About the Documentarian
They're Taking Our Breath Away (Part Two)
ACCORDING TO THEIR WEBSITE, The Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries wood pulp mill, created in 1990, was a leader in the adoption of higher environmental standards and a creator of jobs for the local Athabasca region.
According to Pat Bellamy, that was all hogwash.
Pat Bellamy, a Newport News native for most of her adult life, moved to Athabasca after her children had grown. More than just “empty nest syndrome,” though, her decision to move to Athabasca was a purposeful one.
Citing the move away from the hectic and busy developing city of Newport News, the move to Athabasca was something of religious significance to both Pat and her husband. Believing a stronger connection to nature would clarify their connection with God, they sought out that nature. And they sought it out in its purest form. They would become organic farmers, far away from any pollution.
Spreading out a map of Canada, the two, pins in hand, marked out each and every wood pulp mill. Each spot on the map representing pollution. Each spot on the map becoming a hurdle to jump through in their connection to God. And this map was covered. Saturated with the little plastic pins, it took their eyes a moment until they spotted the one bare spot-- Athabasca.
They packed their bags.
Even despite their lack of experience, Pat being an interior designer and her husband, a construction worker, they carried out their plan. That is, until rumors that a mill would be coming made their way to them.
Pat wasn’t going to go down without a fight, though. Involved in a citizens group, she worked with people of all ages and backgrounds to urge their political leader, Ralph Klein, to oppose the mill. She was going to protect that nature that she sought. She was going to save the trees.
Her work was ultimately rewarded with only the middle finger of, as she sarcastically puts it, her “great leader” Ralph Klein.
It was an interesting story and I wanted to hear more about the specifics on the story. I was interested in hearing about the protest, her organizing of people, her work, her passion.
Pat isn’t one to dwell on the past, though. She offered but a few key quotes on the subject:
“You move somewhere in the country to get fresh air, and all you get is pulp.”
“I don’t think people will ever get over noticing the difference— it stinks. There isn’t any other way to describe it.”
“Pulp has taken over”
“They’re taking our breath away.” ◊
MORGAN BARCLAY is a sophomore at Christopher Newport University studying English, Film, and Leadership. She hopes to become as reluctantly involved as Pat.
"Past, Present & Future"
Story & Video by Morgan Barclay
“They’re taking our very breath,” Pat Bellamy warns me. When talking about her life, Pat worries about—and also does something to make the present and future better. An activist through and through, she says she can't understand why so many are complacent and she “can’t imagine how people can be so stupid.” From fostering children, to fighting a wood mill, to getting rid of an ugly cabbage painting in the corridor of her building, she reluctantly becomes involved as she makes the world a better place.
"Notes on the Future" (1:04)