First Nation says old-growth activists 'not welcome' in Fairy Creek area
VICTORIA -- A Vancouver Island First Nation says it does not welcome or support anti-logging activists on its territory in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew.
The Pacheedaht First Nation says it will ultimately determine what kind of logging and preservation activities happen in the disputed region where protesters have prevented logging company Teal-Jones from harvesting trees.
The area has been the site of blockades for eight months as demonstrators seek to protect some of the last old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island.
“Pacheedaht is concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities in our territory,” said hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones and chief councillor Jeff Jones in a statement Monday. “Pacheedaht has always harvested and managed our forestry resources, including old-growth cedar, for cultural, ceremonial, domestic and economic purposes. Our constitutional right to make decisions about forestry resources in our territory, as a governing authority in our territory, must be respected.”
The Pacheedaht leaders go on to say “we do not welcome support, unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism.”
However, one Pacheedaht elder is speaking out against the nation's leadership in support of the anti-logging activists.
"I implore people to continue to stand with me to protect our forests from destruction and colonialism because we need allies on the ground to stop old growth logging in my home territory, and for my future generations and relatives," said Bill Jones in a statement Tuesday.
"I will continue standing for the land until I am dead," he added. "I feel like an old-growth tree is worth the same as my life.”
Activist group Rainforest Flying Squad says it will issue a statement on the issue Tuesday afternoon.
The B.C. government granted Teal-Jones permits last year to cut timber within the area but activists prevented the company from accessing the land.
The B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction earlier this month to remove the protesters from the area.