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Dispatches from the frontlines of Fairy Creek Rainforest defence


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May 20, 2021

Claims of colonial violence by arrestee Katie George Jim:

One of those arrested on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at Caycuse camp, was Katie George Jim, a niece of Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones.

In a video after her release in Lake Cowichan, she claimed the RCMP had tackled her using an “excessive amount of force.” Though acting as a legal observer and not blockading, she says she was charged with obstruction of justice and assault of a police officer. She says she was only attempting to help a young man being tackled and treated roughly by the RCMP. She stated, “From the video you will see the only assault was of me.” She condemned it as colonial violence.

The videos can be seen on Instagram for the Fairy Creek blockade.—FOCUS

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9:08 am, May 21, 2021

Email from Corporal Chris Manseau, BC RCMP, to media:

As mentioned last night, the police enforcement operations in the Caycuse area of the BC Supreme Court’s injunction order was completed pending further assessment this morning.

As of this time it appears that enforcement will recommence in relations to the persons observed in the trees.  An assessment was made this morning, determining that those persons who remain in the structures in the trees will need to be removed if they do not choose to come down.

Currently the media liaison officers are stationed at the access control check point on the McClure Forest Service Road, and will again be able to escort media into the area designated for media. Every reasonable effort will be made to allow you to get as close as possible to the enforcement, while ensuring no interference with police operations. Plenty of time will be provided to you to ensure that you have opportunity to document and report on actions as they occur.

During the overnight patrols, two persons walked out of a heavily treed area and self-identified as journalists. These people had not been in prior contact with either the DLT members, or the media liaison officers on site. After some discussion they were offered and provided transportation to the access control point without any incident.

Once again, thank you for your co-operation, patience and participation over the last couple of days.

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9:27 am, May 21, 2021
Rainforest Flying Squad email report:
Despite being very aware there is at least one tree-sitter very high up in a tree at Caycuse, RCMP have allowed Teal Jones back into the area, and they have started falling trees. We are very concerned about her safety.  Asked why media were not allowed to witness her pending arrest, the media liaison officer reportedly said that a determination would be made this morning if it's necessary to remove that person today.
Also a member of our group just saw a fleet of police vehicles driving towards Fairy Creek on the Pacific Marine with paddy wagons. We assume they must be heading to 2000 Road.
Our Instagram is down. Our admin person is exploring the reasons and believes we have a good case for opening it again. He doesn't believe we've violated any of the rules and that upon review we should be up and running again.
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10:25 am, May 21, 2021

Email from Rainforest Flying Squad, Caycuse, Ditidaht Territory: 

We understand that loggers are felling trees within two tree-lengths of our tree-sitter. One of our members called WorkSafe BC, and was told loggers are not allowed to be felling trees with members of the general public there, and that if a protestor was hurt during logging that would be a criminal offence.

We believe there is not RCMP oversight at this time.

The RCMP's media liaison was asked if media would get full access to the site. They were told "Depending on the methods used to remove the tree sitter, media may/may not have full access. There may be some tradecraft techniques used that we want to keep private, however all attempts to have the media have access will be made."

We have been underwhelmed by the RCMP's "attempts" to give media access to this point.

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11:19 am, May 21, 2021 

Email from Rainforest Flying Squad:

• RCMP are extracting a protestor who has locked part of his body underground [on Braden Main in Pacheedaht Territory]

Police have set up an exclusion zone at Braden Main, about 3.9 km , where the road forks onto 2000 Road, near Fairy Creek.

Paddy wagons and a fleet of police vehicles arrived earlier this morning.

Protestors had recently set up a new blockade there, and loggers had been turned away from active felling for several days.

The felling is in a forested area contiguous with Fairy Creek, but outside of the Fairy Creek watershed itself.

 And in Caycuse, Ditidaht Territory:

We have heard there is falling one tree length away from a tree sitter. 

RCMP are working on extracting the tree sitter.

Why are they allowing falling to continue?

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11:44, May 21, 2021

Email from Rainforest Flying Squad, Caycuse, Ditidaht Territory: 

RCMP are now extracting the first tree-sitter.

We have just heard a journalist was arrested at Caycuse.

Sierra Club says endangered screech owls have been seen at Caycuse:

https://sierraclub.bc.ca/teal-jones-risks-destroying-fragile-western-screech-owl-forests/?fbclid=IwAR0RKEr3-mazsUO6IT_kiS3TfxpjcELdp4-sciePa76g4GcCkYQLPZp1hCc

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1:00-1:45 pm, May 21, 2021

A series of emails from the Rainforest Flying Squad report:

• Three arrests have been made at Road 2000 near Fairy Creek today. They are being taken to Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment.

• However, “Pony” the tree-sitter at Caycuse has survived active tree falling nearby today, and police efforts to extract her so far. We hear they need to get special equipment—a genie lift—from Nanaimo.

• Dangerous tree extraction continued in Caycuse with someone on the ground almost hit. 

• Worksafe BC has now shut down tree falling around tree sitters. This activity, by loggers, was unsupervised by RCMP. 

