'This is a War in the Woods 2.0': Activists continue to occupy old-growth forests in Fairy Creek
PORT RENFREW -- “Activist headquarters” is an encampment just outside of Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island. That is where the fight to prevent 200 hectares of ancient old-growth forest from being cut down continues.
“We haven’t been served (with an injunction), no,” said Molly Murphy, one of the many people calling the encampment home on Monday.
The injunction was granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on April 1. It orders the demonstrators to take down the blockades that they had set up to prevent forestry company Teal-Jones from accessing its logging operation in the area.
“We’re waiting for Teal-Jones to serve the injunction and then the police need to enforce it,” said Murphy. “That’s kind of what we are waiting for.”
Activists manning the blockades say things are desperate.
“It literally is our last chance, right now, to stand up for this,” said Shawna Knight, one of the forest defenders.
The group put out a call for support over the weekend and saw their numbers swell to around 200 people. They say they aren’t going away and have vowed to keep fighting, even if that means being arrested.
“We need arrests, basically, that’s what gets other people involved,” said Knight. “Once the RCMP show up here and people realize, 'Oh wow, this is a real dire situation,' then more people will hopefully get involved, once that happens.”
Other activists say the situation sets the stage for another "War in the Woods," a series of protests against old-growth logging, and mass arrests, that took place on Vancouver Island in 1993.
“This is the War in the Woods 2.0 if this is what it needs to be,” said a man that goes by the name of Shambu.
He says he's calling on the provincial government to intervene.
“Listen to your own recommendations,” said Shambu. “Listen to the people within your own constituency.”
“This is John Horgan’s own riding,” he added.
Shambu is referring to the province's old-growth report that was released last September. It called for the immediate deferrals of at-risk, old-growth forest within six months.
On Monday, Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, told CTV News that the province was still committed to protecting old-growth areas.
“We took immediate action on four of the recommendations and committed to implementing all 14. Our commitment to this important work has not changed,” she said in a statement.
That commitment, however, falls short for those who are protesting at the Fairy Creek old-growth forest.
On Monday, forestry company Teal-Jones defended its stance, days after the B.C. Supreme Court approved its injunction to remove blockades in the area.
“Our plans in Fairy Creek have been mischaracterized,” said the company in a statement Monday. “In fact, most of the watershed is protected forest reserve or unstable terrain, and not available for harvesting.”
“We are not in the position to get into next steps at this time, other than to say it is time for our work to get underway.”
Over the weekend, Teal-Jones began cutting old-growth trees in the Caycuse Valley near Youbou. On Sunday, activists set up a new blockade there as well.
There is no indication when that injunction is expected to be served.