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  1. Rainforest Flying Squad Also Concerned with Cutting of Trees July 25, 2021: Like RCMP Chief Supt. John Brewer, protestors at Ada’itsx / Fairy Creek are also gravely concerned about the felling of trees. In fact, this concern is the reason they have been blockading Fairy Creek and other areas in the Port Renfrew region, on Pacheedaht traditional territory, for nearly one year now. Although Premier Horgan deferred logging in June for two years, at Fairy Creek and in the central Walbran, forest defenders say this was no victory. Deferrals are not protection. Meanwhile, our last fragments of old-growth forests continue to disappear at the rate of 30 soccer fields per day on Vancouver Island alone. And BC Timber Sales is auctioning cutblocks at an even greater rate than previously.. Despite its promises last year to fulfill the Old Growth Strategic Review recommendations, the NDP government still has not protected these precious and irreplaceable forests. Elder Bill Jones, the Pacheedaht elder who welcomed the Rainforest Flying Squad to his territory to protect the old growth, said he does not disapprove of protestors cutting down small second-growth trees in order to protect the old growth. (See his statement, below.) “I express my support to the young people to hang in there to protect and care for the old growth,” he said. Elder Bill emphasized that the greater concern is the protection of the old growth forest. These ancient forests have been proven by science to provide countless benefits to humanity and the planet, from providing oxygen, filtering water, retaining moisture, cooling and cleaning the air, to providing rich habitat for countless species – far more than any second-growth forest can do. Retaining old-growth forests is also considered one of the best ways to mitigate climate change. So we are very glad to hear that the RCMP share our concern. Protestors said they did cut some small trees down on Saturday to block a road near Waterfall Camp at Fairy Creek. Their action slowed the RCMP from reaching forest defenders who were chained into structures. In fact, it enabled the group to take back 1.5 km of ground that was previously lost to RCMP at Waterfall Camp, and helped protect nearby camps.. “Yeah, cutting trees is awful, and that’s why we’re here,” said one. Another added that if the blockades were to fall, all those trees and many more would either be cut down or considered weed species and killed with pesticides by the logging company. While RFS works to halt the logging of old-growth trees, it does support continued second-growth logging. RCMP also accused protestors of risking forest fires with the use of chainsaws and because one person was seen smoking a cigarette as he sat on a tripod on a gravel road. Elder Bill had instructed protestors not to smoke outside of cars, and that has been re-emphasized. RFS members instituted a strict fire safety protocol last month. When they need to cut wood, they use hand saws or battery operated chainsaws to reduce fire risk. However, protestors note that RCMP have been using angle grinders, which create sparks, during extractions, and have also used chainsaws themselves to clear the road. RCMP have also cut down trees themselves at Waterfall Camp when they moved the excavator off-road to get past protestors who are chained into “hard blockades.” Despite the extreme fire risk, loggers are still felling trees just 10 km away for road-building in the Bugaboo area. Among the thousands of people who have demanded that BC halt the logging of old-growth forests are the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, more than 100 well-known Canadians such as Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Adrienne Clarkson, and Brian Mulroney, as well as Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, UBC professor Suzanne Simard, scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger, countless citizen petitions, 223 international scientists, and numerous municipal councils, including Cumberland, Courtenay, Lantzville, Comox Valley Regional District, Metchosin, Powell River, Port Moody, Saanich, Nanaimo, Victoria, and the Local Government Association of BC. Solidarity rallies and protests have been held regularly in Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Squamish, Tofino, Prince George and even Toronto. Last month, the Sierra Club of BC released the results of a survey that found 85% of