Every year, on the last weekend in July, thousands of people gather on Chapel Island at Saint Anne’s Mission–the longest continuous Mission in Canada. In addition to its religious importance, the Mission is a place where people gather to share news with other Mi’kmaq from around the region.
Over four thousand people are expected to attend the event this year, with people staying on the Island and on grounds on the mainland. Although the weekend is a positive and uplifting affair, it does have its dark side–every year the community is left to deal with mounds of garbage and recycling, sewage, and a stressed environment.
This year, Pitu’paq is working on a plan to address these environmental concerns. Pitu’paq is a partnership of the five Mi’kmaq Chiefs of Unama’ki and the five municipal Wardens and Mayors of Cape Breton, established to deal with sewage issues in the Bras d’Or Lakes. A planning team has been formed to oversee the Mission project that includes representation from the Mi’kmaq Grand Council Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, Grand Captain Andrew Denny and Captain John Duncan Johnson. Tahirih Paul and Barry Bernard are project coordinators.
Visitors to Chapel Island will see significant changes that will improve their Mission experience. A group of dedicated students have been hired and will play an active role in implementing these new, positive initiatives. When people arrive at the Mission, they will be greeted by the students distributing welcome kits with information on sewage, recycling, waste, and safe water plans. All trailers will require a permit with the $20 fee directed toward the costs of cleanup and sewage and waste management.
The planning team is confident that this is a plan that will provide a cleaner, healthier experience and one that everyone will be happy to support–definitely, a Mission Possible!