Silver Donald Cameron classic set in the Strait area gets a re-issue

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Silver Donald Cameron

D’ESCOUSSE : One of the area’s literary heavy weights is re-releasing a book hailed as one of Atlantic Canadian best, and at the same time, he’s embarking on a new venture in a new form of media.

Silver Donald Cameron’s The Education of Everett Richardson: The Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Strike 1970-71, originally published in 1977, tells the story of Richardson and 234 other trawlermen from Petit de Grant, Mulgrave, and Canso who fought for the right to unionize. The fight saw the fishermen meet resistance from not only companies but also the government, the courts, the media, the business establishment, the mainstream labour movement, and local churches.

Although the events really happened, readers have often said the text reads like a novel rich in character development and intriguing plot. It was named one of Atlantic Canada’s 100 greatest books, and the text was officially re-launched on November 25 at Cape Breton University.

The new edition includes an introduction from Cameron in which he “reflects on the disappearance of the fishery and the rise of the environmental movement as corporate Canada’s favourite bogeyman.”

“I remember when I was young, you were constantly hearing about strikes,” he said. “That was the front page news, and it was the place where the people who weren’t benefiting from the system took on the owners, and the owners portrayed them as radicals and reds.”

With the rise of automation and jobs moving offshore, many people who would have been part of a labour union are now unemployed or have moved on for other work, he said. As this happened, a large number of people have been growing upset about climate change and other environmental issues: pesticides, plastics in the oceans, etc.

“As people got more and more concern about these issues, they put more and more pressure on the people causing the issues,” he said. “That puts the fossil fuel companies on the spot. They respond by saying these people are a bunch of eco-terrorists across North America.

“It’s very understandable and very human, in a way, but it’s not something we can live with – literally. I think the book has a great deal of relevance today, especially to people fighting social issues today, particularly environmental ones, this book reminds you that even if the forces against you are powerful, you can win.

“These 235 fishermen from three little ports around the Strait of Canso almost brought the province to a halt. I think their examples need to be constantly before us.”

The re-release of the book coincides with the release of the Green Interview Web cast on Ripple FX.

The Green Interview (thegreeninterview.com) is a Web site where Cameron hosts long-form interviews with thinkers, artists, and activists who offer contributions in the field of sustainability. The Web cast is an extension of those interviews, and two offerings are already making the rounds on cyberspace.

On November 18, Cameron chatted with environmentalist Steven Guilbeault, a Liberal MP recently included in Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. On November 25, Jane Goodall was Cameron’s guest. Her work with chimps is legendary in scientific circles.

Cameron will appear in conversation with four more times on the Web cast before Christmas. On December 2, world-cruising sailors Annie Hill and Trevor Robertson, who live incredibly lightly on the planet by living almost entirely on the ocean, will chat with Cameron. On December 9, Cameron talks with Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, a pioneer of environmentally-responsible business; on December 16, the guest will be Marjan Minnesma of the Urgenda Foundation, whose lawsuit forced the Dutch government to meet its own climate goals; and on December 23, Cameron visits with Edmund Metatawabin, an elder who grew up in the traditional life of the James Bay Cree, and strives to preserve its knowledge and values.

“I see more possibilities for other things we might do,” Cameron said, suggesting that the six-part Web cast may expand in the New Year.

To watch the webcast, visit: www.facebook.com/soundwaveproductions/ at 9 p.m. (Atlantic) and click the button that invites visitors to watch the cast.

To order any of Cameron’s books, visit www.silverdonaldcameron.ca.