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Yellow Cedar

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  1. Great stuff Herb. I have a suggestion: that we don't use arbitrary goals like "50% of current AAC", and instead take a science based approach and limit AAC to 75% of growth in mature forests, and 40% of growth in recovering clearcuts, (until they recover), based on pre-contact levels. cheers Ben
  2. It really is. There was a sexual assault yesterday, of the same kind that got New York Governor Cuomo removed. Who polices the police?
  3. Sadly, the federal RCMP "Complaint Department" is a glorified wastebasket, and Trudeau met Horgan recently in Nanaimo and didn't say a word. We should stop reacting to the injunction, and take Horgan and the RCMP to court, imho. We still have an independent judiciary in Canada, but we're not using it.
  4. It is fair to call it BC's deforestation industry. The solution to Fairy Creek is to stop arguing about shakes or guitars, and pass legislation criminalising the cutting of old growth. The loggers can all move over in TFL-46 and cut the second growth. It won't cost anything to do that.
  5. “Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb, across my head...” Day in the Life– Lennon/McCartney I SLEEP IN MY CAR when I’m in Ada-Itsx/Fairy Creek, wedged into a slot between boxes of supplies, so falling out of bed isn’t an option. I greet the dawn by wiggling the door latch with my toes, and sliding out onto the dusty road like a sardine out of a tin. “The things we do...” a woman smiled, walking by. A few nights ago, an angry mob of loggers stoned three cars parked at the side of the road, showering their sleeping occupants with broken glass. I was so upset, I wrote Diary 5 at 3 am. By 8 am I had filed it by satellite, and began to round up a small herd of biologists documenting endangered species like Marbled Murrelets and Western Screech-Owls in Tree Farm Licence 46 (TFL 46), as well as the Juggernaut Pictures film crew. Streaming their work on The Green Channel, Juggernaut makes investigative films like The Pristine Coast, which revealed for the first time that disease from open pen fish farming, and not commercial fishing, likely caused the East Coast cod collapse. Scientist/sleuth/director Scott Renyard has chosen deforestation and forest mismanagement for his next project. He’s sure in the right province for that! Fairy Creek has drawn him in with irresistible images. Scene 1: Unlawful Police Action. Location: A Public Road “A band of bird-watching biologists are barred entry from an eco-reserve by an RCMP squad enforcing a bogus ‘Provincial Emergency’ declared by John Horgan on behalf of a billionaire corporation.” Jim Cuthbert is the leader of this dangerous gang. They’ll stop at nothing to listen to birds. The RCMP told them they couldn’t enter their “exclusion zone” around TFL 46 without a physical copy of their diplomas and a letter of accreditation from the organizations they belong to. Biologist Jim Cuthbert (top left in the truck) and his dangerous gang (YC photo) By doing so, RCMP officers broke several Canadian laws. An exclusion zone is a discretionary privilege police use to create room to work and protect citizens at disaster sites. Justice Verhoeven and the Pacheedaht Council welcomed us to peacefully exercise our Charter Rights of free assembly and protest anywhere outside 50 metres from active logging. A reasonable exclusion zone would be 10 metres beyond that 50 metres. The RCMP exclusion zones here stretch up to 10 kilometres from active logging. The RCMP have set these illegal roadblocks up all over TFL 46 to keep media and lawyers from witnessing abusive RCMP tactics: like shining klieg lights on defenders all night to rob them of sleep, dropping excavator blades three inches from defenders’ faces while they are fastened to roads, and inflicting beatings on First Nations youth. The roadblocks also stop the 85 percent of BC’s population that wants to protect old growth from participating. If 10,000 citizens came out to block the loggers, what would the police do? Put us all in jail? Biologist Loys Maingon MA, PhD, MSc (RPBio) drove from Courtenay to research an article for the Bulletin of the Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists. The RCMP sent him back, telling him he would, quote: “need a court order to access Crown Land in TFL 46.” On hearing that, Jim and his merry band of scientists clad themselves in Lincoln green and melted through the illegal RCMP blockade into the woods. Scene 2: Our Intrepid Journalist Finds His Heart’s Desire. Location: Secret To interview the biologists, as well as forest defenders “Screech” and “Owl,” cinematographer Athan Merrick felt the best location would be at the feet of Titania, a 2,000-year-old yellow cedar. Titania was Queen of the Fairies in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our 7-year-old guide showed us to the trail