Think Out Loud

Graphic novel tackles life on the Canadian oil sands

By Sage Van Wing (OPB)
Nov. 22, 2022 8:16 p.m. Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 8:16 p.m.

Broadcast: Wednesday, Nov. 23

Kate Beaton's new book is a graphic memoir about her time working in Canada's oil sands.

Kate Beaton's new book is a graphic memoir about her time working in Canada's oil sands.

Courtesy of Drawn and Quarter

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

Kate Beaton gained an international following for “Hark, a Vagrant,” a quirky, satirical, historically informed comic strip. Beaton’s newest book takes a very different turn. It is a deeply personal graphic memoir called “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands” about the time she spent working in the oil industry in Alberta, Canada, in the mid-2000s. The book is a brutally honest exploration of class, migration, misogyny, and the culture of her homeland: the island of Cape Breton, in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia.

Note: This transcript was computer generated and edited by a volunteer.

Dave Miller: This is Think Out Loud on OPB. I’m Dave Miller. We’re going to bring you an hour today with the writer Kate Beaton. She gained an international following for “Hark, a Vagrant,” a quirky, satirical, historically informed comic strip. Her new book is very different. It’s a deeply personal graphic memoir called “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands.” It’s about the time she spent working in the oil industry in Alberta, Canada in the mid 2000s. She went there to pay off her student loans. Her book about that time is a brutally honest exploration of class, migration, misogyny, and the culture of her homeland, the island of Cape Breton on the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia. We spoke at the 2022 Portland Book Festival. Kate Beaton has been traveling on her book tour with a friend from back home. Peter MacInnis is a teacher, a farmer, a fisherman and a musician. Given that Cape Breton culture features prominently in “Ducks,” we started our conversation with a song from Peter.

Peter MacInnis [singing over guitar music]: I still get up before the day breaks.

I still walk on down to the shore.

I watch that sun rising over the eastern ocean,

But don’t say it’s needed anymore.

How could they let this happen?

We saw it coming years ago.

Greedy ships just kept getting bigger and bigger, and the

Sonar told them where to go.

Last night dreamed that I was sailing

On the Sea of Galilee.

We cast our nets upon the water.

Jesus pulled them in with me.

Where am I gonna go now?

What about this boat I own?

What about this old piano?

What about my father’s bones?

Last night I dreamed that I sailing

On the Sea of Galilee.

We cast our nets upon the water.

Jesus pulled them in with me.

Someone sang an old sea shanty.

Nealy told a mainland joke.

Kelly cursed and swore till his voice gave out.

Then he asked me for a smoke.

Then he took his father’s shotgun.

Walked to the harbor through the town.

Fired 14 shots, woke everyone up.

And we all watched that boat going down.

Last night I dreamed that I was sailing

On the Sea of Galilee.

We cast our nets upon the water.

Jesus pulled them in with me.

Last night I dreamed that I sailing

On the Sea of Galilee.

We cast our nets upon the water.

Jesus pulled them in with me.

I still get up before the day breaks.

I still walk on down to the shore.

I watch that sun rising over the eastern ocean,

But don’t say it’s needed anymore.

[Song ends]

Miller: Why did you want to start with that song?

Kate Beaton: For me, for anyone from the Atlantic provinces, these songs have been a part of our culture for my entire life. We all tell ourselves stories about who we are before we know who we are. And I grew up with these songs that told me who I was before I knew who I was. And a lot of them were about labor. They were about leaving for work.

I remember listening to that song on the school bus on the radio. Lennie Gallant is the name of the local artist, he was from PEI (Prince Edward Island). It was a song that came out in the mid 90s when I was still in elementary school. So I’d be riding on the bus and listening to this song talking about the collapse of the fishery, and how you can’t go fishing anymore, and how you have to leave your livelihood.

Miller: So much of the early book, and that song, is about leaving Cape Breton. What does Cape Breton look like? What does it smell like? The place that you left, what is it?

Beaton: It’s an island. Cape Breton is an island on the Atlantic coast of Canada in the province of Nova Scotia. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a beautiful island. It’s very rural. I am from the west coast, which is the more rural part of it. There is the industrial side that had leaned heavily on industries of coal and steel for many generations. And on our side, you found more farming and fishing. It’s a very tourist heavy island because of the scenery, and because of how much fiddling we do. But that’s a seasonal industry.

