Ellen Page says she feels responsibility to spotlight efforts of N.S. activists
An impending apocalypse looms over Netflix’s new series “The Umbrella Academy” – but for Canadian star Ellen Page, the prospect of the end of the world doesn’t seem that unrealistic.
And much like the show’s dysfunctional superhero family, Page fears society will succumb to squabbling and apathy in confronting environmental catastrophe, particularly in her home province of Nova Scotia.
In an interview with two of her co-stars, the Halifax-born Oscar nominee said she feels a responsibility to amplify the voices of marginalized communities who are disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards.
“There are so many issues happening, and not enough people know about it, and that’s because, of course, marginalized people are continuously silenced,” Page said.
“It’s a beautiful province and a beautiful country, and I don’t think people know the realities of what’s happening, particularly how the most marginalized are brutally affected.”
Echoing her numerous tweets on the issue, Page pointed to instances of what she sees as environmental racism, such as the landfills that surround predominantly black communities in rural Nova Scotia.
She has also been a vocal critic of the Northern Pulp mill’s plan to close its effluent treatment facility in Boat Harbour, a heavily polluted lagoon on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation.
The company is proposing to build a new treatment facility and a pipeline to carry treated wastewater, or effluent, to be discharged in the Northumberland Strait. The project, which was formally registered with Nova Scotia’s Environment Department earlier this month, has raised the ire of fishermen, environmentalists, Indigenous activists and allies.
“There’s been so much complacency with the government. Worse than that throughout history, actually,” said Page, who has starred in “Inception,” “Juno,” “X-Men” and numerous other films. “We need to do something, because this makes people sick.”
WATCH: Page slams Pence over LGBTQ rights during Colbert appearance
Asked about Page’s criticism, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said his government will make its environmental assessment based on the scientific merits, not the commentary of people “from far away.”
“Everyone’s entitled to express their own opinion,” McNeil told reporters Thursday.
But Page said she sees her role not as an outside agitator, but a listener who can use her platform to spotlight the important work that’s happening on the ground.
“I’m trying to figure out ways to strategize, because it’s local activists who have been fighting who should be leading the way,” she said. “I just want to learn and do what I can to support and make changes in Nova Scotia.”
Page brought global attention to these issues during a recent appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” which has been viewed online nearly 1.4 million times. She also took aim at U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the talk show for his stance on LGBTQ policies, saying the politician would prefer she and her wife not be married.
Speaking to The Canadian Press on Thursday, Page said Canada has made strides in backing LGBTQ rights, but more work needs to be done to protect most vulnerable members of the community.
“I didn’t grow up in a queer positive environment, but I’m grateful to see it’s changing, and for all the activists there who have created so much change in Halifax,” said Page. “We need to be mindful that a lot of the time, we see the progress and don’t understand that certain members of the community are dealing with a lot of day-to-day struggles.”
“The Umbrella Academy” begins streaming on Netflix on Friday.
– with files from Keith Doucette in Halifax
© 2019 The Canadian Press