British Columbians want old growth forests protected. Clearly, we and the RCMP are not alone in our concern for trees. Elder Bill Jones’ statement: “They’re only cutting on the right-of-way, which will be cut again anyway. That’s common practice.” He said loggers refer to the young trees at the sides of roads as “dog hair”, and when they get in the way of logging trucks they are mowed down or uprooted and put to the side. “It’s not really something to make a mountain out of. It’s not a threat to the ecology. It’s okay with me. It’s not an offence to me, or anyone.There’s miles and miles of second growth on rights-of-way that’s simply mowed down. “I don’t pretend that the Pacheedaht or any mankind owns the old growth. I feel the old growth belongs to the Great Mother and it’s our duty -- and all our duty -- to protect and care for it. Whereas the company and the loggers are using every little excuse to impair and deface our intentions of saving the old growth. “They seek to embarrass us, and they’re using every means possible that they can create to harm our honest intentions, of caring for our old growth. Whereas they have the grim intention of cutting it down. “I express my support to the young people to hang in there to protect and care for the old growth. My grandfather said the forest doesn’t belong to anybody; the forest is the forest’s. It’s a separate energy that includes us in its growth. Grandpa said we’re not owners of the forest, and we have to ask what the forest gives us. “In order to respect the forest we have to protect and care for the last of the old growth. Essentially, the kids are actually doing that, by using what they feel our Great Mother lets them use to help our Great Mother protect and care for the last of her old growth. My assertion here isn’t so much economic or legal, it’s a spiritual assertion that the old growth are spiritual energies in themselves that nurture and care for us, and give us direction. “The usage there is for the sake and for the protection of the old growth. “I congratulate them. They don’t mean harm.”
  2. July 22, 2021 Dear RCMP: Remember the letter the Rainforest Flying Squad sent you back in mid-May just as the RCMP enforcement at our camps began? Remember how we asked you to mind the lessons of your past, at both Wet’suwet’en and TMX, and how we pledged ourselves to uphold our commitment to non-violence? How we asked you not to target Indigenous members and to respect our right to peaceful protest? We kept our promise. You didn’t. Here we are now into our third month of enforcement still face to face with your paramilitary CIRG unit and the list of your infractions is long. In an astoundingly short period of time, you have amassed quite the rap sheet that includes, but is not limited to: Deliberate targeting of Indigenous youth in exclusion zones and subjecting them to rough treatment and intimidation during arrests. The use of exclusion zones despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these zones are illegal. The use of personal searches despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these practices are illegal. The use of access checkpoints despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these practices are illegal. Denial of media access to enforcement zones. Refusal to allow RFS legal observers and police liaisons to do their jobs. Catch and release programs designed to intimidate people for such offences as refusing to abide by your imaginary exclusion zones. The use of threats of rubber bullets, tear gas and arrest to intimidate Indigenous and non-Indigenous defenders. Dangerous use of excavators while extracting human beings from sleeping dragons, causing one head injury and putting people’s lives at extreme risk. Refusal to provide safety helmets to defenders during these dangerous extraction practices. Dangerous use of grinders, cutting a woman’s finger. Illegal towing of private citizens’ vehicles on public roads far from the camps. Illegal practices of giving personal vehicles to Teal Jones to be held for unreasonable towing fees, along with personal items. Illegal stoppage of buses and legitimate tour operators. Deliberate failure to heed the enforcement order of Justice Verhoeven that allows public protest in the enforcement area. Confiscation of donations meant for camp defenders. And perhaps one of the worst offences: dragging a man by a bandana around his neck until he lost consciousness and kicking him in the head – this after the