It’s Mi’kmaw land. It’s unceded Mi’kmaw territory. That’s an important point to make. It’s also a place that has been a have-not area of a have-not province for many generations. We have exported labor there for over 100 years.

Miller: How long have members of your family been leaving Cape Breton to find work?

Beaton: Since the late 1800s, you find stories of family members leaving for places. You always hear of grandpa’s uncles going to the Black Hills of Montana for work, the mines there. And we do have letters from places like that, from mines. We have a letter from 1904 from I think Colorado saying “This was once a good mining camp, but it’s going down fast. I would like to return to Mabou before I die.” He doesn’t. So this sense of leaving and longing to return is very ingrained in the generations of people from where I’m from.

Miller: Economic migration, which is what we’re talking about, people who cannot find or make a future where they are so they have to find jobs elsewhere, that obviously is not unique to Cape Breton. But I’m wondering what is, culturally, in terms of the way that fact has filtered itself into your lives there?

Beaton: Well, people leave lots of places for work, it’s true. But I’m not sure how many other places build their entire sense of identity around this sense of leaving in their value of themselves, which is so ingrained in us.

Miller: How does being told that you’re gonna leave, your father, your grandfather, your uncle, they left, how does that affect the way you think about your value in the world, or the place where you’re from, its value in the world?

Beaton: When you export labor for generation after generation, eventually you do internalize the idea that what you have and who you are is not good enough, and what work you can get somewhere else and however they treat you is good, no matter what it is, as long as it’s a job. And when you are in a place that is a working class industrial, where companies hold a lot of power, even if you do have a history of protest and resistance, it becomes very clear over time how much power these companies hold. And I’ve said before, I really believe that in a lot of places certain working class people are part of the environment that is brutalized by corporations, in pursuit of money. And for places that export labor, they just become part of the pattern. And it’s seen as an inevitability too, that you export the labor, and it’s a good thing. You go where the jobs are, you’re fortunate just to have the money.

I never thought anything of going to Fort McMurray when I left, because we were supposed to go to get a job where the jobs were, because where we were, where we lived, everything was imploding. The coal mines were closing, the steel factories were closing, the pulp mill was closing down. The rest of the country (and you have your analogs here in the States), areas of economic decline, where the rest of the country is looking at places that they say “well, these industries are all dead. So stop giving them handouts. You guys should just leave and go where the work is, and pull yourselves up.” You’re seen as sort of a problem. You do internalize the way that people look at you. And so you leave. You go where the work is. A job is a job. I left. Everybody was leaving. And that’s the way it had been for a long time.

Miller: You left, as you write in the book, specifically to pay off student loans from going to university. How much did you know about the oil sands before you left?

Beaton: Almost nothing. Nobody really talked about the oil sands. It wasn’t really part of a big conversation at that time. We’re very invested in climate change right now, but in 2005, it really wasn’t part of a larger conversation that we were having. It was very nascent. We were not talking the way we are now. This is before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada. We weren’t talking about the recognition of colonial damage, environmental racism, things like that. When I was graduating university in 2005, people were talking about Hurricane Katrina, they were talking about the war in Darfur, they were talking about Kanye West like we’re still talking about Kanye West. But they weren’t really talking about the oil sands. And even where I’m from, where people went to get a job, they would call it things like “money jail.” You weren’t going to go there and have a good time.

Miller: Money jail. That was the phrase you’ve heard? That’s what you were heading to?

Beaton: Yeah. People were like “we have to go to money jail to feed our family.”

Miller: I mean I can imagine people using that to describe a lot of jobs, but I guess I haven’t heard that phrase before, and it seems in some ways specific to the world you were going to.

Beaton: It gave the impression that you were going to go to this place that was not going to be nice. Especially the world of the work camps, where the rotations are something like 14 and 7, or 21 and 8.

Miller: Meaning 21 days on 8 days off.

Beaton: Yes. And even if you were 14 and 7, the seven days off, two of those days would be traveling, or more if the weather was bad. And the shifts were like 12 hours. It was a lot of work. And the person that you are disappears when you’re working, because you’re only there for work. And any other thing that makes you who you are, your hobbies, your interests, all of that stuff just disappears. You’re resocialized in this camp environment that takes away, and only values certain things about you. And you are not connected to other human beings in your life, your family, your friends, your community. The community is not there. People do liken it to jails.

