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Kent County chapter supports Happy Campers blockade against glyphosate spraying

The Council of Canadians Kent County chapter is part of the ‘Happy Campers’ encampment at Kedgwick River, New Brunswick seeking to stop the spraying of the carcinogenic herbicide glyphosate.

The CBC reports, “A small group of environmental activists has set up an encampment in a clearcut near Kedgwick River to try to prevent it from being sprayed with glyphosate. The 10 people from EcoVie say they intend to disrupt any spraying on the Crown land, which is licenced to Acadian Forest.”

The news article adds, “[Spokesperson Jean] MacDonald said the group plans to stay in the encampment as long as there is glyphosate spraying in Madawaska County.” She says, “We do have protective gear in place, [but] we’re hoping that industry will not actually come and spray us.”

MacDonald also comments, “We have issues concerning health, our health, our wildlife, our water, our air, our soil. And we’re not getting any responses or any answers from the government that really tie in with the reports and the studies that are coming out throughout Europe and the United States and South America.”

In March 2015 the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research against Cancer found the world’s most commonly used herbicide, glyphosate, “probably carcinogenic to humans”. In February 2016, ANSES – France’s food, environment and health agency – also concluded that glyphosate is a suspected carcinogen.

In December 2015, New Brunswick’s then-chief medical officer of health Dr. Eilish Cleary was working on a study on glyphosate when she was put on leave and then fired by the provincial government. Eight months later,  Dr. Cleary’s replacement, Dr. Jennifer Russell, finally released a report on glyphosate that says there is “no increased risk for New Brunswickers exposed to glyphosate”.

CBC has previously reported, “Glyphosate is a herbicide used widely in the province as a defoliant by a number of companies, including NB Power and J.D. Irving Ltd.” And Radio-Canada International has explained, “The provincial government in New Brunswick has been spraying herbicides on 15,000 hectares of crown land since the 1970’s when it first permitted pulp and paper companies to clearcut natural forest and replace it with plantations. The taxpayer funded programme is to benefit the lumber industry by protecting fast growing softwood trees from encroaching hardwood saplings. The hardwood saplings however are an important food supply for deer and moose, and there have been suggestions that the programme has removed thousands of tons of such food and has contributed to the steep decline in moose and deer numbers in the province in the past ten years.”

The Adopt a Clearcut, Stop the Spraying Facebook page says, “[This encampment] is one inspirational example of what a community group in Northwest New Brunswick is doing. You can get on up and join the Happy Campers (sober fun, totally non-violent) OR you can do something to protect the forest and its creatures near you. (for example: Camp in a clearcut near you) Please share your actions on here. Please bring food and camping equipment if going to the Happy Camper site near Kedgwick.”

They add, “The Happy Campers site is located on Chemin de la Shop a Savon, just off Highway 17. Travel in White’s Brook Road by the old church about 4.5 km, and then turn right when you come to a T in the road.”

The Peace and Friendship Alliance, an alliance made up of Indigenous, Acadian, and Anglophone New Brunswickers, will be holding its monthly meeting in Kedgwick River tomorrow (Saturday August 27).

It is expected that the encampment will be in place until September 6.