2006 January 3
By BARB RAYNER
ST. ANDREWS The town has named all the groups [Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-Nation Alliance] involved in the battle against liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Passamaquoddy Bay for the group Volunteer of the Year award for 2005 and the individual award was presented to Art MacKay for his tireless efforts in opposing LNG.
The awards were presented at the mayor's levee, held at the town hall New Year's Day, by Mayor John Craig, who welcomed everyone to the celebrations and said it was a day to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one.
During the past year, he said, the town lost a beloved employee and a dear friend Dwayne Williams after a short battle with cancer. He said the levee was dedicated in memory of Williams and asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence for this 29-year employee of the town.
Former mayor Chris Flemming then read a New Year's poem entitled "Don't Look Back" and Carol Adamowicz sang a special New Year song accompanying herself on the harp.
It was two years ago, said Mayor Craig, that they established the mayor's levee Volunteer of the Year awards.
The idea of having these awards, he said, was to recognize volunteers since the town is blessed with so many and, like so many communities, is dependent on them.
During 2005 many people came forward to help with the struggle against LNG terminals from being set up in Passamaquoddy Bay, said Mayor Craig.
"People from all sides of the Passamaquoddy Bay and surrounding areas have recognized the threat and potential damage that will be caused if these companies become successful. It is difficult to place importance of one person ahead of another when everyone's contribution has become magnitude.
"This award is not only an opportunity to recognize everyone involved that have supported this cause but it is also an opportunity to keep this issue in front of our government during an election period. It is past time for our Prime Minister to take a stand and protect our sovereign rights and say no to any LNG tankers coming through Head Harbour Passage," said the mayor.
Mayor Craig said he was extremely proud to present the award to all the volunteers from all sides of the bay and the surroundings areas who have taken their valuable time to help with this cause to protect the bay and continue the resistance to this threat.
One of the members of that group is New Brunswick Southwest MP Greg Thompson who, said the mayor, has fought hard against LNG since day one.
Thompson said he was not going to make a political speech and congratulated the mayor and town council on corking up a national issue.
"You have taken a local issue and worked with various levels of government to make it very much a national issue which is really on the radar screen and that's really important - so the outcome we don't know yet. It will probably depend on a number of factors which will transpire in the next two or three weeks."
Bob Godfrey, who is a member of the Save Passamaquoddy Bay group in Eastport, said his wife Linda, who is coordinator of the group, was unable to be present because she was in the midst of her own birthday party.
He read a note from his wife to the mayor and council who said,"What an honour you have bestowed on all of the members and supporters of Save Passamaquoddy Bay. Our three nation alliance has been strengthened now and forever by your leadership, courage, connection and now your public recognition of our collective work."
She added, "Today we respectfully ask that all Canadian leaders heed those wonderful words in 'O Canada' and stand on guard for this great bay. We respectfully ask that all American leaders honour this work of memory shared hopes and friendships expressed in Auld Lang Syne. When the leaders show the courage, strength and commitment of we followers we will save Passamaquoddy Bay."
Hugh Akagi brought greetings and gratitude from the Passamaquoddy people noting that not that long ago he would never have felt welcome at an event like this but he absolutely felt welcome now.
"I think you know that the battle rages on in our homeland and we are all involved here. Yes I live in Canada, yes I live in St. Andrews and yes I'm Passamaquoddy but it is our homeland and I'm speaking for everybody in this room."
Mark [Dittrick], conservation chair of the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada, said the Sierra Clubs in both Canada and the US really consider the LNG proposals a very important issue. He said Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, is in Ottawa working very, very hard on this issue.
"People ask me what's going to happen with Passamaquoddy Bay and I'm very optimistic. I think we're going to send them packing. I think we're going to save Passamaquoddy Bay from this kind of irresponsible so-called economic development so this is a great honour and I think next year, at the next levee, we'll be celebrating the fact that we will have turned these people away."
