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Leslie Campbell

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  1. Reports filtering out through social media say the RCMP have ramped up tactics against forest defenders. They are using undercover cops, overnight raids and floodlights, and other "abuse"—most happening without any media present. Hoping to get more solid report soon. Meanwhile, read FOCUS new report on media going to BC Supreme Court to challenge RCMP behaviour at Fairy Creek here.
  2. LAST STAND AT THE LEGISLATURE FRIDAY, JUNE 11, NOON Massive Rally Defending Old Growth Forests Planned for BC Legislature Victoria, BC - A broad coalition of elders, protectors of old-growth, defenders of Fairy Creek, academics and determined citizens from across the province are gathering at the BC Legislature lawns Friday, June 11, 12 – 2 pm, to call on Premier John Horgan’s NDP government to ensure all old-growth forests in the province are permanently protected. While the NDP government’s official ratification of the recent announcement by the Pacheedaht, Dididaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations for a 2-year deferral on old-growth logging at Fairy Creek watershed and Central Walbran is an encouraging first step, it falls short of what is needed. Vicky Husband, environmental activist and rally speaker confirms. “Let’s call Premier John Horgan’s sleazy forest policies what they are: a colonial defence of 'talk and log’, and a moral failure to protect the province’s remaining old growth forests. Horgan has sparked a brutal new war in the woods by denying two realities: our forests have been massively over cut for little added value, and we have now come to the long-predicted end of our old-growth forests. It is time for everyone to stand up for Indigenous rights and protection of the seriously endangered remaining old growth forests.” This grassroots coalition under the guidance and wisdom of Pacheedaht Elder, Bill Jones, has declared its intention to advocate for a immediate pause on old growth clear cutting and support the Fairy Creek blockades until all old-growth forests in BC are protected. “I will continue standing for the land until I am dead,” Elder Jones said. “I feel like an old growth tree is worth the same as my life. I implore people to continue to stand with me to protect our forests from destruction and colonialism; we need allies on the ground to stop old growth logging Iinmy home territory, and for my future generations and relatives.” A Press Conference moderated by Saul Arbess, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member, will be held at noon, preceding the rally. The press conference panel will include indigenous voices, forestry researchers and environmental champions. Press Conference Panel: Patrick Jones, nephew of Elder Bill Jones, Pacheedaht Nation Shawna Knight, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member and Tree Sitter Andy McKinnon, Metchosin Cllr., Retired Ecologist, BC Min. of Forests Vicky Husband, Environmental Activist, Member of the Order of Canada Brandi Lancaster- L’alittlilakw of Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw Villages Brianna Bear, of Songhees Nation, will open the rally, following the Press Conference, with a welcome, territorial acknowledgement, and lead a ritual honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently found at the Kamloops Residential ­School. Please wear orange in honour of the children. Rally Co-Ms: Jessica Ostroff, Rainforest Flying Squad Tree Sitter Briony Penn, Environmentalist, Author Kumi Nash, Youth blockader Rainbow Eyes, Rainforest Flying Squad Defender Rally Presenters: Will O’Connell, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member Pablo, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member Gregg McElroy, Canadian Orca Rescue Society Dr. Suzanne Simard, UBC Professor of Forestry, via audio-link Bobby Arbess, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member Rose Henry, Tla’amin Nation Kathy Code, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member Tiffany Joseph, Artist and Environmental Speaker Carol Tootill, Rainforest Flying Squad Core Member This event will be Livestreamed by Jason Guille of Stream of Consciousness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9nVpbLrFuI
  3. Adam Olsen's piece is relevant reading on the government's colonialism played out in the forest agreement, as well as David Broadland's, which shows the amount of "revenue sharing" is pathetic.
  4. From FOCUS photographer Dawna Mueller: Indigenous youth led a march to Waterfall today, breaking through Police barricade and headed up 10km to Waterfall. The march of hundreds was to pay respects to the fallen giants. The ones who have gone before and the ones scheduled to soon fall. VID-20210605-WA0000.mp4
  5. In the Fairy Creek situation, the RCMP are acting under provincial authority, specifically from BC's Solicitor General, though the government is ducking questions around this. It seems to have followed the model carried out in the Wet'suwet'en protest. Here's a link to a letter from Solicitor General Farnworth to the RCMP authorizing the special unit during the Wet'suwet'en blockades: https://bccla.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Letter-Farnworth-to-Strachan.pdf
  6. Dear Not a Hippy: Such "far-fetched ideas" can be found in the BC government's own Old Growth Strategic Review; as well as in highly respected scientists' reports. Both are discussed here. As for the funding, much of it will likely go to legal defence. As Yellow Cedar notes in his recent report: "The Rainforest Flying Squad Legal Support Team is painstakingly documenting dozens of police violations… 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. (You can donate through GoFundMe.)"