BC Supreme Court rendered the decision about your illegal actions. Surely, inflicting harm or death on peaceful protesters is against the law and your ethics. We thought your purpose is to serve and protect Canadians. Instead, you have used your paramilitary force of trained personnel, helicopters, tracking dogs, threats and intimidation with increasing brutality and harshness. We have noted the presence of officers previously engaged in harmful practices. We remind you that we are Canadian citizens, entitled to conduct peaceful acts of civil disobedience and bound by a Code of Conduct we take to heart and employ every day to protect our forests. On July 20, 2021, the BC Supreme Court confirmed the illegality of some of your actions, stating that the public has the right to access the Fairy Creek area, and that your geographically extensive exclusion zones and checkpoints are not justified. Also on this day, the BC Supreme Court ruled you cannot deny media the right to access the enforcement areas. To deny the media is to deny their ability to bear witness and document events in an impartial manner, one of the very foundational rights of our democracy. And just so we are perfectly clear, we will continue our peaceful protests as citizens, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, of this country. In this time of increasing government and corporate partnerships that fail the public interest, we, as Canadian citizens, have a duty and a right to defend our forests. We remind you that we are standing for the old-growth forests on your behalf as well as that of your children. We ask you to think about how you wish to be remembered in the coming years. Regards, The Rainforest Flying Squad
  3. DAILY UPDATE: June 25 Part 1: WE TAKE THE BLOCKADE TO TEAL JONES 18 total arrests today, 320 arrests to date Old-growth logging protest at Teal Cedar in Honeymoon Bay, Friday morning: Rainbow Eyes, a UVic graduate from the Indigenous Guardianship Program, climbed to the top of the frontloader at a blockade we set up directly at the Teal Jones equipment lot in Mesachie Lake. Of the 20 or so blockaders present, she was the last to be removed. When RCMP reached her on the top of the frontloader, she went limp using her body as a wrench in the metaphorical gears of this machine programmed to turn natural wonders into dollars. Left with no other options, RCMP wrapped her torso with a sling, hooked her up to the bucket of a full-sized excavator and lowered her off the machine. @arvinoutside Part 2: RCMP RISK KILLING A WOMAN ▪️At the same time as the arrests at Teal-Jones’ equipment lot, a small group chose to lock themselves arm to arm in steel tubes in a device we call the friendship bracelet, across a bridge of Braden Main. ▪️The forest defenders on Braden Main were arrested, but not a single arrest occurred at Waterfall camp. ▪️Finally, RCMP began enforcement at 2000 Camp. Where there were two tripods and two sleeping dragons. ▪️The first tripod was 20 feet tall, and of all the extractions for the day, this was by far the most poorly handled. ▪️The forest defender sitting atop the tall tripod was joined by a C-IRG RCMP officer in tactical green. He got out a thin seat-belt-like strap of webbing. He slipped this webbing around her torso just above her solar plexus. The strap was arranged in a slipknot such that the more weight is put on it, the tighter it constricts. While the stoic forest defender calmly maintained non-violent discipline in remaining limp while the officer attempted to manipulate her body out of the perch, a sudden pain gripped her chest. “It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced,” she recounted, as the strap constricted around her ribs with the full weight of her own body. ▪️Police summoned an ambulance to give the injured blockader medical attention. She could have broken a rib, which under the increasing constriction of the strap would have driven it straight into her lung, puncturing it, causing her lungs to fill with fluid, killing her before she even got to the hospital. ▪️ At the hospital she was given an x-ray and ultrasound which showed no broken bones, but spasming muscles and severely inflamed intercostals were readily apparent. ▪️Right now, the RCMP has quads on the mountain between Waterfall and Ridge Camp. They want to end this quickly. They want to keep the public unaware of what’s happening out here and why. We are fighting to defend the last slivers of biodiversity in this province.
