Stay on the sidewalk. Hollis Street is a busy, one-way (north to south) commuter street with office buildings, cafes, restaurants and bars.
In the Cape Breton Highlands, the forestry industry has long been an important piece of Nova Scotia’s cultural, financial and political well-being. But during an irruption of spruce budworms in the 1970s, the Highlands’ forests were threatened, and the proposed solution was insecticide sprays.
In Spray Days, artist Kate Phillips teams up with her mother, Connie Phillips, to create a comic-style narrative that discusses the successful protest against anti-budworm pesticide sprays in Nova Scotia, as well as factors leading up to the budworm threat itself. But while the budworm spray protests were successful, they didn’t necessarily lead to the sweeping changes for which many environmentalists had hoped. Spray Days reminds us why we should care about forestry policy, and why ecological activists should keep their attention on politics as well as protests.
The transcript or descriptive text for this piece can be found by touching the "Text" button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen in the "View the Art" section.
Kate Philips is a comic artist and illustrator born and raised in Cape Breton, and currently residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Owner of a large collection of antique meat-grinders and a never-ending pile of laundry, Kate draws artwork that is often playfully searching for strangeness (and queerness) in the mundane world.
Connie Philips, Kate’s mother, also grew up in Cape Breton. She has a passion for history and love for nature, as demonstrated by her well-nurtured vegetable garden. Connie’s experiences growing up in a large family, interrupted by the unusually high cancer rates of the area, inspired her to investigate environmental (and political) factors surrounding the issue, and she found a voice in ecological activism during her younger years.
In 1922, 1952, and again in 1977, the Spruce Budworm epidemic raged in Nova Scotia’s forests, most notably in Cape Breton. In 1977 the forestry leaders were a total buzz-kill, pushing a pro-pesticide agenda based on incomplete research. In fact, after they sprayed pesticides in New Brunswick, the budworm population grew, while costs accumulated. The EAC supported community organizations in Cape Breton which pushed back against the spray and encouraged ecological forestry management practices and silviculture. In 1976, 77 and 78, Nova Scotia chose not to spray, citing health and environmental concerns. Instead, energies were directed towards intensive management and salvage operations, which provided approximately 500 jobs and, over time, took care of the infestation of the budworm.