RCMP violence against Indigenous land defenders and settler allies at Fairy Creek old-growth forest blockades

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo still from Sii-am Hamilton’s Instagram post.

On August 21, Stó:lō and Nuučaan̓uuɫɁatḥ land defender Sii-am Hamilton posted: “The RCMP ripped hair out of [T’Sou-ke land defender Kati George-Jim] head when they dragged her body across the pavement.”

“This police officer proceeded to climb on top of her body and bang her head against the pavement. Without question the most brutal arrest I’ve witnessed to date at the blockade. Her hair was literally on the road after her body was dragged away.”

Hamilton comments: “This is Canada. This is the legacy Canadians inherit. Violence is at the heart of the settler state.”

An anonymous email to Victoria Buzz also states: “There have been reports of sexual assaults by RCMP, continued media suppression and repeated targeting and mistreatment of Indigenous women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ and 2 spirit land defenders.”

Jessy Bokser has also commented that the RCMP are “aggressively pushing forward and aggressively extracting people.” She adds: “Just total disrespect — very physically, aggressively grabbing people that are sitting calmly on the road.”

And Shiloh Underwood of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation says: “The force that’s been used within the last few weeks has been unprecedented.” While she suffered a broken foot while being arrested last week she adds: “This is our last chance to protect our ancestral homeland and I can’t just leave.”

Fairy Creek watershed defence

This is occurring at the Fairy Creek blockades to protect old-growth forests on Pacheedaht and Dididaht territories on Vancouver Island.

Forest defenders have had eight blockades in the area since August 2020.

On April 1, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven granted logging company Teal-Jones an injunction that prohibits roadblocks at the various entry points to the Fairy Creek watershed. The RCMP began enforcing the injunction on May 17.

By June 4, more than 170 people had been arrested.

Now, as of August 21, at least 740 people have been arrested (56 of whom have been previously arrested at the blockades).

Court ruling against the RCMP

The RCMP began to enforce an “exclusion zone” prohibiting journalists from the area in May when the arrests began.

On July 20, BC Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson ruled: “The RCMP do not have legal authority for these actions. The actions are unlawful.”

Journalist Justin Brake has cautioned: “As part of their effort to block journalists from documenting their activities at Fairy Creek in recent months, officers held up blue tarps around land defenders whom they were arresting. Expect more of that.”

Brake also comments: “We should not be under any illusion that police are impartial actors, or that they serve in the interest of all people’s safety and well-being. They enforce laws that were created to assimilate and dispossess Indigenous peoples from their lands as part of Canada’s settler colonial project.”

Legal Fund

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 $122,000.

Brandi Morin tweet quoting Indigenous land defender Kati George-Jim, June 3.

Siiam Hamilton Facebook post.


Earthly Pursuits Twitter video.

Video: RCMP Pepper Spray land defenders trying to save the Old Growth Forest (August 21, 2021).

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