  4. June 24 Update We expanded our camps, as we pass OVER 300 ARRESTS ▪️Imagine a lone forest defender relaxing in a balloon-adorned hammock suspended high off the ground. This is what greeted RCMP when they answered the call to clear the road to Camper’s Creek’s cutblock for industry. ▪️We also saw action at Waterfall Camp. After a long night of shining bright lights on people locked into devices, running generators, idling cars, and threatening to arrest anyone who asked them to turn their cars off, RCMP tried yet again to remove our camp. With ATVs, C-IRG units, and jackhammers, police sought to make quick work of our blockades with supposedly "secret tactics." Tactics so secret in fact, that they set up a media exclusion line so far as to make it literally impossible to capture and report on any of the action. In fact, one media person was arrested for refusing to obey this arbitrarily distant line. ▪️To explain the absence of media to our forest defenders, RCMP indicated that journalists had "gotten lost." ▪️In total, we had three people with their arms in ground holes, one person suspended in a tripod constructed from salvaged wood, and one man with his arms in a large horizontal log suspended in the air by a bank on one side and another log on the other. This man in the log was brutalized by police. When they found that he was not locked in and simply holding his wrists together in the log and unwilling to leave, they told him "We're going to introduce some pain tolerance." Two officers proceeded to pull on either of his arms, with one punching him in the wrist. ▪️During all of this, two of our legal observers decided that extractions that RCMP deemed "too unsafe" for the public to witness were likely too unsafe for the public to not witness. They walked up past the exclusion line, staying unobtrusively to the side of the road. Within minutes, they were arrested. One defender chose to lay down and be carried out. The other chose to walk of her own accord. The blockade continues, and it desperately needs you. Come to camp.
  5. June 23, Part 1: 50 CHALLENGE ILLEGAL EXCLUSION LINE 17 total arrests 2000 CAMP: ▪️ A group of 50 forest defenders kept the RCMP busy by challenging an illegal exclusion line set by the police outside 2000 camp. ▪️Early this morning, and small recon mission headed up to 2000 camp. Finding the camp completely destroyed, they decided to carry on. Before leaving, they noticed that all of the tents and personal belongings forest defenders from yesterday's action were missing. ▪️The loss of these possessions is no small problem, particularly for one blockader who has everything he owns in his backpack. This determined young man made his way to the blockades by train-hopping from Ontario and is now relying entirely on the good will of this movement to survive. ▪️After this scout team returned, a larger group left HQ to conquer the mountain and re-establish camp. The RCMP had set up 2 checkpoints. Four officers stood side by side blocking the road at the first checkpoint, telling defenders not to pass, but ultimately allowing our team through. 4 police vehicles escorted the blockaders up the mountain with great fanfare, sounding their sirens and yelling out of megaphones that they intended to arrest us, should we stay in the road. After a long hike, forest defenders reached a second, more heavily guarded checkpoint complete with a helicopter. 15 crossed this line, despite police threatening to lay criminal charges. This was, and always has been a bluff - every single one of the arrestees today and in every other instance of challenging these illegal exclusion lines has had all charges dropped. This is because these lines are illegally far away from arrests and the officers know these charges would not hold up in court. ▪️Rainbow Eyes, one of our Indigenous leaders in this movement, has been arrested previously. During her first arrest, she was held overnight in a cell for refusing to sign documentation that would prevent her from entering traditional Pacheedaht territories. We need a moratorium on Old Growth logging. June 23, Part 2: WATERFALL CAMP HIT - 284 arrest to date ▪️At 10:30PM, RCMP tactical units arrived under cover of night to destroy infrastructure and steal tools. This morning, they followed up, returning at 9:30am to arrest those who locked into devices. All people in non-arrestable roles were escorted off the site, and RCMP set up two exclusion lines - one for the police Liasisons, and a second one further away for everyone else. We have not heard that any media was present and have scant details available. 2 people were extracted from locking devices. ▪️During the extractions, helicopters dropped 4 tactical officers and gear including, possibly 2 ATVs between Ridge and Waterfall. Some police left during the extractions, presumably to destroy some of our blockade materials further up the hill. ▪️Not to sound like a broken record, but we need you. Waterfall Camp is on the brink, and RCMP are on the hill leading up to Ridge camp. We have been compromised behind our lines, and the only thing stopping Fairy Creek's headwaters from getting logged is a few dedicated souls sitting directly in the way. The BCNDP can say every kind platitude in the world, and deferr already-protected Old Growth stands all day long. The only thing that actually matters is that, under their rule, Ancient Giants are still falling. In fact, the NDP has been coercing First Nations band councils into signing deals that would essentially pay them pennies to give their blessing for this destruction. There is a better way, and we are determined to see it: Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. Selective Logging. A moratorium on Old Growth logging. We can't bring Horgan to the table without you. Come to camp. A true story: During yesterday’s arrest at Waterfall Camp, one defender chose to lay down and