Blockades and support is growing after the conservation group called the Rainforest Flying Squad was ordered by the B.C. courts that a logging company has access to an area known as Fairy Creek.
On April 6, the forestry company Teal-Jones served an injunction to multiple logging protest camps near Port Renfrew, B.C.
The blockades were set up by the Rainforest Flying Squad. Some have been active since August 2020 protesting Teal Jones logging in the Fairy Creek area.
On April 1, the B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction for the company to get access to the old growth forest.
One of the protest leaders, Pacheedaht Elder William Jones, said this injunction has strengthened their movement.
“It only empowers the protests, it will spread, and it’s by our dedication and commitment to our caring for our Great Mother that other people are seeing it, and now the Caycuse protest has opened up ,” he said in an interview with APTN News. “ I think they’re others and there is certainly a lot of people openly supporting.”
Shawna Knight has lived on Vancouver Island for years. She is a part of the Rainforest Flying Squad and said support comes from people with a wide range of reasons who don’t want to see the old-growth logged in Fairy Creek.
“It’s a very unique place to be in an old-growth forest, there isn’t anywhere else in the world that has the same feeling and quiet and calm as an old-growth forest,” she said.
Teal Jones is the largest privately owned company operating on the West Coast of Canada.
A company spokesperson said their plans for logging Fairy Creek have been mischaracterized.
“Most of the watershed is protected forest reserve or unstable terrain, and not available for harvesting. We are planning to harvest only a small area, up at the head of the watershed well away from Fairy Lake and the San Juan River, “ Teal-Jones said in a statement. “We will harvest with the care and attention to the environment British Columbians expect and mill every log we cut right here in B.C. “
They said the timber in the areas that have blockades is essential for local jobs.
“The timber in these areas is vital to sustaining Teal-Jones’ operations, supporting hundreds of jobs and the creation of wood products we all rely on every day,” Teal-Jones said.
The company did not identify their next steps of action.
“The judge was clear in his decision that blockades impeding our access to the area are illegal.,” the statement said.” “We are not in a position to get into next steps at this time, other than to say it is time for our work to get underway. “
The Rainforest Flying Squad said it plans to continue their protest because this is the last intact watershed on Southern Vancouver Island.
William Jones remembers being a child playing with other children near Fairy Lake with his mother cooking fish on the fire.
“Then industrial logging started about then; where they had the modern equipment. That was the end of Fairy Lake Sockeye fishing, about 1948. I think Mom said that was the last time we got a good run from Fairy Lake system,” he said.
Since the injunction last week, new protest sites long logging roads near Caycuse watershed have started in hopes to protect old-growth forests.
“That’s it, when that’s gone along with Eden Grove, Walbran and Caycuse will be it the South Island,” William Jones said.
Last September, the B.C. government released “The Old Growth Report” and acted on four of the fourteen recommendations in the report.
“We took immediate action on four of the recommendations and committed to implementing all 14. Our commitment to this important work has not changed, “ said BC Minister for Forest, Lands and Natural Resources Katrine Conroy in an email responds to APTN.
Conroy addressed the protest’s frustration but pointed to the recent court decision granting Teal-Jones access to the lot.
“We recognize the right for people to engage in peaceful protest and we also expect all British Columbians to follow the law and respect court decisions,” she said.
“We want to make sure people can appreciate old-growth trees for years to come while supporting a sustainable forest sector for workers and communities.”
The injunction papers have been served to protestors but there are social media calls on social media for more people to join their fight for old-growth on Vancouver Island.
The Rainforest Flying Squad said in the eight months they have been protesting, nobody from the BC Government has spoken with them, including the B.C. premier.
“This is John Horgan’s riding, Port Renfrew here is his constituency, so I have seen him in Port Renfrew, but he hasn’t been to the protests, “ said Shawna Knight.