  7. This morning, at 7 am, media were directed to go to Honey Moon Bay by the RCMP—a very long way from Waterfall—yet RCMP knew the enforcement was taking place at Waterfall. "Please be advised that regardless of where the enforcement will be taking place on Friday June 4, we are asking journalists who want entry into the access control area to please meet at the March Meadows Golf Club – 10298 South Shore Road, Honeymoon Bay, BC at 9:15 a.m. The MROs will be waiting in the parking area before the road turns to gravel from paved."
  8. RCMP update: As of Wednesday, June 2, 2021 evening, 158 people had been arrested, nine of them more than once. On Thursday, June 3, the RCMP informed media: "Please be advised that regardless of where the enforcement will be taking place on Thursday June 3, we are asking journalist who want entry into the access control area to please meet near Port Renfrew at 9:15 a.m. The MROs [media relations officers] will be waiting in the gravel pull out/parking area approximately 2 kms past Port Renfrew on Pacific Marine Rd (across from the entrance to the Port Renfrew Marina & RV Park). "Once you’ve arrived at the location, it will then be the same process as before, where you will be asked to sign in with identification and contact information, prior to being escorted to a designated into the area where enforcement is expected to take place. Reminder – identification may include ID, business card, or photo ID from your media agency, a letter from your Editor/News Director confirming employment or other proof of media employment. There is limited cell reception at the access control areas, so please print out any letters or proof of employment prior to traveling to the check point. "We will not be able to guarantee access if you do not attend the meet up location on Thursday. If you arrive later in the day and seek entry at an Access Control Point, Media Relations escort will be dependent on availability and the enforcement measures underway. Therefore, there could be delays. "As in the past, due to timing and logistics, these plans may vary. This is a fluid operation, and changes do occur without warning."
  9. Action for—but off-site—Fairy Creek: Stand.Earth is organizing a protest at MLA offices around the province for Thursday June 10. Register here. Other protests have been held around the province already, including on May 30 at the sawmill operated by Teal Jones in Surrey. The BC Green Party is hosting a petition to put pressure on the government to save the last of BC’s old-growth forests. Let us know what else is going on…just post here for FOCUS readers.
  10. I hiked (12k!) through the RCMP's probably-illegal exclusion zone to Waterfall Camp on Saturday, May 29 with 100s of others. There is tremendous support from a wide-range of people for the old-growth blockades. There were 1000s in the area, but virtually no media. My story is at: https://www.focusonvictoria.ca/forests/68/
  11. THANKS TO SOME FRIENDS who invited me to join them, I was one of thousands who headed to Fairy Creek on Saturday, May 29. As a member of the media, I get an email from the RCMP each morning telling me where arrests are expected. My friends were willing to be arrested and I was there to document those arrests. But this morning, the RCMP email, which I received as we travelled to Fairy Creek, noted that no enforcement of the injunction would be happening. No explanation, but we wondered aloud if it was because there were going to be so many people coming out that day to show support for Fairy Creek’s old-growth forest and its defenders. Convoys had been arranged from Victoria and Duncan, and it was a beautiful, warm sunny day. Without the drama of arrests, however, most mainstream media would not show up. No press would be there to witness the large numbers of old-growth defenders willing to be arrested, as occurred on a similar day back in 1993 at Clayoquot Sound, an event that became an icon for the entire summer of civil protest that followed and a visual magnet that drew people from across Canada. The RCMP sidestepped that this weekend. Just past Cowichan Lake, at the community of Mesachie Lake, we saw pro-logging supporters getting ready for their own blockade. Later news reports indicated it drew only a small number of disgruntled loggers from all over the Island. The Cowichan Valley Citizen reported a total of “dozens” coming from “Courtenay, Campbell River, Gold River, Zeballos and Port McNeill.” Despite the low attendance, however, the loggers protest got more media coverage than the reported 2,000 or so who headed to the Fairy Creek area demanding a stop to old-growth logging. When my party of would-be arrestees arrived at Fairy Creek “headquarters,” we were asked to head to