be carried out, the blockader was eventually asked if he would like to be transported to the shade. Under a canopy on the side of a lonely logging road at a morally imperative illegal blockade, a man working for the RCMP and a man fighting for what he believes in regardless of the law came to an understanding. Exhausted, overworked, and overheated, the officer said, "Man, I don't want to carry you down there." "Don't take it personal. I'm following my heart here, and I just don't agree with what you're doing," the blockader replied. They spoke to one another of motivations, or family, and of the future, and at some point, the officer confided that he agreed with what we are doing, and knows full well that it's up to the politicians to make things change. The blockader asked him "how do we make change?" "You know," he responded, "maybe it's the way you guys are doing it. Let me know if it works." Some time later, the officer ended the conversation. "All right brother, what do you want to do? Either way, you'll be at the bottom of the hill. You can go in the cart or walk down. It's up to you?" "How about you uncuff me, and I get to give you a hug too?" "I'll give you a fist bump." They ended up having a hug, and walking down together. This wasn't an isolated incident today. Another officer gave two of our people a ride down from Waterfall Camp and when they asked him what he thought of "all of this," his answer was, "You should all be proud of yourselves. I think it's working." This is the third time in two days we have heard police confiding to our forest defenders that they agree with what we are doing. Government is the only entity with the power to stop ecocide with the simple signing of some documents. To not use this power in the face of such overwhelming evidence of the cliff government-supported practices are walking us off as a species is nothing short of negligent genocide. We will only be able to stop this by reclaiming our power as people and forcing John Horgan and the BC NDP to the table. Come to camp.
  6. Despite efforts (and deferrals) 35 hectares have been logged in the Caycuse alone A Caycuse tree-sit, before RCMP enforcement (Photographer prefers no credit) Logging Continues in Ada’itsx / Greater Fairy Creek Rainforest and Other Old-Growth Areas Despite public expectations that ancient forests have been saved, old-growth logging continues in the intact, adjacent forests surrounding Fairy Creek. Activists say the old-growth logging deferral announced June 9th has changed little. While a temporary reprieve is in place for the Fairy Creek watershed itself, huge trees are still being cut down every day in the connected, surrounding forests on Pacheedaht ancestral territory. “Most of the ancient forests are still not protected,” explains Carole Tootill, a spokesperson with Rainforest Flying Squad, the grassroots group that started the first blockade to protect old growth last August. “Logging has not stopped. We are losing more irreplaceable old-growth trees every day. With RCMP using aggressive tactics against our blockades, yet more trees are likely to be extracted before the additional, promised deferrals are announced this summer,” she said. Rainforest Flying Squad members are calling for more support to defend these last ancient stands. Logging has been ongoing in an area downslope from the ridgeline of Fairy Creek, near 2000 Road, after RFS’s blockade there was overwhelmed by RCMP. All six cut-blocks in Caycuse have been logged since the RFS blockade was defeated by RCMP. “The deferral announcement gave a lot of people the idea that logging had halted in these areas,” adds Joshua Wright, another RFS spokesperson. “People thought the protests could relax -- but that isn’t the case. Big trees are being felled every day.” Wright adds: “The deferral is really more of a distraction than a protection. Our forest defence is able to protect some trees, but we need more forest protectors to keep these ancient trees standing, and make sure they’re protected forever. This is not the time to stand down.” Satellite images from June 17 clearly show cutting in the remaining old growth. Since the deferral was announced, over 35 hectares have been logged in the Caycuse alone. “What we are seeing is active clear-cutting in Camper Creek, as well as active cutting up the Road 2000 and in the Caycuse. Road building is continuing into the Bugaboo. Once the roads are built they will enable further clear-cutting of the area,” Wright said. “Over 90 hectares of old-growth forest has been logged because of the RCMP's enforcement. And that is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what is happening to old growth across the province.” Despite the enforcement, blockades remain at most locations including Waterfall camp, Ridge camp, Walbran Camp, Sassin Camp and Helicopter Camp. These blockades remain as the last defence for ancient forests. Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones has invited Rainforest Flying Squad members to help him defend this land. Jones wants supporters to hold the camps until all of the old-growth is clearly protected. Until that happens, the Rainforest Flying Squad will remain in place. There is a growing call for an end to old-growth logging throughout the province. In addition to Victoria, rallies have been held in Vancouver, Castlegar, Davis Bay on the Sunshine Coast, Kelowna, Prince George, Revelstoke, Toronto and even New York. A change.org petition, which calls for the end of old-growth logging in British Columbia and is endorsed by actor Mark Ruffalo, has climbed to just under 70,000 signatures. Meanwhile a recent poll commissioned by the Sierra Club of BC shows that 92% of British Columbians support protecting old growth. The same tree-sit, logged after the protestor was arrested by helicopter and the area logged. Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.