head, but I asked a man up ahead if he knew the trail. He said he had made the trail, under the guidance of Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones. What are the odds? “Ask and ye shall receive” is the way things happen in Fairy Creek. You ask the forest for a guide, and you get the guide. We’ve been suspecting the trees are orchestrating the defence of our shared ecosystem. I was about to find out just how. I’ve spent my whole life dancing with trees—I’ve planted 300,000, from clearcuts to cities. I’ve horse-logged them with love, sawn them into timber, crafted them into furniture, and carved them into public sculpture. Of all my favourite tree species, my Holy of Holies is yellow cedar. I turned a corner, and there she was, Titania. Titania, a 2,000-year old yellow cedar (YC photo) As I came into her presence, my heart trembling with joy, I suddenly knew that the Queen of the Fairies was not going anywhere. She looks great, for 2,000. Yellow cedars have a special, soft, fluffy beauty at the edges. I told her so. I walked up to reassure her that she was not coming down, but when my hands touched her bark, I was flooded with her voice, telling me that she was glad I also knew she is not going anywhere. I had found the Mother Tree. As Bill Jones says: “You do not go up to the forest to cut it down, you go to ask the Great Mother what she would like you to do.” Steady as you go seemed to be the instructions. As we filmed a biologist talking about how serious a crime cutting Old Growth is, RCMP choppers circled overhead: $2,500 an hour spent to bully citizens, kilometres from active logging. The audio intrusion will remain in the soundtrack. Very Apocalypse Now. Scene 3: A Moment of Reconciliation. Location: Ada-Itsx The days are long and sweet in Fairy Creek, with many chance meetings, and moments of sorrow and joy. On the way back, we attended a Red Dress ceremony led by Granny Rose to honour the 1,000+ indigenous women missing in Canada, many along BC’s Highway of Tears. Then, with true reconciliation in our hearts, we staggered back into camp at sunset to plan the next day’s shoot—a hard blockade. Red Dress Ceremony (YC photo) Scene 4: Hard Times at a Hard Blockade. Location: Road to 2,000 Camp and Waterfall Camp A hard blockade is where defenders dig holes in an access road, and glue their legs in with concrete. They are used because the exclusion zones prevent bussing in thousands of citizens. While our government spews out weekly “talk and log” announcements, and NGOs gather signatures for petitions no one will read, the hard blockaders are saving trees. At 4 in the morning the arrestee group and film crew gathered to begin the 9-kilometre bushwhack through dark forest to evade the exclusion zone. But something snapped inside each of us. We decided to stop playing their game, and start taking back our Charter rights of free assembly. We snatched a few hours of sleep, and drove to the police road block around 9:00 am. Script Change: “We decide to break the illegal exclusion line instead.” Led by Indigenous defenders Rainbow Eyes and Lady Chainsaw, 20 citizens advanced on the RCMP’s “thin blue line,” like a lapping tide, in waves. The officers looked at each other, in growing doubt. The RCMP line broke like a bad dream. Mist, in red, with Lady Chainsaw (RFS photo) Pushing Lady Chainsaw’s wheelchair around the police vehicles, we hiked five kilometres in to the next zone, where a group of reinforcements stood lined up like tin soldiers. Undeterred, Christoph, whom you met in Diary 4, stepped forward. In all, 13 were carted off into paddy wagons, held for four hours, and released without charge. We call this “Catch and Release.” Catch and release is another unreasonable abuse of discretionary police privilege; in this case to apprehend a suspect, and release them if charges will not stick. Deliberate catch and release takes away our Charter right to talk to a judge and go to jail for our beliefs. None of us got charged, but Scott got footage for his film, and best of all, later on, a hard blockader from nearby Waterfall Camp told me: “They were slamming us, dropping out of choppers with quads, using diamond grinders on our wrist chains, and all of a sudden half of them disappeared. We knew something was up. Thanks.” Title Suggestion: The Death and Rebirth of Civil Liberties in Canada We’re losing this War to Save the Woods because false arrest and illegal exclusion zones have made traditional civil disobedience obsolete. The RCMP tactics are clever, but they are totally illegal. Forest defenders describe TFL 46 as a police state. In a few short weeks, our purpose has changed from saving trees, to saving democracy. The mainstream media are just recycling Orwellian press releases. The plan to stop cutting old growth is to cut it all down, so there’s none left to cut. No wonder the public are confused. Rainforest Flying Squad (R4FS), and an ecosystem of citizen’s groups