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Hants County protester rolling to Ottawa to open waterways for fish


Sonja Wood rolls through Shubenacadie en route to Ottawa aboard her electric scooter to call on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to allow free fish passage through causeways. - Aaron Beswick
Sonja Wood rolls through Shubenacadie en route to Ottawa aboard her electric scooter to call on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to allow free fish passage through causeways. - Aaron Beswick

It wasn’t an auspicious breakfast.

But it got them rolling.

“Cheesies and nuts,” Sonja Wood said of the meal she shared with her husband Chris Mansky in Rawdon Goldmines Thursday morning.

The pair had spent the first night of their 1,500-kilometre journey to Ottawa curled up in the trunk of their hatchback. He’d crammed all the other gear – which includes a guitar but not a propane stove – for their journey into the car’s front seats to make room for sleeping.

Her electric scooter spent the night charging by the house of the man who let them sleep on his property.

“Not only did he give us a charge and let us sleep there but he gave me a handshake too and to me that’s gold,” said Wood.

“For a month I tried to get sponsored but all these big corporations aren’t worth a tinkers’ darn.”

Wood, with Mansky behind the wheel of their support vehicle, is driving her electric scooter to Ottawa to demand Fisheries and Oceans Canada use the Fisheries Act to open up fish passage through the causeways and dams blocking many Atlantic Canadian rivers.

As chair of the group Friends of the Avon River she’s been campaigning to open up fish passage through the Windsor causeway for over twenty years.

This campaign has often put her at odds with Windsor Town Council and many residents who want to maintain water levels around Lake Pisiquid, which was created a half century ago when the original causeway was installed across the Avon River.

The new causeway being planned by Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal as part of the Highway 101 twinning project will have some sort of fishway – designs aren’t complete yet – but won’t allow the free flow of water.

“We expect government to start enforcing the Fisheries Act and stop blocking rivers,” said Wood.

When she didn’t get a response from the federal government to a petition with 660 signatures submitted this summer, her and Mansky started planning their trip to Ottawa.

If the gates to the halls of power aren’t opened to her there, those holding the keys should be aware that Wood is persistent.

In 1985 she spent two months walking around Nova Scotia with a sheep dog named Samson telling everyone who would listen about the famine in Ethiopia.

A car accident shortly after she resumed her studies at Acadia University left her confined to a wheelchair.

Undeterred, in 1995 she spent two months riding the province on a hand-powered bicycle spreading the word of Canadian Unity as Quebec prepared for its second referendum on whether to separate.

In 1999 she camped out beside the White Rock overpass near New Minas, where she had nearly died in a car accident, for 19 days as a vigil to campaign for the twinning of Highway 101.

And now she’s riding the Trophy 20 electric scooter she bought second-hand last Friday for the journey to Ottawa.

Her and Mansky, who together have run the Blue Beach Fossil Museum in Hants County since 2002, don’t have a lot of money for the journey.

They’re accepting donations as they go – be it in the form of accommodations, food, cash or even a handshake.

The Trophy 20 can travel about two hours down the backroads they’re taking before needing a charge.

So a bit of electricity is also a welcome donation.

“We’re hoping to outrun it,” said Wood of hurricane Dorian’s path toward Nova Scotia on Saturday.

But that doesn’t seem likely.

Mansky figures he’ll wrap the Trophy 20 in a tarp and they can hole up in the car for the night.

“It is actually pretty fun,” said Mansky.

“Usually I’ve got one foot nailed down to the museum this time of year so we’re enjoying being out on the road and meeting people.”

Wood has been struck by the silence as she rolls along through expanses of field and forest.

“I don’t usually go two hours without talking to someone,” she said.

“So it’s good for me.”

She’ll have plenty to say when she gets to Parliament Hill.

Those wishing to contact Wood and Mansky can email bbfossils@xplornet.com

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