• Owing to endangered screech owls in the area, BC’s ministry of forests has shut down logging activity around the sites. Caycuse remains defended.

 

372830267_Caycuse1copy.thumb.jpg.095976dccc5c47e3ca6fb6e639366b7d.jpg

Beautiful forest at Caycuse, now believed dead. Photograph by Will O’Connell

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9:03 pm, May 21, 2021

Email from Corporal Chris Manseau, BC RCMP, to media:

Tomorrow, Saturday May 22, 2021, enforcement of the BC Supreme Court injunction order is again planning on continuing.  As operations are still being developed, the exact location of the enforcement has yet to be determined. However, I have been assured that it will be near Port Renfrew.

I ask that you meet our Media Relations Officers at 9:15 a.m. in the Port Renfrew area. They will be waiting in a gravel pull out/ parking area approximately 2kms past Port Renfrew on Harris Creek Rd. [Clarified laterGoogle calls the road Pacific Marine Rd. I have been assured that it is across from the entrance to the Port Renfrew Marina & RV Park.]

RCMP Sergeant Kris Clark will be driving a blue Chevrolet Trailblazer (for reference) You will be asked to sign in with identification and contact information.

At approximately that time (or before) the RCMP Relations Officers will be informed where enforcement will be scheduled to take place and you will be invited to travel to the enforcement area led by our Media Relations Officers. They will then escort you into a designated area for media. 

Every reasonable effort will be made to allow you to get as close as possible to the enforcement area, while ensuring no interference with police operations. Plenty of time will be provided to you in the area to ensure that you have opportunity to document and report on actions as they occur.

Due to timing and logistics, these plans may vary. We cannot guarantee you access if you are not there on time tomorrow, but we will ensure we provide ample notice if meeting times change.

I will not be able to provide further information on the anticipated plans for tomorrow or subsequent days ahead.

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10:56 am, May 22, 2021
Rainforest Flying Squad reports:
About 15 RCMP vehicles, including paddy wagons, are at our Waterfall Camp.
We are asking media to attend both Eden and Waterfall camps as soon as possible.
Trees are being felled again at Caycuse, again near tree-sitters. WCB [Worksafe BC] has again been called. We have heard RCMP are there with SUVs and dogs in the back woods.
Journalists and lawyers were turned away at Caycuse this morning.
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11:57 am, May 22, 2021
Rainforest Flying Squad reports:
We have just heard that about 50 pro-logging demonstrators have blocked our convoy of protestors at Mesachie Lake, who were heading to a demonstration at Caycuse Main, just south of Lake Cowichan.
At Caycuse, RCMP are currently working on getting the treehouse down, which has two people in it.
At Waterfall Camp, RCMP are extracting a man from a structure using jackhammers.
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1:11 pm, May 22, 2021

Email report from the Rainforest Flying Squad:

RCMP are enforcing the injunction at Waterfall Camp. Four people have been arrested. RCMP are still working to extract someone locked to a structure underground, which requires a jackhammer.This is Rainforest Flying Squad's first camp. It guards the approach to the Fairy Creek watershed. As soon as it is cleared, road building crews will begin cutting down trees and carving a road into the last unlogged watershed in the San Juan River system.

It is the last pristine watershed, outside of a park, on southern Vancouver Island. Although Teal Jones says it is only cutting down a small area in the headwaters, their permit allows building one kilometre of roads into Fairy Creek. This alone will do incredible damage.

Old-growth forests are far superior at carbon sequestration. Protecting old-growth forests is an exponentially better way to mitigate climate change than planting seedlings.

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Afternoon, May 22, 2021

Updates from the Rainforest Flying Squad:

•  Video of indigenous-led protest that broke through the exclusion zone earlier today at Caycuse. They staged a peaceful sit-in at the police line. See video.

• We are getting updates from “Keys,” a fourth tree-sitter still in Caycuse, that loggers have been falling trees around her for the past 2 hours. They found her internet and apparently have destroyed it. We are very concerned.

• We have also heard about 16 to 18 RCMP vehicles are right now en route to Caycuse, including paddy wagons. They have passed the Port Renfrew turnoff.

• Tzeporah Berman, veteran of Clayoquot defence and director of the environmental organization Stand.earth, has been released after her arrest today at Fairy Creek.“There are moments in history when our government fails us. When we are called to stand up. This is one of those moments,” she said. “There is so little old growth left standing and the government has so far broken its promise to protect what’s left.”  The Clayoquot blockades still stand as the greatest act of nonviolent civil disobedience in Canadian history.  

• 3:24 pm: Two people who were in a treehouse have been removed by RCMP and were arrested.

• Active logging has again resumed at Caycuse.

• Bill Jones, a Pacheedaht elder who visited Fairy Creek often in his life, is reportedly on his way to Fairy Creek. Jones recalls visiting the area from his childhood and throughout his life. He regards it as a cathedral, and sacred to his people. He has called for the area to be made a park in recognition of the thousands of First Nations people who died of smallpox in 1862. This is referring to the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Indigenous people who died of smallpox in 1862-63. Some reports say one-third of the Indigenous population of BC was lost, others say up to 60 percent.

