B.C. premier says province will respect First Nations’ decision to put logging in old growth forest on hold

British Columbia Premier John Horgan says his government will respect a decision by Pacheedaht First Nation, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht nations to defer old growth logging for two years in Fairy Creek and Central Walbran while they develop a stewardship plan.

“The first step in protecting old growth forests must be respecting Indigenous land management rights in their territories,” said Horgan in a tweet sent out Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s why we honour and approve the request.”

The nations have asked activists who have set up blockades and are protesting in those areas to allow workers from Teal-Jones to continue their work in other permitted regions.

Teal Jones said the plan was to harvest 20 hectares.

Protest and blockades to protect old growth trees have been active since August of last year.

The blockades are led by an environmental group Rainforest Flying Squad.

Earlier this week, B.C. Premier John Horgan put out statement saying they received the declaration.

“My government has received the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration and deferral request issued earlier today by the Chiefs of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations,” the statement read.

“These Nations are the holders of constitutionally protected Indigenous interests within their traditional territories. It is from this position that the Chiefs have approached us.

He also said they will honour the declaration and move quickly to address it.

“We honour the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration. And we are pleased to enter into respectful discussions with the Nations regarding their request. We understand the request must be addressed expeditiously, and we will ensure a prompt response.”

In April, Teal-Jones received a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to operate in the area and access Tree Forest Licence 46.

In an email statement they told APTN News they would abide by the declaration.

“We will abide by the declaration issued today, and look forward to engaging with the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations as they develop Integrated Resource Forest Stewardship Plans,” the statement said.

The company said they have had good working relationship with many nations around the province.

“Teal Jones acknowledges the ancestral territories of all First Nations on which we operate and is committed to reconciliation,” the statement said. “In recent years Teal Jones has had productive working relationships with 106 First Nations in BC, the specifics of each engagement reflecting the interests of the First Nation.”

On Tuesday, Pacheedaht Elder William Jones, a leader of the group behind the protests to protect old growth said they plan to address the situation after reviewing information.

The RCMP released a statement yesterday that said a total of 194 arrests have been made enforcing the injunction at the continued encampments near Port Renfrew.

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