Author and researcher Hara Saadia just released a new book through Éditions la Francophonie, an editorial house located in Caraquet, New Brunswick.
Titled Développement ou protection de l’environnement? Les discours politiques / Development or environmental protection? Political Speeches, the volume takes the form of a bilingual essay in French and English, illustrated throughout. It is aimed to a young adult audience.
Hara Saadia is originally from Chad, a landlocked country in central Africa. She immigrated to Canada to study health sciences and environmental studies at the Université de Moncton. Saadia is the Environmental Health Programs Coordinator at the New Brunswick Environmental Network.
The author also works a research assistant with the ECHO Network, “a five-year research program, funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant, focused on working together across sectors to take notice of — and respond to — the influence of resource development on health and well-being, with specific emphasis on rural, remote and Indigenous communities and environments.”
Using examples of environmental issues around the Baie des Chaleurs, Saadia illustrates the contradictions between the health of the environment in the area and the impact of projects such as the cement plant in Port-Daniel–Gascons, QC, or the Belledune coal-fired Generating Station in New Brunswick.
The McInnis cement plant has recently received orders to clean up after receiving over 80 complaints of releasing pollutants into the environment.
Saadia’s book is directly political in its scope. For example, the author “make[s] several observations concerning environmental policies in New Brunswick and Quebec by exposing some paradoxes, for example the floral and faunal diversity all along the coastline versus the development of certain heavy and polluting industries, such as the Mcinnis cement plant in Gaspésie, the negative repercussions of which are already beginning to be felt on both sides of the Baie des Chaleurs.”
In the essay, Saadia also mentions the Bennett Environmental Incorporated (BEI) project. BEI is a U.S.-based company whose founder was jailed for fraud in 2016.
In New Brunswick, the Bennett Environmental project aimed to build an incinerator to treat soil contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), carcinogenic chemical compounds that were subsequently banned from production.
By citing these examples, says Saadia, “the book illustrates the laxity surrounding the protection of the environment for the benefit of excessive economic development.”
Through its publication, the author hopes the volume “forc[es] the reader to think about our well-being in a healthy environment or an industrial free market that ignores the ecodiversity that ensures the health balance of our province and our planet.”
The short book is well illustrated by Norélice Mboutou, a painter originally from Congo and living in Moncton since 2009. Mboutou’s drawings are simple yet fitting to the subject at hand, mostly showing individuals discussing environmental issues.
In 2021, Mboutou, who studied Design at the Dieppe Campus of the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau Brunswick, was chosen in the top 300 of the international Poster for Tomorrow competition, organized by a non-governmental organization based in Paris (4tomorrow) which wants to “stimulate debate on issues that affect” us all.
Sophie M. Lavoie is an editorial board member of the NB Media Co-op.