large population, the title begs to differ. It questions are the lives of ONLY 78 people not important?”
In January 2009, a powerful winter storm including high seas, gale force winds and a powerful tidal surge breached the breakwater in Little Anse, destroying the community’s wharf and completely flooding the main road.
Mir noted that the case of Little Anse arose during interviews and involves the same struggles hundreds of other coastal communities are facing.
“Nothing particular stood out other than that these are people who live here and have generations connected to these areas,” Mir said of Little Anse. “They need to be saved and paid attention to and their heritage.”
The makers of the documentary are starting a Cape Breton road show for the film. They are planning two showings; the first will be at the SAERC auditorium in Port Hawkesbury on Friday (November 17) at 6 p.m., the second is on Friday (November 18) at 6 p.m. at the École Beau-Port auditorium in Arichat.
Mir added hopes that the documentary will create more awareness and inspire people to act.
“We always hear about climate change at a large scale or about bigger cities and nothing should be taken away from that, but we often forget about smaller communities,” Mir stated. “We need to pay attention to them because people live there just like in larger cities.
“… Fight regardless of how insignificant you may feel. Unless you stand up for what’s your right, the government, or anyone for that matter, won’t care.”