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Film tells story of Nova Scotia fishing village’s relentless conflict with Ottawa

They feared being swallowed by ocean, though a 78 residents of Gabarus, N.S., never waved a white dwindle before a sovereign government.

For decades, a seawall done of joist and stone stable a small 300-year-old fishing encampment in Cape Breton from a punishing waves of a Atlantic.

But as a 70-year-old structure started to crumble, a unequivocally existence of Gabarus was underneath hazard – and governments were not helping, any turn claiming a wall was not a problem.

The predicament of Gabarus sparked a years-long conflict with Ottawa and kindled a encampment suggestion that has banded together life-long residents with newcomers who staid in a scenic city for a beauty and uncomplicated approach of life.

READ MORE: Storm thrashes deteriorating Gabarus seawall

Their story is chronicled in a new documentary patrician “Only 78,” set to shade during a Atlantic International Film Festival on Sunday in Halifax.

“The people of Gabarus are remarkably volatile and inspiring,” pronounced Toronto filmmaker Jawad Mir, a film’s creator.

“They’ve shown that it doesn’t matter how small we are, we can fight. You usually have to go for it.”

Residents of Gabarus have prolonged argued that Ottawa, that built a seawall in a 1940s, owns a structure and is obliged for progressing it. But a Fisheries Department has regularly pronounced a wall sits roughly wholly on Nova Scotia-owned land and is therefore a provincial and metropolitan responsibility.

“Who cares who owns it? We need to have obliged people step brazen and contend that this isn’t right. We need to have it fixed… The Atlantic Ocean doesn’t give dual hoots about us, though a inaugurated deputy unequivocally should care,” Gabarus proprietor Heather Hayes pronounced during a open assembly in Sydney, N.S., that is shown in “Only 78.”

If a wall was breached, it would put during risk a internal fishing attention – a usually economy – as good as highway entrance to a village, and many homes. It unsuccessful before in a 1980s and was bound by a sovereign government, according to investigate gathered by Gabarus residents.

A seawall in Gabarus, N.S., is shown in this undated welfare photo.

A seawall in Gabarus, N.S., is shown in this undated welfare photo.

The Canadian Press/HO – Gene Kersey

A absolute charge in 2010 that smashed a seawall done matters worse, adding to a urgency.

Tim Menk, 64, and his partner Gene Kersey, 71, changed to Gabarus from a United States in 2008 and satisfied a encampment was “under existential threat.”

WATCH: A large pierce to save Gabarus beacon from exploding coastline





Armed with hundreds of papers and a blessing of a village’s elders, Menk and a small organisation of residents set out to quarrel for appropriation to correct a seawall.

The Friends of Gabarus Society was innate and claimed to have justification that a seawall was a sovereign government’s shortcoming – a idea undisguised deserted by Ottawa on many occasions.

“Those of us who arrived found ourselves fascinated by this place and by a poetic people who were so welcoming… It didn’t matter that we were biracial happy integrate from a States. And we felt we due something to a encampment since they have given so most to us,” pronounced Menk.

“But a opinion was that a supervision is going to do what a government’s going to do. So we were driven by a clarity of dignified snub that a supervision wasn’t doing a right thing here.”

Mir pronounced he was drawn to a story of Gabarus after reading a journal essay in Apr 2013. He self-funded a film, travelling to Cape Breton several times over 4 years on his possess dime, desirous by a relentless advocacy in Gabarus and aiming to assistance their cause.

“There are many communities opposite Canada underneath identical threat, so we suspicion it was critical to tell their story,” pronounced Mir. “I’m always about a underdog.”

READ MORE: Historic New Brunswick beacon broken by fire

After 8 years of meetings, media interviews and even a censure filed with a Public Sector Integrity Commissioner’s office, Gabarus eventually won repairs for a seawall in early 2014 by a $700,000 shared-funding agreement with 3 levels of government.

It served as a matter for continued encampment activism in a ancestral fishing village. Gabarus also won appropriation to pierce a 125-year-old beacon divided from a cliff’s corner to shun coastal erosion, and a residents lifted income to enhance a internal firehall – all of that gained small Gabarus a encampment suggestion endowment from a lieutenant-governor.

Menk pronounced he hopes a story of Gabarus inspires other small communities to take on governments, observant that “Only 78” also touches on a knowledge of Little Anse, N.S., that has lobbied Ottawa – so far, unsuccessfully – to repair a breakwater.

“We’re in a same leaky vessel together in these coastal communities,” pronounced Menk. “Row in a same direction. Unless we do that, we have small possibility of presence in a prolonged term.”

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