Some people are fine. Other people are not fine. And it becomes very apparent.

Miller: Let’s listen to another song, this one about departure, about what we’re talking about. It’s called “Heading for Halifax,” and Peter McInnis again is our musician.

MacInnis [singing over guitar music]: Late spring the leaves have turned green,

And there’s sheep on the hill side, there’s birds on the wing.

And over my shoulder the last time I’m seeing,

The old home all weathered and grey.

We talked till three, my father and me,

And the fiddle tunes flowed like the clear Margaree.

“Never forget who you are, son”, said he

As I followed my brothers away.

And I’m heading for Halifax to see what’s to spare,

In the way of some work and if there’s nothing there,

Well it’s Toronto, out west, to God only knows where,

But there’s bound to be friends from back home.

One thing I know, it’s wherever I go,

My heart’s in Cape Breton it will always be so.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

Whenever a fiddler rosens the bow,

My first and last thoughts are of home.

But I’m heading for Halifax to see what’s to spare,

In the way of some work and if there’s nothing there,

Well it’s Toronto, out west, to God only knows where,

But there’s bound to be friends from back home.

‘Cause one thing I know, it’s wherever I go,

My heart’s in Cape Breton it will always be so.

Whenever a fiddler rosens the bow,

My first and last thoughts are of home.

[Song ends]

Miller: One of the lines there is “there’s bound to be friends from back home.” That was true for you in the camp, and it seems like it was true for everybody wherever they came from. For the non-Canadians among us in the audience, can you describe the kinds of regional factions, or ties that developed in these camps?

Beaton: Yes, sure. It’s such a complicated thing, because you show up in those camps, and they can be very dehumanizing. Like I said, extremely punishing hours and schedules. And the way that they’re isolated and cut off from society, it’s brutal. It takes away your sense of self. And when you come back into regular society, I felt completely apart. You felt like you had to function like a regular human again.

Miller: You had to learn how to do that?

Beaton: Yeah, I remember being in a bar with a drink, and being like “I don’t know how to talk.”

I didn’t know how to talk to people like a regular person.

I was in this big meal hall sort of keeping my head down and trying to eat, and then my cousin sat down beside me, he’s like “Hi!” And I was like “Oh my God Angus, hi! Dad told me you might be here.” And he described his job to me, and I was like “Jesus!” Oh, oh my God, sorry [laughing].

Miller: You can say that word [laughing]. There are words you can’t say. That’s fine.

Beaton: His job was crazy, it sounded like it was extremely physical and bad, and he does have a really bad back problem now. But he was there! I didn’t even know he was there, and he just popped out of nowhere, my first cousin.

And then I was working where I worked, in the tool crib, which is like a mobile supply site for the tradespeople. And somebody who worked for a different company showed up. And I was like “oh you must be in the wrong place.” And he’s like “no, I’m in the right place.” And I was like “I know that accent. That’s from my side of the island, specifically.” Because you know. People coming up to you, if they’re from Atlantic Canada, your ears entune. It’s like “ding!” you’re from Halifax, or you’re from this part, or that part.

Miller: What was it like to hear that accent?

Beaton: It felt like [gasps]. Because people would be coming up, and you felt you were in a real soup of people. And they were from all over Canada really. You could immediately track somebody from Alberta, somebody from BC. And there were a lot of people from the UK, the North Sea Oil guys and you couldn’t understand those guys at all. And a lot of Filipino workers. There’s people from all over the place. Rarely anybody from the States, actually. One guy from Colorado, his name was Colorado [laughing]. Really imaginative . . .

But then you hear that voice. He’s like “I’m just here to check on you. I heard that Neil’s daughter was here, and I want to see how you’re doing and how you’re getting along.” And I was like “I’m doing good, I’m doing good, it’s great to hear.” And his daughter was in my class. And I’m still great friends with him.

There’s so much harassment in the book, because of course men outnumber women immensely.

Miller: You write 50 to 1.

Beaton: I do, but sometimes it was 10 to 1, it depended on where you were. I heard a story before I came here from my little sister’s friend, she went out there as well. This is a nicer story to mitigate some of those. Because of course, harassment was everywhere. My little sister’s friend went out there, and she was a young girl at that time, she was like 20. And so did her old bus driver. He’s quit bus driving, and he’s gonna make the big money out west. And so he went out there, and he was on the same side as her, and the guys around them were like “did you see the new girl?” He’s like “that’s my niece!” And she’s not his niece. He was like “it was the first thing I could think of to say so that they’d shut up around me.” But now he writes her Christmas cards every year: “From your favorite uncle.”