including Elders For Ancient Trees, are launching multiple legal actions to challenge false arrest and the illegal exclusion zones. Please keep giving to the R4FS Go Fund Me page, because class action civil liberties suits are expensive. We’re taking our Premier to court, so he will give us back our Charter rights to go to jail. When civil disobedience is restored, hopefully there will still be some old growth trees left to save, and we’ll be able to go in front of Justice Verhoeven again. I’m suggesting we use the following defence: “Please sentence me to 100 hours of community service, like they got at Clayoquot. I’d like to do my community service with an organization that is actively working to reduce the 65 million tonnes a year of CO2 emissions caused by clearcutting! They’re protecting biodiversity and democracy! They’re called The Rainforest Flying Squad.” People ask me where I get these ideas. Credit where due. It came to me standing in a rainforest, with a chopper idling in the background. Titania, the Mother Tree, whispered it in my ear. Yellow Cedar is a Vancouver Island-based writer.
  6. LAST NIGHT I RETURNED TO FAIRY CREEK from my home “outside,” where I am blessed to live in a forest. A friend had come to visit on his birthday, and we walked the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island. “Outside” I swam back upstream here like a salmon through a river of tourists eager to soak up some sun and unwind after a year of COVID. And then I headed back to Ada-Itsx/Fairy Creek. Not 30 minutes after I drove my car a quarter mile up Granite Main, past the sign “You are entering TFL 46,” parked at the gate to “HQ,” and was sitting around the watch fire, the soft summer night was shattered by screams and broken glass. I was back “inside.” On my way in, I had passed three cars, pulled to the side of the road, people bedding down for the night, walking their dogs, exchanging a few words. A half-hour later, an angry mob swept up and destroyed the rustic intake booth, and stoned their cars, with them inside. The occupants came running and driving up the road for shelter, windshields and faith in humanity shattered. Smashed windows of forest defender’s car. I couldn’t help but think of Kristallnacht. You on the outside will surely say “tut tut, that was different.” Nobody was killed last night, but here on the inside, it doesn’t feel very different. We live in a province with a leader consolidating his power by exterminating an ecosystem, using a paramilitary tactical squad to enforce “law and order,” and benefitting from mob violence. And the fear in the eyes of the victims is the same. Come down here and look in their eyes. The vulnerability, the violation, are exactly the same. On the outside, you can wake up this morning with a reasonable expectation of a cup of coffee, greeting your friends and family, and doing your job. The police will not rappel down from helicopters into your back yard and threaten to punch you in the face. You won’t awake to find your car towed down a logging road and have its tires slashed. You can sleep in peace. On the inside, it’s different. If you think I’m overreacting, what do you want me to say to this young man, in his bare feet and pyjamas, voice trembling—“and they threw stones right into my car,” broken glass all around his feet? He came here to protect some trees. Who will protect him? How far is this going to go? Who are we as a people? This will go unnoticed. Mainstream media won’t print this story. Here on the inside, we’ll pick up the pieces, and get on with our day. We’ll try and comfort the afflicted, and pass the hat to help them fix their cars. We reported three assaults with property damage, and were routed to North Island dispatch, who said we’d get a call. No call came. We won’t waste our time on the RCMP. We know they’ll say it was a “random act of violence,” and that “they don’t have the resources.” Germania with her damaged vehicle, Ada-Itsx/Fairy Creek How do we deal with this? All I can think of is to ask groups of people from the city who feel protected by whatever privilege they have to come down every night and camp at the junction of Granite Main, and when the mob shows up next time, use your connections to see that justice is done. For me, I’ll carry on believing that John Horgan has a lot to answer for here. Hopefully my next post will be a bit more cheerful. I meant to tell you about a group of biologists walking a sacred valley to find endangered birds, by coaxing them with their own calls. I meant to tell you how I walked amongst some 2,000 year old yellow cedars on my own little pilgrimage. We’ll see how it goes. Yellow Cedar is a Vancouver Island-based writer. Read his earlier entries about getting back to the garden (thank you Joni M), his arrest (“Six Hours in Paddy Wagon”), the targeting of First Nations youths by the RCMP, and why he is willing to be arrested (“25 Species Will Go Extinct Today”).
