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Exclusive: Docs Blocked by BC NDP Raise Questions about First Nation Statement on Fairy Creek Protests – The Walrus

Dec. 13, 2023

The Pacheedaht First Nation’s statement was an ideological bomb for protesters and their supporters. Was it influenced by the BC government?

In the spring of 2021, all eyes were on Fairy Creek, Vancouver Island. The valley, which contained one of the largest unbroken tracts of old-growth forest in the region, had become a political and ideological flashpoint as protesters had camped out for nearly a year to stop a logging company from cutting the forest.

Local, national, and international news agencies were sending reporters to the blockade; Victoria residents were making the two-hour pilgrimage, laden with donated groceries; and the British Columbia NDP government was ducking pointed questions in the legislature about the protests taking place in then premier John Horgan’s own riding. What had started as an attempt to prevent planned logging on a single mountainside turned into a national discussion about the twilight of rare—and lucrative—old-growth forests. The NDP, which had promised to protect old-growth forests, was on its heels.

On April 1, a provincial court granted an injunction to Teal Cedar Products, a subsidiary of Teal-Jones, the logging company that owned the rights to cut in the Fairy Creek watershed, making it illegal to block or restrict logging activity in the area. “[Interest in the protest] went through the roof,” recalls Torrance Coste, an environmental campaigner with the Vancouver-based Wilderness Committee. Although the RCMP didn’t begin arresting protesters until a month and a half later, the threat of arrest added a pressure to the protests. “There’s huge opposition to old-growth logging across BC—across the country—and people [were] willing to get arrested to send a message to government,” Coste says.

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