Miller: I mean you preface that by saying this is like a happy story [laughing].

Beaton: I know, it’s not. But when you’re there you take what you can get.

But also it is funny because he’s like “I’m gonna step in here and do what I can to make sure these guys leave her alone, especially around me.”

Miller: It’s some version of protection, similar to the pressure to pair up, to find a boyfriend, which people told you.

Beaton: Yeah they did. And when I did date somebody, they did back off which was just gross. It was weirdly true. And people have told me the same thing about working in tree planting. It’s not unique to the oil industry. Somebody wrote me a letter and they were like “this book gives me PTSD from my time working at Home Depot.” Home Depot? Oh no, where’s society headed?

Miller: How were you affected by the daily accumulation of harassment and misogyny in a place that you couldn’t get away from?

Beaton: It was chip-chipping away. It made you smaller and smaller. And you think in your dreams it would happen and you’d be like “No!” You would puff up and have an amazing comeback, and give as good as you got. But you wouldn’t. Sometimes you would say something because you didn’t care anymore. But most of the time, the remarks and things were so small and so innocuous that it just rolled off of you or you absorbed it And you became very inured to the danger that you were in, because it just happened all the time. And there was no point in saying anything.

At one point I do go up to my boss. I’m called in, and he’s like “I heard you complained about something. This is a man’s world, what did you expect?” And I was young, I was 22. So of course I wanted to acquiesce. I was like “It’ll never happen again. I’ll never complain again. I don’t want special treatment.”

Miller: “Special treatment” meant being treated… I’m struggling to even get the words out because it’s such an absurdity.

Beaton: “Special treatment” meant being given preferential treatment. Like “I don’t want to work there because I don’t like the way that people talk to me.” Companies say that they have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, which just means they have to fire like 90% of the people. It’s complete fabrication. And even now you go to Shell’s website for the oil sands, and half the pictures are smiling women, smiling people of color and you’re like “Mhm, okay. That’s a good one.”

They’re very interested in the image of being a good place to work and all that stuff. And it went down into everything. In the book, I make a point of all the millions of man hours without a lost day incident. So if anybody did get injured, they would just put them behind a desk. “Oh, you broke your arm? Then you can just sit on this log for a day instead of having to lose a day of work, so that we can keep our 400 million man hours without an incident.” And then somebody died on site. I think that after somebody died on site, they kept their millions of man hours going because he was a contractor that worked for a different company.

And of course there was zero talk of mental health at the time that I was there, 2005 to 2008. I think it’s getting better right now.

Miller: What was the culture of drug use and drug abuse when you were?

Beaton: It was everywhere. And I was extremely naive about it. I didn’t see it anywhere. I didn’t know how to look for it. I didn’t have to look for the signs. I didn’t know anything about it. So even after I left, even when I was making the book, I would ask people “you remember this coworker?” And they’re like “He was on Percocet, and then he would take cocaine.” I was like “He did?” And they were like “Yes, didn’t you have eyeballs?” I felt like a little baby even when I was making my own book about this, because I just couldn’t see the signs. But people would be erratic. And it was so easy, because it was available everywhere.

The mental health discussions weren’t there. And if there was a personal crisis in their life- which often was because you were so cut off from society, your families. The divorce rate in the camps was very high. It took a real toll on families to be so far away to be so cut off. If you talk to any school teachers who dealt with the children of parents who went on these, you know who the kids are.

Miller: The children left behind.

Beaton: Yes. You know when the dad comes home, you know when he leaves. It shows. You see the toll that this work lifestyle takes on people. And some of these are people that had no other choice but to go and work like this. But it’s hard on people.

Miller: The picture you and portray, specifically about about mainly men, fathers-

Beaton: Sometimes it was mothers. But often fathers.

Miller: The picture that you present is that, because they were away for so long, when they go back to their families it wasn’t like that would magically make things better. That being away and being back were both problematic.

Beaton: They were, because often the mother had things in hand when the father was away, and then when he gets back he upsets the apple cart. Or he’d come back and it would be euphoria, but then they would leave everything that they had to fight about money and things until the last day that he was there. And so then they would leave on a sour note. It’s just a very difficult thing to manage. And some people do manage it well. But it’s just hard, and you can imagine how hard it is. And that separation is hard on the children.