Mayor Craig said it was in early July that it was announced another LNG facility was being proposed for Robbinston, Maine, directly across the bay from St. Andrews. With this announcement he said St. Andrews immediately became involved in the struggle to prevent any and all LNG facilities from being built on Passamaquoddy Bay.
Town council was approached by the two companies proposing the LNG terminals to give a presentation of their proposals. Council chose to have this meeting in a larger venue to accommodate everyone wanting to hear these presentations as they felt it was important and sensible to get all the facts out to its citizens.
"Council needed to have an expert, knowledgeable in the Passamaquoddy Bay and all the repercussions LNG facilities would have on the bay to give a presentation that same evening. The town turned to Art MacKay, who willingly and without hesitation agreed to help out our town."
Council chose Monday, Aug. 22 to have the meeting at the W.C. O'Neill Arena, said Mayor Craig, spending approximately $10,000 to advertise and set up proper sound systems and displays to accommodate the companies' presentations.
"Within a week of the meeting, and after much money being spent on advertising, both companies announced they would not attend citing security and scheduling concerns. Town council decided to go ahead with the meeting and asked Art MacKay to gather information from the two companies' own literature and give their presentations for them. Art, again, readily agreed to do this and felt it important to give all sides to the issue."
Over 1,200 attended the largest meeting St. Andrews town council ever held Monday, Aug. 22, said the mayor, and MacKay successfully gave professional and well thought out presentations, answered questions and informed the public on the subject matter.
"Art has never asked to be paid for his work and continues to this day to inform the town on any new developments and helps answer any questions that any citizen may have.
"It is by nominating Art MacKay as Volunteer of the Year for 2005 that the issue of LNGs on Passamaquoddy Bay and destroying what it took generations to build, not be forgotten. It is also, again, an opportunity to recognize the work of those different groups to save Passamaquoddy Bay on both sides of the border that is continuing the resistance to that threat."
MacKay said there were many people involved in the award and he was the person who stood up and spoke - and was really pleased to do so. This, he said, was a shared award. He said a year-and-a-half ago when he gave the first talk to the Passamaquoddy people he tried to explain to them why it was so important to him.
"Basically, it's important to me because my soul lives in this place. It's more than just a beautiful place, more than just wonderful people - it's where my soul resides. I think most of us here understand what I'm talking about when I say that."
However, he said, they have always taken it for granted and assumed it would grow within the context that it's always grown on resource-based industries and the beautiful place. Now they are threatened in the same way that they were by Pittston in the 1970s.
"If we truly, truly believe in it then we need to build it and we need to build it on the foundation that we have found....I think, from my point of view, we've found the bigger community and we're just components of that community...I think we have to view this as an opportunity to build the place we live in and we love."
MacKay, who is currently contracted as the executive director of the St. Croix Estuary Project and Ganong Nature Park, received his Bachelor of Science degree at UNB in 1961 and carried out graduate studies at McGill University for three years.
He taught at McGill, the University of Victoria and UNB before establishing a biological supply and consulting business in Charlotte County in 1964 and aquaculture companies at Deer Island and Eastport in 1979 and 1980 respectively.
He played a lead role in the development of salmon aquaculture in New Brunswick and Maine and is credited with establishing the first successful Atlantic salmon farms in both these jurisdictions. His professional work has taken him to the U.S., Norway, Thailand, and India.
Throughout this period MacKay has had a continuous involvement with education at various levels. He has taught at junior high, high school and university levels and has presented lectures and field courses to a variety of private and public organizations.
In addition, he has lectured on leadership in the Canadian Navy and has made many presentations on behalf of the aquaculture industry and conservation efforts. He was education director at the Atlantic Salmon Federation for three years.
MacKay also has an extensive background in publishing, printing, graphic design and display construction. Involvement in this field was through an in-house print shop operated during the 1970s and 80s. He is an artist and commercial illustrator. MacKay has sold numerous paintings and illustrations and has works in many private collections.
© 2006 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB