Skip to content

ALONG THE FRASER: Three days at Fairy Creek logging blockade

First of three columns from an Maple Ridge environmentalist visiting the Vancouver Island site
Maple Ridge’s Jack Emberly was at Fairy Creek to see first hand what’s happening in the efforts to halt logging of the old-growth forest. (Jack Emberly/Special to The News)

by Jack Emberly/Special to The News

“There’s something happening here

But what it is ain’t exactly clear…”

Buffalo Springfield’s

For What It’s Worth

The song was associated with the Vietnam anti-war movement in 1966.

I’m reminded of it by the Fairy Creek Blockade, a year-long act of civil disobedience near Port Renfrew to halt logging of the last old-growth forest on Vancouver Island.

In 1993, RCMP arrested 1,000 people for a similar movement during the ‘war of the woods’ at Clayoquot Sound.

At Fairy Creek, (Ada’itsx), in Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory, the number could soon exceed that and confrontations are getting more violent.

RELATED: Forest company, RCMP, old-growth defenders due in court this month for 4 hearings

READ MORE: 2 arrested at Vancouver protest against old-growth logging

I have questions that require my being there.

In July, a judge ruled police restrictions of media movement is “unlawful,” and that confining reporters to broad “exclusion zones” prevents them from witnessing arrests.

A month later would I be able to get close enough to barricades to see and hear what was happening?

I wanted to know more about the protest “supporters,” people from all walks of life who have to bring everything with them to sustain life in this wilderness; sleep in tents or vehicles, sometimes for weeks.

They’re here for the trees, but are there other reasons I don’t understand yet? A lot of things aren’t ‘perfectly clear’ to me.

At Lake Cowichan, I know I’m near but need direction. At a gas station, I ask two men wearing police liaison officer T-shirts. “I’m with media,” I say. One says, “have fun” and points me in the wrong direction.

The second corrects him. He’ll apologize to me for the ‘confusion’ next day.

MORE: Ongoing protest over old-growth logging on Vancouver Island marks one year

RELATED: RCMP watchdog gets more than 70 enforcement complaints from Fairy Creek blockades

As dusk approaches, a line of police vehicles slip pass me, towards Lake Cowichan. Tomorrow, I’ll ask an RCMP officer how many were at Fairy Creek that day. He’ll guess “40 to 50,” as helicopters and drones fly overhead, and several all-terrain-vehicles rest on the road side.

After police with chainsaws dismantle the barrier protesters built across the road up ahead – logs, a car sunk into a trench – ATVs will be used by ‘special operations officers’ (Canada’s SWAT unit) to reach protesters – some in trees – at River Camp two kilometres further up.

What will all this cost over a year and more? Is it money well spent? Questions like this will have to be addressed later by others – maybe during this latest election. All I know is that they should be.

There are several camps. The first night, I park at one dubbed R&R, before the sun goes down. When I introduce myself as media, people thank me for coming. A middle-aged man who owns a solar panel business says I’ll get a cup of coffee at the ‘kitchen.’ I do before slipping into the sleeping bag in my car. It’s pitch black at night here.

I’m sure the only sound anyone heard was my snoring.

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist

• Stay tuned for the next instalment in the next edition…


Is there more to the story? Email:
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.