We’re talking in generalities because we only have a few minutes. It’s so difficult to talk about this fairly for everybody because people will be listening and be like “I was fine!” And good for you, you were fine. And other men can handle that lifestyle and be fine. I have cousins who went through it, they’re fine. We have other cousins who went through it, they’re not fine.

Miller: The ones who were fine, whether they’re your cousins or other people who’ve got in touch with you, do they complain about the portrait that you have presented?

Beaton: No. There are people in the book who are fine too. But the reality is that it’s a gigantic industry that employs so many people, and it’s so very little studied? It’s so very little talked about. It’s an industry that’s so polarizing. And in Atlantic Canada, where it has a massive effect on all of us because so many people have gone out there to work, and to have it so little studied and even so little talked about in a way- because even though we have exported labor for generations, this camp environment thing, this is newer. And reliance on this camp money for so long in Fort McMurray, that was a newer thing as well.

To make the book, all I could use were my own memories of that time. There are two Kate Beatons. There’s myself in the book who’s young and can only talk to you about 2005 to 2008. And then there’s myself, the author here, who’s 39, who has thought a lot more about things.

Miller: Well I’m glad you mentioned that split. You had said earlier that people make fun of you for what you described as your naivete, your lack of awareness of, in that case, drugs. But how much had you processed the traumas that you’ve experienced over the course of these years before you started working on this book?

Beaton: Well I’ve seen lots of therapists. Many therapists.

It’s funny because there’s always something new to take from it. The thing is, there is sexual violence in the book. And yet, it’s such a common thing. It’s so… it’s so common. I had the choice to put it in or not. And if I left it out, then it wouldn’t be the truth. I could have spared myself a conversation on the stage in front of a lot of people, but it wouldn’t be the truth.

It’s funny that you don’t see that much conversation about it in relation to the oil sands. When you have such a heavily imbalanced workforce, and especially when you have things like these work camps that are situated among indigenous communities. We all know that these are vulnerable populations, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s report tells us that. It’s a very Canadian thing to look the other way.

Miller: How much did you talk about what life in the camps was like with your sister before she came?

Beaton: I think I was in a bit of denial myself before then. Again, when you’re in the middle of it, when you are in that environment yourself and you are being harassed, you minimize it, you compartmentalize it. I told her. I was like “It’s pretty bad.” And she’s like “I’m a waitress in Halifax at the bars. I can handle this.” And I was like yeah, that’s true. She was a waitress at some of the bars where the dress code was “wear this small skirt and let men slap you when you walk by.” So she’s like “I can handle it.” And then she got there and she was like “this place sucks.”

I don’t think that you truly understand the extent of what you’re looking at until you’re there, until you’re in that environment. And no amount of “this is really bad” does it justice until you’re there. And that’s part of the reason to make the book as well. I really wanted to drop readers in, who’ve never been in an environment where they have been extremely vulnerable like that. You’re put in through the eyes of the character that is me. I had no idea. I didn’t know what to do with myself. When you walk in for the first time in your life, and you’re surrounded by this kind of attention and people talking to you, I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know what to say. We weren’t socialized to know what to do with that kind of attention. It wasn’t flattering attention. It wasn’t wasn’t even personal, it was extremely impersonal. It didn’t mean anything. It was just people grasping around you, like thin air. You’re a vague shape, a woman shape. It didn’t even matter if you had a name. They’d be like “Nancy! Your brown hair and woman shape. I like that.”

Miller: There’s a scene when you and your sister are talking about these issues when she’s there, and you have this really profound question that you don’t really have answers to. You basically ask “if our dad were here, or the men that we know and trust from back home, what would they be like?” What was behind those questions?

Beaton: It’s a scary question. Nobody goes out to a place like that thinking “I’m going to destroy myself. I’m gonna become a *beep*. I’m gonna be a complete *beep*.

Miller: It’s amazing that “Jesus” is a problem in your mind [laughing]. Luckily we can beep everything out. Maybe Canada is just different than the US [laughing].

Beaton: I forgot!

Miller: It’s okay.

Beaton: I have had a potty mouth since I left the oil sands.

Miller: Is that one of the things you brought back with you?