  7. I CAME UPON A CHILD OF GOD, he was walking along the road And I asked him, “Where are you going?” and this he told me I’m going on down to Fairy Creek, I’m gonna try and save some trees I’m gonna camp out on the land, I’m gonna try and get my soul free (Stanzas in italics are from Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” about the 1969 Woodstock Festival.) My Vancouver friend Christoph wants to bring some of his friends up to (Ada-Itsx) Fairy Creek. Could I give him the lay of the land? “How can I contribute? What should I bring?” He likes to cook warm meals in the woods, so I suggested he pack his cooking gear, and hike a few hours past the headwaters, through the 2,000-year-old yellow cedars, to Ridge Camp, which blocks the logging road from punching into Fairy Creek watershed. If our old growth is protected, what’s the road for? While politicians chatter, the RCMP showed up yesterday with 37 SWAT team commandoes, using diamond saws to cut chains, and a backhoe to dig people out of concrete and rebar reinforced “sleeping dragons.” Imagine a backhoe blade smacking the earth three inches from your face! Yet every night, new blockaders slip back in from the forest and chain themselves back in. They’re living on ramen and granola bars, so I suggested if Chris made them a warm, savoury stew, it would go down very well. His cookware and skills will be appreciated. But he could show up empty handed and still be welcome. The only thing you need to bring is your self. We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden The Pacheedaht Council, by the way, encourages peaceful protest, outside the injunction zone of 50 metres from active logging. The Council’s statement was required to fulfill their obligations under a colonial “hush money” contract they signed to get at least $300,000 for the destruction of their ancestral forest. That’s all they’ll receive from the conservatively-estimated $400,000,000 street value of TFL 46. A bag of beads and a keg of whiskey all over again. If you want to know more about colonialism at Fairy Creek, please read this. Indigenous leaders invite you to stand by them and the trees at Ada-Itsx. Meanwhile, at Ada-itsx people are building true reconciliation with our bare hands and our hearts, inspired by the leadership of Pacheedahts Kati George-Jim, Granny Rose, and elder Bill Jones. Bill was the first to invite us to come up to the woods. I love Bill. In my life, he has become my father, and my grandfather. He is a quiet man, but people ask him to talk, because he comes out with wisdom like this: “You don’t go up to the forest to cut it down, you go up to ask the Great Mother what she wants you to do.” “Camping on the land” is back on. And getting our souls free. Then can I walk beside you? I have come here to lose the smog, and I feel to be a cog in something turning Well maybe it is just the time of year, or maybe it’s the time of man I don’t know who I am, but you know life is for learning Walking to Waterfall Camp in June (photo by Alex Harris) “Walking beside each other” is my favourite part of Fairy Creek. Eyes sparkle. Stories tumble out. Friendships are made and sealed in a moment. Although you can, you don’t need to come to Fairy Creek to spend a week in a tree like Panda and Hummingbird, who were inspired by Julia Butterfly Hill, who sat for two years in a California Redwood she named “Luna.” Just come to Fairy Creek Blockade HQ, now on Google Maps, at Pacific Marine Road and Granite Main, near Port Renfrew, and it will all start for you. Yesterday I met Toucan and her family. Toucan is a “camp name.” Toucan’s sister couldn’t think of another rainforest bird, so she called herself “One-Can.” That, of course, left Mom with “Three-Can.” This lovely family have flocked to Fairy Creek, like planetary T-cells, to help heal a wound. We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden They were mulling over getting arrested. I set them at ease. The RCMP will inform you if you are breaking a law, and give you the opportunity to step