Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

The dispute over blockades aimed at preventing old-growth trees from being logged in Pacheedaht territory on southwest Vancouver Island has revealed divisions within the First Nation’s membership.

A statement issued by two Pacheedaht chiefs this week says they’re “concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities” in the territory, and decisions about forestry must be made by the nation.

But the Rainforest Flying Squad, whose members set up camp last August to block Teal Cedar Products from accessing proposed cutblocks in and around the Fairy Creek watershed, says they’re not planning to leave.

They say in a statement that Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones and other members of the nation welcome the blockades maintained largely by non-Indigenous people calling for an end to old-growth logging in B.C.

The British Columbia Supreme Court granted Teal Cedar, a division of the Teal-Jones Group, an injunction against the blockades earlier this month.

RELATED: Environmental group calls on province to preserve old-growth forests

RELATED: B.C. suspends some old-growth logging, consults communities

Justice Frits Verhoeven’s judgment notes Jones, who was a defendant in the company’s application, says old-growth forests in the Fairy Creek watershed are essential to his culture and religion, and logging would interfere with this constitutional right to religious freedom.

Premier John Horgan said this week the blockaders should respect the request from Pacheedaht leadership to leave the territory and allow the nation time to make its own decisions about forestry and conservation.

The Pacheedaht do not support “unsolicited involvement or interference by others” in their territory, “including third-party activism,” said the statement from elected chief Jeff Jones and hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones.

RELATED: Vancouver Island residents rally to protect old-growth forests

The nation is developing a resource stewardship plan that will identify special sites to guide forestry activities, they said, and tenure holders have agreed to suspend operations within specific areas in the meantime.

However, in a statement out Tuesday, Bill Jones disputed Frank Queesto Jones’s assertion of hereditary leadership and urged people to continue taking direct action to stop old-growth logging in the territory.

The B.C. government granted Teal Cedar permits last year to cut timber within three areas of its nearly 600-square-kilometre tenure that includes the Fairy Creek area. The company was also granted road building permits and it plans to apply for cutting permits in three additional cutblocks.

Pacheedaht First Nation struck a consultation and revenue-sharing deal with the province in 2017, agreeing not to interfere with provincially permitted logging activities, Verhoeven’s judgment said.

The Rainforest Flying Squad is calling on the province to fund economic alternatives for First Nations reliant on logging that affects old-growth forests.

“Solutions exist where First Nations can make more money long term from ancient forests while leaving them standing,” the group said, citing conservation financing under the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreement.

RELATED: Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

EnvironmentFirst Nations

Just Posted

Burns Lake local Wren Gilgan, captured this Bear family after their winter snooze in the woods near the community. (Wren Gilgan photo/Lakes District News)
Bear-attractant management, a province-wide priority

Black bears awake from winter slumber

LDSS students working on creating bike racks during the metals class. (Blaine Hastings photo/Lakes District News)
LDSS students building bike racks

The Lakes District Secondary School’s (LDSS) metal class taught by Blaine Hastings… Continue reading

Vaccine. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Register on Get Vaccinated site for second dose

Health officials urging everyone, including those with first dose to register

Boil water advisory. (File photo)
Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s long-term boil water advisory lifted

The province has no long-term water advisories in place

The Lakes District Fall fair has been cancelled second time in a row. (Lakes District News file photo)
Here’s why the Lakes District Fall Fair was cancelled

The association hoping to hold the fair in 2022

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read