  7. Rainforest Flying Squad statement in response to violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples, civil liberties, and human rights by RCMP in the Caycuse forest area, on Ditidaht First Nation Territory ARRESTS IN THE CAYCUSE EXCLUSION ZONE on Tuesday May 25 2021 and the various restrictions that have been placed on media, legal observers, local Indigenous peoples and the general public during RCMP enforcement actions are an illegal and extrajudicial use of force, according to legal representatives for the Rainforest Flying Squad. Lawyer Noah Ross, who represents the Rainforest Flying Squad says that “The RCMP enforcement zone actions arguably violate the civil rights—including the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression—of those seeking to protect old-growth forests. “This is further exacerbated by the fact that the lion’s share of the arrests in question were dropped, and led to no charges. “When the underlying issue is one of ecological health and colonial injustice, the RCMP and government should approach civil liberties violations cautiously, or they will be seen to stand on the side of industry and frontier colonialism,” Ross added. The so-called “exclusion zone” was enforced by armed checkpoints on public roads located on the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation. On May 25th, about 45 people arrived at Caycuse to peacefully protest the wide and arbitrary exclusion zone established there by the RCMP, and to hold a vigil for the Ancient Forests. They included RFS members as well as many public supporters. Among these were a group of Indigenous youth from various nations, elders, and an individual who wanted to show her support for a few hours before returning to the bedside of a dying relative. One RCMP vehicle arrived on site and officers requested that the road be cleared or civil disobedience charges would be laid. This message was delivered over a loudspeaker but was not audible for many of the people who were present. Police liaisons approached the RCMP vehicle and requested to speak with members from the RCMP Division Liaison Team (DLT) to find out where peaceful protestors could go to continue their vigil. Instead of replying, 10-15 RCMP vehicles rapidly pulled up and, without prior warning, RCMP officers immediately began violently arresting people. They seemed to focus first on those wearing high-visibility vests, such as legal observers and police liaisons. At least 42 people present at the site of the Caycuse exclusion zone were arrested that day. After these first arrests at around 8:30 AM, RCMP officers corralled the others, and announced that every person remaining was also under arrest. All had been standing peacefully off the road. Some were detained in the corral until about 7:30 PM before being transported to Lake Cowichan RCMP station, without food or support for over 13 hours. The final arrestees were not released until 10:30 PM. The RCMP did not read the injunction to the people on the road. They did give a fair warning to withdraw from the road, and at the time arrests started, protestors were in the process of trying to learn where they should go to safely continue their vigil. Despite following orders to move, all present were arrested anyway. Clearly they were not in breach of the injunction. There appears to have been overt misconduct by the RCMP. Unjustified force was used on numerous individuals who were peaceful and in no way resisting arrest. As well, there are accounts that RCMP officers targeted and threatened Indigenous and BIPOC youth. One young woman of colour said an RCMP officer tried to rip off her hijab. Multiple others said they were threatened by police to have their piercings cut out. A small, 18-year-old police liaison cried out in pain when she was roughly grabbed by four or five officers and brought to her knees. She cried out “I’m a minor!” and was not resisting arrest. Without cause or reason, all vehicles belonging to the protestors were towed about three