Forest protectors continue to defend Fairy Creek, RCMP have now made 494 arrests

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo from Fairy Creek Blockade.

On Saturday July 24, the RCMP arrested another 16 people at the Fairy Creek watershed area on Pacheedaht and Dididaht territories on Vancouver Island bringing the total to 494 arrests since May 17. The forest protectors are there at the invitation of Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones and hereditary Pacheedaht leader Victor Peter.

The Canadian Press reports: “People have been camped out in the Fairy Creek Watershed since last August to defend what they describe as the last unprotected old-growth forest on Southern Vancouver Island. The protesters aim to stop logging company Teal Jones, which holds licences allowing it to log in the watershed.”

In early-June, the British Columbia government announced it would delay logging on 884 hectares of old-growth forest at Fairy Creek for two years.

At that time, the RCMP said it was “aware of deferrals that involve a portion of the currently permitted harvest activity in the injunction area.”

Media exclusion zone, police manipulation

Additionally, a group of news organizations presented initial arguments to a British Columbia judge earlier this month for media access to the area. The Canadian government has opposed the request stating “where enforcement operations require secrecy to be successful, media invitations are not sent.”

On July 21, Justice Douglas Thompson ruled: “I am not satisfied that geographically extensive exclusion zones and associated access checkpoints have been justified as reasonably necessary in order to give the police the space they need.”

Journalist Justin Brake has commented: “The Mounties will seek out new ways to manipulate public perception of the force’s role in the ongoing colonization of Indigenous peoples and their lands. It’s what the Northwest Mounted Police was created to do. It’s what Canada’s police forces have always done.”

Brake wrote that on July 22. By July 25 it was widely reported that the RCMP had stated that the forest protectors had cut down 18 trees for their blockades.

Indigenous sovereignty, colonial coercion

While the elected chief of the Pacheedaht First Nation supports the logging, Elder Jones says that half of the 284-person nation opposes the logging.

Brake notes: “It’s not the fault of First Nations leaders when they take the carrots dangled before them by the very forces that caused their communities’ poverty in the first place. Our attention and scrutiny should be on those doing the harm and dangling the carrots.”

A Defence of Indigenous Land BIPOC fund -Fairy Creek has been established “to support Indigenous land defenders in whatever ways are needed to support their frontline work.” To date, it has raised more than $100,000.

For updates, follow Fairy Creek Blockade here.

Photo by uplift resist.

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