back. They actually don’t want to arrest people, because if 1,000 people go to jail, the trees win. The only place you risk arrest is within 50 metres of active logging, or machinery, which would place you in violation of Justice Verhoeven’s injunction. And that’s a choice you can make when you get here. You don’t need to get arrested to stand with the forest defenders and trees. “Cookie” is a beautiful soul in her 70s, who came to camp for three days. She says “I like feeding people.” That was 5 months ago. Toucan was feeling pretty courageous about the whole arrest thing. “I’m nine years old, what can they do to me?” No one knows yet, but I think we’re about to find out! One-Can, at 14, was a little more cautious. Could she get her first job with a criminal record? Filmmaker “Egg” reminded her that committing civil disobedience is a civil offence, not criminal, and suggested “it will look good on your resume for Harvard.” “The RCMP might tack on a criminal “public mischief” charge, but Justice Verhoeven will dismiss that as mischievous. Always practice non-violence. Satyagraha is “holding firmly to the power of truth.” If you get in a situation, just think, what would Gandhi do? You’ll be fine. Three-Can was quietly mulling all this over in her own way. I think she was wondering why her government would send an RCMP SWAT team to chuck her children in jail for hugging a tree. The situation is pretty weird! A lot to think about. Western Trillium in Fairy Creek area forest, early June (photo by Alex Harris) And that, to me, is the gift waiting for us at Fairy Creek, the soul searching. What is our relationship with our planet? What is our relationship with our government? How can we help? What am I ready to do, today? As we think these thoughts, and make our choices, we change inside. In fact, we start to become the change that we want to see. And we are not alone! By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong And everywhere there was song and celebration And I dreamed I saw the bombers, riding shotgun in the sky And they were turning into butterflies, above our nation Human history lurches forward in fits and starts, as good ideas percolate up into people’s consciousness. Bruce Cockburn lamented “Why does history take such a long long time?” But when a threshold number of us catch fire, change just suddenly happens overnight, like bamboo shooting up 90 feet in five weeks after germinating underground for five years. Today, we are ready. Today, in our time, at Fairy Creek, Ada-itsx, the dam is breaking. The arrow is leaving the bow. Fairy Creek is no longer just a watershed of Old Growth trees, it is our moment to build reconciliation between forests, oceans, the clouds that join them, First Nations, their land, and all the people from around the world who have settled here. Bill Jones says “when you go into nature, let her enter you.” At Fairy Creek, we’re settling into the land, and she into us. The most difficult reconciliation is that with our government. Our democracy has lost its way, and we are taking it by the hand and leading it back to wisdom. We are stardust, billion year old carbon. We are golden, caught in the devil’s bargain And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden Joni is so amazing. If Bill is my father, she is my mother. In 1969, she intuitively grasped the significance of carbon, and that we are carbon. Then she rhymed it with garden. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I don’t think so. And even if you can’t come to Fairy Creek right now, imagine this—Joni Mitchell didn’t actually get to Woodstock, she wrote the song after chatting with her boyfriend Graham Nash, who sang there. Even if you can’t make it physically, you can be here, now. Fairy Creek valley, June 2021 (photo by Alex Harris) Yellow Cedar is a Vancouver Island-based writer. Read his earlier entries about his arrest ("Six Hours in Paddy Wagon"), the targeting of First Nations youths by the RCMP, and why he is willing to be arrested ("25 Species Will Go Extinct Today").
