There is a war being waged in Canada for the environment, but it is the people defending our forests that are in the frontline covered in battle scars. As you read this article, there are protesters in Port Renfrew, Vancouver British Columbia vehemently defending the destruction of an old-growth rainforest forest at Fairy Creek by creating blockades around the sensitive natural areas.
Source: Gulf Island Driftwood
The group heading the logging in this forest, B.C. Timber Sales (BCTS), has not met the standards/regulations of environmental laws protecting these highly biodiverse areas—their logging operations would severely affect watersheds and special ecosystems in B.C. Moreover, some of the logging areas would include traditional territories owned by Indigenous groups. Although, the consequences of logging (environmental and cultural loss) and warnings from several authorities, including those from Forest Practices Board and Pacheedaht First Nation community in the province, have not stopped the provincial government from issuing approval for logging in Fairy Creek.
So the war bells were sounded and the community reacted, in all accounts peacefully. A group of conservationists, activists (youth groups especially), Indigenous groups, neighborhood residents, and interested people alike have surrounded Fairy Creek to defend the forest. The protests include a blockade, picket signs, and chants (all non-violent). In response, to this peaceful display and act of resistance, the government has sent the police.
The RCMP has now banned the blockades of logging activities on Vancouver Island. In doing so, the police have also restricted access to the forest service road, where many protests were being held, and stated that the only conversation they will have with protesters now is on
“their decision… to be arrested or not”. A threat of incarceration has not deterred activists from their battle for justice and instead lead to their unlawful incarceration. In the last week alone, over 50 people were arrested at the camps set up to protect Fairy Creek.
Among those arrested, including senior citizens, youth activists, indigenous people (the rightful owners of that land), and previous A/J writers. As a community of environmental writers and Canadian citizens, we stand in solidarity with this movement to protect our forests and our people. It is easy in this time to feel helpless and enraged by these events of injustice—both against the environment and our fellow environmental defenders.
However, I urge you instead to fuel this emotion towards action, even if you cannot stand with our soldiers in the frontline. Keep yourself updated on the situation by following the Fairy Creek Blockade. You can also take action by visiting the sites or aiding in online campaigns mandated by the Rainforest Flying Squad. Most importantly, repost, share, and make a ruckus on all of your social media platforms about the Fairy Creek situation! If the government does not listen to our cries in person, they will have to face the collective power of an internet mob of accountability.
A war has been brewing in the rainforests of British Columbia, a fight to defend the little nature we have left and the important cultures associated with it. Do not let our soldiers fight this battle alone.