The Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), having once attracted a diverse population from around the globe, still struggles to recover from the collapse of the industry that fueled its growth. This industry contributed to Canada’s highest rates of cancer and other chronic illness when it created one of the worst environmental disasters in North America. Yet the departure of the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation triggered an economic disaster as well, fracturing the CBRM’s vibrant social mosaic and tempting some to dream of its return. To visit the CBRM today is to witness the result of hundreds of million dollars in remediation, and the city stands as a testament to the strength of its people. Yet beneath the earth lies a parallel city, an underworld of dreams, a bringer of prosperity and of death.
There are unsteady boundaries between nature and culture, the landscape and its people. When dominion over nature becomes oppression of the human body and soul, the key to both social and environmental resilience may be turned by the same hand.