Solidarity builds for Indigenous claims over Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island

Save Fairy Creek supporters sport red to the May 29 Elders circle gathering to show solidarity with Indigenous People. (Nora O’Malley photo)Save Fairy Creek supporters sport red to the May 29 Elders circle gathering to show solidarity with Indigenous People. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Disputes over a block of Crown land known as Tree Forest Licence 46, located between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht First Nations territory, erupted on May 29 as more than 2,000 Save Fairy Creek supporters made the journey to the Fairy Creek HQ.

With temperatures pushing upwards of 28C, supporters wore red to show solidarity with Indigenous People and carried signs reading: ‘Respect your Elders, they are our lifeblood’ and ‘Trees for our children’s children’.

Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones says his Nation is split: half want to reclaim TFL 46 and save the old growth while the other half want to uphold a Revenue Sharing Agreement Pacheedaht First Nation holds with the Province of British Columbia signed in October 2020 by elected Chief Jeff Jones. Under the agreement, the First Nation receives a percentage of the stumpage revenues from all timber cut by tenure holders like Teal Jones.

Bill Jones would rather see TFL 46 turned into a memorial park.

“We now must give a gesture to our Great Mother by saying no. The whole world is being run on a colonist extraction economy and it’s at the end of its “sucking” I call it. There are no resources left. I think we are trying to save the last remnants of our own sensitivities. Once the old growth is gone, there is no connection to our historic past,” he said.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said the province has already acted and protected thousands of hectares of old growth. There are approximately 13.7 million hectares of old growth forest in B.C.

Ten million hectares of these old growth forests are currently protected or not economical to harvest.

“I understand that how old growth forests are managed is an emotional, divisive, and complex issue. B.C.’s beautiful ancient forests are part of what makes our province a great place to live and we owe it to future generations to protect them. We recognize the right for people to engage in peaceful protest, but we also expect all British Columbians to follow the law,” said Conroy in an email.

“There is a better way for B.C. to manage old growth forests and our government will work collaboratively with all our partners to do this. We know there is much more work to do and we are committed to a comprehensive approach for how old growth forests are managed in our province,” she said.

Yogi Shambu has been helping the Rainforest Flying Squad (RFS) since August 2020 when their blockades were first set up. Shambu, a former forest worker for a small wood lot, stressed the fact that the RFS is pro-logger and pro-old growth.

“We want conversation with the industry. We do not want to polarize ourselves away. We want to find a solution for everyone. We do not want homeless loggers so please reach out,” he said, adding transitional government funding is needed to help the forestry industry orient their second and third growth forests.

“We know that the old growth is only going to be lasting another five to at the very most 10 years, so we are already in the evening of the whole industry, so how do we now lean into transitioning away from that?”

Gerrie Kotze, Teal Jones Vice-President and CFO, said the company continues to engage in constructive dialogue and acknowledge the Ancestral Territories of all First Nations that encompass the Tree Farm Licence, including the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations.

“In addition, we will abide by the interim conservation measure referenced by the Pacheedaht First Nation in their recent media release, pending the development of their Integrated Resource Forest Stewardship Plan,” wrote Kotze in an email.

He went on to note that TFL 46 is vital to sustaining hundreds of jobs in the province and produces products British Columbians rely on every day.

“We will mill and utilize 100 percent of every log cut right here in B.C. Teal Jones has a decades-long history of engagement with First Nations, responsible forest management, and value-added manufacture in B.C.,” said Kotze.

RELATED: RCMP arrest all but one at Waterfall blockade, protesters take it back next day



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

VIDEO: Vancouver Island loggers rally against Fairy Creek blockades

READ: Collective vision needed, forest industry rep tells Cowichan officials

First Nationsforestry

Just Posted

Grant De Patie. (The News files)
Virtual sit-in in memory of Maple Ridge gas attendant killed in 2005

Protest for stronger safety protections for late-night workers

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows does not need new RCMP detachment

Local resident says the price tag is too much

Maple Ridge author Tiffany-Ann Bottcher is one of 21 authors whose real-life stories are featured in the new book Women in Business in a Changing World. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge author shares real-life story to inspire women in business

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher, is a long-time Maple Ridge resident, a full-time business coach and blogger

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. There’s new evidence the Vancouver police were warned about a possible riot days before violence broke out during the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs on June 15. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
Maple Ridge residents share Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot memories

June 15th was 10th anniversary of Canucks Game 7 loss

Maple Ridge's Ron Paley aimed the camera skyward, to the clouds earlier this week, while out for one of his regular bike rides through Pitt Meadows and Mape Ridge. This time, he shared some images he caught while biking to Pitt River Bridge, then north up to the dikes and back around to Laity Street. "Awesome weather for biking… and the cloud formations were unique." (Special to The News)
SHARE: Cyclist stops to admire the clouds

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read