Forestry industry coming to the defence of loggers seen in video clashing with activists
VICTORIA -- Protests in the forest around Fairy Creek reached a boiling point on Tuesday, and it was caught on video.
In the video, one man who works in the forest industry can be seen saying, "We've had enough." Another can be seen saying, "We have kids to feed.”
The video, released by the Rainforest Flying Squad, shows a heated confrontation between loggers and activists that escalated into violence.
"The one guy had a bleeding leg and cuts on his hand," said Glenn Reid, a volunteer with Rainforest Flying Squad, one of the groups responsible for ongoing protests in the Fairy Creek area.
On Thursday, the forestry industry is defending the workers in and the reasons for the confrontation.
"The environmentalists are deliberately and strategically provoking forestry workers at their place of employment," said Carl Sweet, director of the BC Forestry Alliance, an industry advocacy group.
The alliance says the video is exactly what the protesters wanted to accomplish, and says the media took the bait.
"I think the media is enabling the misinformation about what is happening in the B.C. forest industry,” said Sweet. “This is exactly what these environmentalists want to see, because they want to make a martyr out of hard-working, honest forestry workers."
Reid has a different perspective on the video.
"This is totally wrong, like these young guys there, they should be ashamed of themselves," Reid said.
There are accusations that the loggers were hurling anti-Indigenous slurs at the group.
"The crew that was on the video, they are contractors through a company called IFC," said John Jack, director and chairperson at Huumiss Ventures LP.
IFC has a contract with Western Forest Products and the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. The partnership between those two groups holds the logging rights to Tree Farm Licence 44. Both WFP and IFC have taken immediate action in response to the video.
"That includes pausing all operations in the area pending investigations at multiple levels," said Jack.
One of the groups investigating is the United Steelworkers, the union that represents forestry workers in the area.
"There's a frustration level for sure, but our members should know not to engage with protestors in that way,” said Brain Butler, president of United Steelworkers local 1-1937.
In a statement to CTV News, B.C. Forest Minister Katrine Conroy says:
“How old growth forests are managed is an emotional and complex issue ... We owe it to future generations to protect them. I also understand the concerns forestry workers and their families have that their livelihoods are at stake.”