Victory doubtful looking back 12 years at Frederick Street

Cape Breton Post
Letter by Juanita McKenzie
Thurs., Jan 21, 2010

Sometimes when you try to forget something it has a way of raising its ugly head again. Twelve years ago, six concerned residents fought to have a streetís residents relocated to a safer environment. We were your ordinary, hard-working, middle class people. We werenít top dogs of the city. What did we know of laws, politics and environmentally unfriendly toxins? We found out in a hurry. We educated ourselves but, we were ridiculed, scorned, threatened; we even lost friends on our quest to be relocated from an environment we felt was making us sick. We didnít stray from our convictions. We took on three levels of government and we won.

If you listen to the governmentís story, it moved us on compassionate grounds. So, 12 years later, as I drive over the Whitney Pier overpass every day to work, I look at the capping of the toxic grounds, the new industrial park going up, the new highway, all the new trees being planted. Frederick Street is only a sign on the end of a road now. I look in sadness, not happiness. I look at a road that my children played once on, where good friendships were started. And I think, what did we win? In the last couple of weeks or so we have lost two dear friends who were part of our group, and on March 9, 2009, I lost my daughter to cancer. She was 33. Four days before her death she asked me: "Mom, did Frederick Street do this to me?" "I donít know," I answered. "I donít know."

But each day I drive over the overpass and thank God nobody else is living there. I lost a kidney to cancer five years ago. I say to government: "Thank-you for your compassion. We know the real reason for the relocation and nobody will ever change our minds."

To my dear friends and my darling daughter I say rest in peace. I will forever miss them.

Juanita McKenzie
New Victoria