kilometres down the road. None of these vehicles were blocking the road. Protestors were told they could access their vehicles after their release but might have to pay Teal Jones for the cost of the towing. Over the past 10 days the RCMP have made approximately 104 arrests total in the Fairy Creek and Caycuse area. Fifty-four people were arrested but released without charges, and another 50 people have been charged for civil contempt of court and/or obstruction of justice. Individuals have been detained for 13 hours or more before release, yet almost all arrestees have been released without charges. The exclusion zone was set up on May 17th, 2021. It preceded the enforcement of the injunction at the Caycuse Forest Protection camp the following day. At that time, forest defenders on site were given 24 hours to leave even if they were not blockading or violating the terms of the injunction in any way. DLT officers informed them that anyone remaining on site at the time of enforcement -- including Indigenous peoples on their own territory, media, legal observers, police liaisons, medics and witnesses -- would be arrested if they chose to stay. The RCMP stated that this exclusion zone is justified: "The primary concerns of the police are public safety, police officer safety, and preservation of the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, within the terms set by the Supreme Court in the injunction." However, Ross states that the exclusion zone is not in keeping with the geographic scope and terms of the April 1st, 2021 Injunction Order given by Justice Verhoeven, which specifically allows for peaceful protest within the injunction area. He adds that “the Injunction stipulates that only those directly interfering with logging activity, or within 50 metres of company equipment, are subject to arrest.” Limiting public access to the injunction area directly undermines the safety of those peacefully protesting within the exclusion zone. They are left vulnerable and without witnesses. “The RCMP has repeatedly announced to the media and public that there was no planned enforcement on a given day, and used this to deny access for everyone including members of the press -- while proceeding to enforce the injunction and make arrests,” Ross said. At the checkpoint on both days of action, the RCMP arbitrarily moved the exclusion zone line, with the effect of criminalizing peaceful public protest and severely limiting press freedom. Furthermore, RCMP ignored reports of logging activity within very unsafe distances from forest defenders who were still on site. Finally, the RCMP denies access for Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nation members to large parts of their unceded territory without free, prior and informed consent or a clear and properly communicated plan to facilitate their entry into the so-called exclusion zone. “The fact that, at the same time, the RCMP actively enables industry to inflict further violence on the land speaks clearly to the state’s complicity in ongoing colonialism,” said Elder Bill Jones, a member of the Pacheedaht First Nation. Jones has welcomed the Rainforest Flying Squad and its supporters to help him protect the old-growth forests at Fairy Creek since last August. These concerns are shared by a number of other groups, including a coalition of media and the Canadian Association of Journalists which is initiating their own court challenge. On May 20th, the BC Civil Liberties Association released an open letter condemning the Caycuse exclusion zone. The RCMP was censured in 2019 by its internal Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the use of exclusion zones on Wet’suwet’en and Elsipogtog territory (see here for a link to a recent Ricochet news publication regarding this issue, and here to a link to the letter from the CRCC). In a statement, The Canadian Association of Journalists also called on the courts to limit the powers of the RCMP in granting injunctions in order to protect the freedom of the press.