Although the Pacheedaht chief has issued a public letter in April asking forest defenders to leave, Jones says he has the right under the Indian Act to invite people to his territory. He continues to welcome all who wish to help defend Fairy Creek to join us now. 

The city of Victoria grew quite suddenly from 300 to 5000 people in just one year, because of its situation on the way to the Cariboo goldfields.

Many First Nations from other communities had come to Victoria for work or trade opportunities. In 1862 there were between 2000 and 2500 First Nations people, including Tsimshian, Haida, Stikine, and others from the north, as well as the Songhees who lived there.

Due to racism and fear, Indigenous people were forced to leave Victoria, accompanied by two gunboats, even though many were direly ill with smallpox. Their dwellings in Victoria were burned, to prevent them from returning.

Many who were too sick to travel were dropped off along the coast, where they died. There could well be unburied bones of many First Nations around the San Juan River, into which Fairy Creek flows. 

Those that lived long enough to return home delivered the devastation of smallpox to their territories, killing thousands, as far north as Alaska. The Haida population alone was decimated from a pre-epidemic count of 6,607 people to only 829 in 1881.

Because First Nations were decimated, their land claims were ignored. It is part of the reason BC didn't make treaties:

“Governor Douglas had earlier signed 14 treaties on Vancouver Island until a funding conflict between the Crown and the colony postponed progress and, in the face of the smallpox crisis, treaties became a low priority. ‘There was this pervasive belief that this was a dying race and the smallpox epidemic seemed to confirm that. So essentially treaty-making was abandoned as a result,’ says Lutz.” From MacLeans.

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9:14 pm, May 22, 2021

Email to media from Corporal Chris Manseau of the BC RCMP:

Please be advised there is no scheduled media meet-up tomorrow, Sunday May 23rd, as there is no planned or scheduled enforcement of the BC Supreme Court’s injunction order in the Fairy Creek Watershed area.

The RCMP has tried to remain as flexible as possible for all media to have access, however there have now been several instances of persons claiming to be media who have then joined the protest situation.

If any journalists from recognized media outlets are interested in observing, reasonable efforts will be made to provide access to the enforcement area as described in the media release from Monday May 17th.

As the access control points do not have cellular or data services, it’s recommended that should media be interested access, please contact me at this email address rather instead of arriving at the access control points, so I can assess options.

Thank you for your co-operation and participation over the last couple of days.

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May 22, 2021

Downtown Victoria action in solidarity with old-growth defenders:

1821289877_tasha-cookvic.thumb.jpg.10b581894af58f6601999c5b4292374e.jpg

Tasha Diamant, chained to statue of Captain Cook, Government Street, Victoria (photograph by Dawna Mueller)

 

Tasha Diamant, 59, is a mother of two teenagers, an artist, and a former university professor.

Says Diamant: “When Captain Cook arrived in the late 1700s, some of our trees that people are getting arrested for protecting were already ancient! That blows my mind.”

“We cannot lose another inch of ancient forest when almost nothing is left. I’m doing nonviolent civil disobedience in solidarity with all those forest protectors getting unjustly arrested.”

“I’m chained to Captain Cook who is one of the guys who led us to where we are today. A situation where we have to fight our own British Columbia and Canadian governments to save the last 3% of ancient forests in BC.”

“I have two daughters and it’s my job as a mom to model responsibility and ethics. As a person living with Stage 4 cancer, I may not have a lot of time. I’m extremely anxious about getting arrested but I strongly believe that those of us with privilege must risk arrest to expose the real criminals.”

Follow @urbanactionsforancientforests on Facebook and @urban_actions4ancientforests on Instagram

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9:33 pm, May 23, 2021

Email to media from Corporal Chris Manseau of the BC RCMP:

Tomorrow, Monday May 24, 2021, enforcement of the BC Supreme Court injunction order is again planning on continuing.  As operations are still being developed, the exact location of the enforcement has yet to be determined, however, I have been assured that it will again be near Port Renfrew.

I ask that you again please meet our Media Relations Officers in the Port Renfrew area, this time at 9:45a.m. They will be waiting in the same gravel pull out/ parking area approximately 2kms past Port Renfrew on Pacific Marine Rd (across from the entrance to the Port Renfrew Marina & RV Park). You will be asked to sign in with identification and contact information.

At approximately that time (or before) the RCMP Relations Officers will be informed where enforcement will be scheduled to take place and you will be invited to travel to the enforcement area led by our Media Relations Officers. They will then escort you into a designated area for media. 

Every reasonable effort will be made to allow you to get as close as possible to the enforcement area, while ensuring no interference with police operations. Plenty of time will be provided to you in the area to ensure that you have opportunity to document and report on actions as they occur.

Due to timing and logistics, these plans may vary. We cannot guarantee you access if you are not there on time tomorrow, but we will ensure we provide ample notice if meeting times change.

I will not be able to provide further information on the anticipated plans for tomorrow or subsequent days ahead.

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