  8. Hi Alistair, my next next post will be a primer on how to "come on down", after I profile two tree sitters. Thanks. JH has no intention of calling a ceasefire to create a peaceful environment for rational discussion. We aren't leaving until we get legislation banning the cutting of any old growth. It won't be over for a while. The police weirdness is settling a bit, as they realise we have resources and backup. 1,500 people came out for the day last Saturday! Not enough paddy wagons in BC for that. Every person I have talked to here has found it a deeply moving, personal experience. Lots of friends to make, and conversations to have. It is a special time. I like your fearless attitude! We have a circle each night to meet up, chat, pat the dogs, and listen to speakers who drop by. Enjoy!
  9. Hi Alistair, my next next post will be a primer on how to "come on down", after I profile two tree sitters. Thanks. JH has no intention of calling a ceasefire to create a peaceful environment for rational discussion. We aren't leaving until we get legislation banning the cutting of any old growth. It won't be over for a while. The police weirdness is settling a bit, as they realise we have resources and backup. 1,500 people came out for the day last Saturday! Not enough paddy wagons in BC for that. Every person I have talked to here has found it a deeply moving, personal experience. Lots of friends to make, and conversations to have. It is a special time. I like your fearless attitude! We have a circle each night to meet up, chat, pat the dogs, and listen to speakers who drop by. Enjoy!
  10. For his absolute betrayal of forests and people, it is time for the electorate to clearcut John Horgan's political career. We'll leave standing the two of his clan who have resisted him, to help re-seed for the future. That's the only way to teach the man just how long clearcuts take to grow back.
  11. Dear Old Human, thank you! Thoughtful is me, and thoughtful is FOCUSmagazine. See you there.
  12. UP AT FAIRY CREEK, known to the Pacheedaht as Ada’itsx, while trying to protect the forest, I find myself bearing witness to the current relationship between Indigenous peoples and our mainstream society. I would like to put some thoughts on your table to help us toward reconciliation. As I file this story, news of the discovered bodies of 215 First Nations children at the residential school in Kamloops is breaking hearts across our nation. If we wish to make peace, we have a long way to go, and must acknowledge that racism in Canada is not all in the past. I hear many of my white middle class family saying: “I feel constrained to come to Fairy Creek because Indigenous people don’t want us there.” I celebrate the soul searching, but people’s good intentions are being manipulated by a “divide and conquer” strategy, an example of which is a letter published by the elected Pacheedaht Council saying we are unwelcome. This letter has been traced back to a request from the Premier’s office for the Council to fulfill their contractual obligations not to interfere with the destruction of their forest heritage, for some cash. Why were they placed in this position? True reconciliation will begin when First Nations get what they have never had in BC: a percentage of the profits from resource extraction, veto power over projects in their territories, and first dibs on the jobs in their communities. Instead, Premier John Horgan, in his new “Modernizing Forest Policy” document, inverts reality by using First Nations as a human shield and blaming them for his job-killing, ecosystem-killing forest policies; by saying he can’t protect old growth or stop clearcutting without consulting First Nations. Sierra Club BC summarized it as “Orwellian” and “talk and log.” Horgan’s “Old Growth Protection Strategy” is a bald lie, as bald as the hillsides of BC. John Horgan’s Old Growth Protection Plan at work near Caycuse (photo by Dawna Mueller) The issues confuse most people, because most Canadians don’t know that hereditary chiefs have traditional control over what happens in their territories, but elected chiefs—a construct of the Indian Act of 1876—have control over what happens on reserves and the cash flow from government. Industry and government throw money at the elected chiefs to get them to sign off on mines, pipelines and clearcutting, but these activities generally take place outside the reserves, in the territories, which should require sign-off from hereditary chiefs. When the Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs signed off on the pipeline, and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs blockaded it, John Horgan refused to dialogue, and used the RCMP to smash their resistance. First Nations are not a couple of elected chiefs. First Nations are a people. And with all his talk about consultation, the premier has rejected calls to sit down and talk with Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones at Fairy Creek. So, on Saturday, May 29, at Waterfall Camp, Pacheedaht leaders Grannie Rose, Kati George-Jim, and Bill Jones brought Victor Peters, whom Jones says is the true hereditary chief of Pacheedaht First Nation, to the police line which denies Pacheedaht citizens access to Waterfall Camp, and declared: “I ask you, police man, to escort my chief to where he needs to go—these territories. He needs access to his lands to care for the old growth. You’ve been draining this territory for 200 years. You have cut all our timber with no remorse. You are invaders. I say to you: Clear the way, to escort my chief.” Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones speaks with RCMP near Waterfall Camp Jones was calling out the RCMP, and John Horgan who sent them, but all around him in the forest, and down in River Camp, 1,500 people, mostly settlers, had come to Fairy Creek in support, to stand with the “tall standing ones” and our First Nations. Bill wrote this invitation, which you can read here. Please read it. It is short, eloquent, and moving. It begins with an exhortation to walk in the woods, and it ends with an exhortation to walk in the woods. You are invited. If you come down to Fairy Creek, you don’t need to get arrested. Come to build relationships with First Nations people, support them, and listen to their teachings. That evening at the 7:00 pm welcome circle at HQ below River Camp, Rueben George (grandson of Chief Dan George), spoke. He is Sacred Trust Manager of the Tsleil Waututh Nation. He urged us to build relationships between ourselves and the land. He told us how he buried the placenta that nourished each of his children in the womb, near their home, and planted a tree over it, so they could come home any time in their lives, to find their roots. Rueben George of Tsleil Waututh Nation I was born in Toronto, raised my children in Guelph, and my daughter lives in the Yukon. Rueben’s words uncovered for me a great sense of loss—that I have no generational connection to place. Our bodies have settled here, but not our souls. But Rueben invited us to join with the land wherever we live, and shared his traditional knowledge of how trees talk to each other and support each other in times of need. He called this a reciprocal relationship. He pointed up to the ridge line of Fairy Creek, and told us that every gift of love we give the land, will give us so much love and strength back. I know this is true, because I have felt it at Fairy Creek. One night around the camp fire I observed how committed everyone was to non-violence. “This has gone up a level from just non-violence—everyone’s hearts are full of Peace.” We puzzled over the mystery of this, until someone said: “I think it is seeping up out of the ground, from the trees.” LIKE MANY, I CRIED TEARS OF JOY watching the BC Legislature sign UNDRIP into law. Maybe humanity was moving forward! A month later, Premier John Horgan’s government created the RCMP Community Industry Response Group (CIRG), a tactical squad, who are authorized to use “lethal oversight” to crush community resistance to industrial resource extraction. UNDRIP was just a photo-op for Mr Horgan. Regular detachment RCMP officers are required to enforce laws as neutrals, without interference from politicians. That is why the civil disobedience at Clayoquot Summer was a relatively “civil” affair. When officers are collected from all over the province into a CIRG, by declaration of a “provincial emergency,” their mandate pits them against communities, on the side of industry. The RCMP have enough trouble with systemic racism, but initiatives like CIRG destroy any credibility they have left. Because where do we do all our resource extraction? First Nations unceded territories. RCMP officers face Indigenous warrior matriarchs at Caycuse (photo by Arvin Singh Dang/ @arvinoutside) This same CIRG group is now at Fairy Creek, using illegal “exclusion zones” that are being challenged by the Canadian Association of Journalists, and false arrest practices that have outraged the BC Civil Liberties Association. They are even turning away biologists documenting endangered species at Fairy Creek, claiming “public safety” as an excuse. While a small minority of the logging community have slashed tires and assaulted First Nations youth, the constant stream of violent, racially-fuelled behaviour from the RCMP is more appalling. I went to Fairy Creek to save trees, but I’ve spent most of my time intervening between First Nations youth and cops. I watched a peaceful young woman, a minor, manhandled so harshly that her shirt ripped open, exposing her breasts to 30 armed male police. Her arrest was unlawful, and the assault on her dignity unnecessary. When she asked “Who are you serving?” they slammed the steel paddy wagon door in her face. I have dug deep to try and understand this behaviour. It is tactically foolish and morally wrong. As a sports coach, I am good at uncovering motivation, but I simply couldn’t understand it until I sat down to write this column. The police didn’t touch the 100 white elders who came down last week. And they were civil while they arrested me. Yet they are repeatedly singling out First Nations for violence. