There’s Something In The Water review — A history of environmental racism revealed

Directed by Ellen Page and Ian Daniel | 73 min | Netflix

Screenings around here sold out in seconds flat, so the interest in this province is high, but I wonder how this film might be received across Canada and elsewhere. If Page’s bravery in coming out inside the glare of Hollywood, and her Gaycation Vice show, hadn’t established her personal credibility and activist credentials, this should do it. Our tiny Canadian star has a huge heart. Her doc, while a little rough in places, is essential viewing.

Page comes back to her home province to examine its brutal history of environmental racism — repeated instances of communities of people of colour and indigenous groups who’ve for decades had to live next to dumps, factories, and mills. No surprise, it’s women who are taking a stand — starting with Ingrid Waldron, who wrote the book that inspired the documentary.

We meet Shelburne retired nurse Louise Delisle, who takes Page to the site of the old dump, and points out the poisoned wells and many people who’ve been sick in the community. Then there’s Michelle Francis-Denny up in Pictou Landing, fighting for the closure of Boat Harbour and the story of three generations of her family who’ve lived in the shadow of the pulp mill. Then they drop by the Grassroots Grannies, a group of Mi’kmaq water protectors fighting against Alton Gas’ plans on the Shubenacadie River.

What Page (and Daniel) accomplishes is shooting from the hip, getting out of the way, and allowing for people who’ve been ignored to have a platform and some deserved attention. This is like Michael Moore if he had the good taste to get the hell off camera once in awhile. It’s remarkably relevant, the kind of perspective we all need to be considering now that the world is on fire.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.