  8. THIS PAST WEEK the Rainforest Flying Squad has been faced with a choice: “We can be complicit in the pressure exerted by government and industry to exploit ancient territorial land for profit,” Glenn Reid says. “Or we can continue to support Indigenous peoples as they assert their right to defend unceded territory and their ancient relatives - the forests.” As Kati George-Jim says: “Uncle Bill is not an activist. He is a sovereign person asserting his Aboriginal rights, and upholding his responsibilities to future generations.” The blockades still stand while organizers pause to understand the forces at play and to consult with Indigenous peoples on the territory. Last year, RFS began the blockades to protect these precious ancient forests that are at imminent risk. Over months of sharing time with elder Bill Jones, who has asked us to stay on his traditional territory to help defend it, we are learning more about the deep-rooted, complex oppression of Indigenous peoples that continues to this day. Jones and George-Jim explain that when reserves were created, Indigenous people were forced to live on a tiny fraction of their original traditional territories - or even on the territories of other peoples. The longhouses that had been central to economy, culture, and spirituality were replaced by settler-style housing that imposed nuclear-family life. The band council system was also imposed. It eroded and displaced the role and value of women. It unbalanced power in favour of males, which set them up to be coerced by government and industry to allow exploitation of the land. And the same violence continues today. Systems and structures set in place at the beginning of colonization are still enforced. Indigenous peoples and societies are seen as standing in the way of settler, industrial and government use of unceded lands. Freedom to live a life true to traditional cultures and laws - free from oppression - is a promise that has never been honoured by B.C. or Canada. “Colonialism is based on separating our peoples from our lands by putting them on reserves, for example, using genocide and assimilation,” George-Jim says. “These structures attack Indigenous societies by legalizing violence against women, children, and the land. They go against the foundations of who we are as Indigenous peoples.” Jones and George-Jim explain that reserves do not represent traditional Indigenous territories. The Crown’s duty is not fulfilled by consulting solely with band councils. And consultation alone is not consent. The Crown is responsible to gain consent from all title holders without coercion. Without real consent, resource extraction directly infringes on Aboriginal title and rights. Cultural practices and Indigenous food sovereignty are not possible on destroyed land. Both federal and provincial governments have a legal requirement to consult all Indigenous peoples affected by proposed projects. Governments exert pressure on band councils in order to further their own ends. Industry benefits from the failure to consult by both levels of government. Provincial and federal governments, along with industries, offer “benefit carrots to the political elite,” Jones explained, to entice them into coercive agreements. “We are being choked out.” “Indigenous peoples are forced into the extractivist economies because of the entrenchment of poverty, where the only way out of poverty is to surrender their inherent rights and responsibilities." says George-Jim. Tragically, in the process Indigenous traditional values, worldviews and ecological land stewardship (ie. Indigenous governance) are sacrificed for short-term profit. So-called ‘mutual benefit agreements’ or ‘revenue sharing agreements’ are actually coercive tools used by government and industry. They are designed to force Indigenous agreement. These agreements gag dissent and bind participants to non-interference clauses. “These agreements are accepted as legal,” Jones added. “But they ignore the rights and privileges of the band membership.” “There is no power to say yes or no to the actual decision. If bands disagree with a project, like old-growth logging or pipelines, they are basically surrendering their right to be consulted,” George-Jim explains. The end result is predetermined, inevitable, and outside of Indigenous control. Although the BC government passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, it has yet to put Indigenous rights first in situations where that would halt exploitation in traditional territories. “It is a colonial deceit to selectively recognize Indigenous leaders when it benefits industry, under the guise of reconciliation,” Jones said. We are learning to understand the laws of the land and be accountable to them. For all of the above reasons, RFS feels we must stand behind Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones and other Indigenous people to protect the old-growth forests. The old-growth forests hold the spirit of the land, the integrity of the waterways, and all beings that live in or among them. We pledge to help defend these irreplaceable ancient relatives until they are protected forever. We hope you will join us. “We have to be protectors and custodians of our earth,” Bill Jones said. “We are losing our inheritance. We are being stripped of all our value of selves.” The Rainforest Flying Squad is blockading attempts by Teal Cedar Ltd to cut old-growth forests in TFL 46, which overlaps with Pacheedat territory. This comment was written in collaboration with Bill Jones and his niece, xʷ is xʷ čaa (Kati George-Jim).
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