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. First Nations and other marginalized youth don’t have the resources to shadow box with some “complaint commission,” which they know will side with police. Their experience is grounded in the knowledge that Chantel Moore was one of three Tla-o-qui-aht youth from her small village who have been shot to death by police or died in police custody in the last year. Less than 200 population, 3 children dead in separate incidents, one year. This is not random. After the arrests, I said to one young man with quite dark skin, “This is why the RCMP have lost everyone’s faith.” He replied calmly, “This is why they are so hated.” There was no hatred in his voice, just an acceptance of the reality of his life: “Don’t let the cops get you alone.” But reconciliation is being practised at Fairy Creek, by the forest defenders. The Rainforest Flying Squad Legal Support Team is painstakingly documenting dozens of police violations, including “racist, trans or queer-phobic, or misogynistic incidents.” These will be presented to Justice Verhoeven to ask for his help in restraining police while they enforce his injunction, and used to support legal challenges and official complaint procedures. As well, realizing Indigenous peoples need to have control over their own resources, the forest defenders have started a separate GoFundMe page to prioritize protection of First Nation youth from targeted RCMP activity, and give First Nations resources to free them from what Bill Jones describes as “predatory lending and predatory agreements that have shackled his people with unsupportable debt, impoverished his people, and destroyed the forest they consider to be their mother.” The rest of us can accept their invitation and that of Elder Bill Jones to come to Fairy Creek to try and shield the forest and our youth from violence. Myself, I have chosen to go to jail because our leadership has failed us and we have no time to waste. When elected leaders make mistakes, we must listen instead to the voice inside us which knows right from wrong. We are all Indigenous to this planet. We are all family. One more thought on building healthy relationships between our cultures. Some people are uncomfortable with the term “settler.” Being uncomfortable with a term is a good sign. It means we are learning something new. “Settler” is not meant as a pejorative, but simply as an identifier, to bring clarity, to enable dialogue. Here is why the term makes sense to me. Indigenous peoples live for a long time in fixed territories. To regulate their relationships with their neighbours, they greet each other at the boundary. Let me demonstrate, with my own statement. “Hi, my name is Yellow Cedar. My Scottish ancestors came here when the English banned our culture and language, massacred us with superior technology, burned our crofts, and put the survivors on boats for Canada. Needing a place to live, we settled in your territories, for which we are grateful. “In this time of emergency, I respectfully enter Pacheedaht Territory, invited by Elder Bill Jones, to help protect both the forest and people, whom I consider my family, from irreparable harm done by corporations and governments beyond both of our control.” Bringing a gift is a traditional greeting when entering a territory. At Fairy Creek, the gift to bring is your self. True reconciliation is born in people’s hearts, one by one. How can we build this if we are isolated from each other? Rainbow Eyes, the first on the Fairy Creek blockades to be arrested (photo by Dawna Mueller) Rainbow Eyes was the first to be arrested. You can see in her eyes that she knows what she is up against, but also the depth of her resolve. Will you come down to Fairy Creek to stand with her, laugh and cry with her, learn from her leadership, and help protect her from violence? Yellow Cedar is a writer based on Canada’s West Coast. See his earlier entries, including about his first arrest, here and here.
  13. Humans need leadership. Bill Jones is one of our great elders. Listening to his teachings is like drinking water. I love that his invitation to come and join with our family members in Ada'itsx (Fairy Creek) begins and ends with the exhortation to: Walk in the Woods.
  14. I'm sorry to say, that citizens don't have the time, or the faith in the process. I wanted to walk right back in to the detachment and report my abduction by a gang. What we need to be able to do, is lay criminal charges, like assault. Canada doesn't have that option. That was my anguish: "Who ya gonna call?"
  15. I'm sorry to say, that citizens don't have the time, or the faith in the process. I wanted to walk right back in to the detachment and report my abduction by a gang. What we need to be able to do, is lay criminal charges, like assault. Canada doesn't have that option. That was my anguish: "Who ya gonna call?"
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