Beaton: It is. Anecdotally, other people say the same thing. Everybody out there is just like “eff eff eff eff eff.” And then I left, and I was like “eff eff eff eff eff.”

Anyway, to go back to the important question, because it is an important question. People just go out there for jobs. But then you are resocialized in this place that is toxic masculinity. And that’s what we call it. Even though people debate the validity of that term or whatever, it’s like a triggering word or term. But that’s what it is.

The image that you have in places like that is of these men, they’re bad, and they drive around in the big trucks and we don’t like them. Whether that’s a fair image or not, a lot of fathers go out there, and when they come home they’re still dads, they’re still they’re still husbands. When you come out there and you get hit on by a lot of dads you’re like “what’s going on here? I don’t like it.” And you see a lot of people who go out there and fall into the mental health traps set there, from isolation, from loneliness, from this toxic culture. And the drugs are waiting, and the alcohol is waiting. You hear stories from workers, and they’re like “I became a person I didn’t like.”

It’s easy to write everybody off as just terrible. But that’s too simple. You can’t do that. They’re human beings. I didn’t like what I saw. But I was also living with people who were people. I didn’t like the way people talked to me. But when the price of oil dropped in Alberta a few years later, really dropped and there were massive layoffs, suicides went up. There are real repercussions to this kind of culture.

You’re seeing people go out there that look like your family, your brothers, your cousins, your uncles. And there really were my cousins and my neighbors. And you wonder about the ones that you love. There’s a scene where I get a call from somebody from Toronto, she’s from sort of a prestigious publication, and she wants to write a story about the oil sands. And her questions are already loaded. She’s like “How disgusting is it? How do people treat you? What was the worst thing someone said to you?” She had her thesis all ready, it was just going to be the rampant sexism and the disgusting people. And I felt very exploited by the questions. And I felt defensive of these people who had said disgusting things to me, and treated me badly. I said in the book to my friend, because I said it in real life, people like her think that the men that they love would not be affected by the loneliness, by the culture, by the toxicity. They think that the people that they care about would not be affected by this. And they would. It’s a sad thought. It’s very sad. It shouldn’t make you angry and it shouldn’t make you toss people into a garbage can. It should make you want to change the culture.

Miller: I want to go back to the beginning, and the messages that that you got, and that so many people got in different parts of Eastern Canada and Cape Breton in particular, that you had to go away to make a life, and there was a good chance that when you did that to find a job to make money to survive that you wouldn’t go back home, go back to a place that means so much to you. But you have been able to go home. What does that mean to you?

Beaton: It means a lot. I’m there for my parents as they get older, and my uncles who are there. I can’t imagine being far away from it right now as all of this is happening. I lived far away for a long time. And to be there now where I feel the most like myself. I lived in Toronto and I lived in New York and I lived in different places and I loved those places. But when I am home, I feel the most like myself. And that feels like a real gift. I feel like I’m part of the picture, like I’m in the painting.

But at the same time, my sister is in Edmonton. My cousins are in Edmonton. There’s a lot of people that I grew up with there. They’re in the west still. They come home in the summertime, you see them. This migration is still very much a part of things. It’s in our lives.

Miller: What message do you intentionally give to your kids about their home and their futures?

Beaton: It’s hard to say. They’re three and one, so they’re babies.

Miller: But that could play that song we started with, “Peter’s Dream,” to a three year old. They could soak up the songs and messages that you soaked up.

Beaton: Yeah, definitely. They will hear all of those songs as well. But they will know that they have choices in a way that we didn’t. We were told that the doors over there, the exit is over there, and you have to go through it. And we were also made to feel in a lot of ways that a job is a good job.

Miller: You mean if you’re getting money, it is by definition a good job.

Beaton: Yes. And that corporations hold power in a way that you can’t do anything about. Even though, like I said, Cape Breton has a long history of protest, it seemed that in the end, the companies always seem to win. And so I never challenged things when I was younger. But I think we’re in a place right now, all of us, where we are challenging things. We see that these things are all facades, and we don’t want to give corporations power over our lives, and we want to knock those walls down. And that is something that I want my kids to know.

Miller: Kate Beaton, thanks very much.

Beaton: Thank you.

[Audience clapping]

Miller: We’re going to go out with one more song from Peter MacInnis. It’s in memory of Father Angus MacDonnell.

[Guitar music]

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