Waterfall Camp. Waterfall had been dismantled the previous day by the RCMP, including the removal of a blockader who had been ingeniously suspended at the end of a pole over a deep canyon. This blockade is viewed as a crucial one to re-establish because it guards the entrance to the old-growth forest at the ridge above pristine Fairy Creek Valley. The RCMP have set up a very large “exclusion zone” for this camp. It extends approximately 12 kilometres down a logging road. On our arrival, a dozen or so RCMP were at the entrance to it, doing their own blockading. I am not sure whether it was the sheer numbers of peaceful citizens or Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones telling the police that they were the trespassers and that the “forest defenders are welcome and legal guests on this land,” but everyone was allowed through—on foot only, except for Bill Jones in his vehicle. Supporters of the blockades head up to Waterfall Camp, through the 12-kilometre exclusion zone. It was a long, at times seemingly endless, walk uphill. We passed vast clearcuts on exceedingly steep hillsides that made us long for shade. Huge silvered stumps dating back to the mid-1900s were interspersed among much smaller new stumps. Walking mate Jenny Balke, a professional biologist based on Denman Island, told me this area “was famously and horribly logged from at least the 1970-80s on,” resulting in “many fines etc that went nowhere. So now, at all the reasonable heights, they are clear-cutting for the second time.” The recent second-growth logging illustrates we are not waiting anywhere near the required time to grow big trees. “The only old-growth forestry areas,” noted Balke, “are way high up and far out.” Those are what are being defended (and coveted by industry). Balke herself was willing to be arrested, if not today, some other time. HUNDREDS OF US MADE THE PILGRIMAGE up to Waterfall Camp. All ages and walks of life were present—an elderly gentleman from Gabriola, babies in snugglies. I met at least two families with three generations represented. Susan Stokes, a grandmother and forest industry worker from Chemainus, was with her daughter Patti Johnston and teenage granddaughters Haley and Catherine. Against a backdrop of a clearcut, Stokes said, “This isn’t sustainable forestry.” Susan Stokes, daughter Patti Johnston, granddaughters Catherine and Haley Her granddaughters were passing out a written plea to forest workers. It stated in part: “Don’t blame the people that are trying to save the last remnants of our majestic old-growth forests. Tree farms can never replace these forests. Tree farms have no diversity…Don’t let corrupt government and corporate giants divide us.” They also passed out a sheet with details from the government’s own commission—like the 1,680 species at risk of extinction in BC, more than any other province, and how the key is to conserve the diversity held in old-growth forests, lands that are being mismanaged. There were artists, teachers, retirees, tech workers, health care workers, ecotourism operators marching for hours. Two women acting as legal observers had come from the Okanagan. Lannie Keller, a kayaking lodge owner, joined the protest. Some fellow pilgrims were planning to camp overnight—I didn’t envy them as they lugged up heavy packs. At times a deafeningly-loud helicopter buzzed above us, gathering police “intel” we supposed. Fellow walkers expressed dismay about police resources being spent in such ways. Besides the clearcuts and helicopters, we crossed bridges over beautiful streams cascading down the rugged terrain. The logging roads themselves are a marvel of engineering. I couldn’t help but think of all the tax dollars spent to subsidize this difficult and expensive access for logging—and how few people the logging industry now employs. SOME TURNED BACK before reaching Waterfall Camp, but in my pulse of plodding people alone there were 150 or so that did complete the three-and-a-half-hour hike. Young, old, First Nations, settlers. But no mainstream news media at all. And no RCMP, so no arrests, despite the many who were fully prepared to be arrested. While many dipped their toes or whole bodies in the falls by the road to cool down from the long hot trek, others tried to imagine the camp infrastructure that had been in place—the cantilevered pole with a forest defender precariously dangling over the deep canyon, the pole held in place by a parked car. An excavator had come in Friday, after media had been banished, and removed the courageous young man. I don’t doubt he’ll be back to participate in some way; the people are determined. And they are being shown a lot of love from around the province, if not the world. The logging community knows this. As a woman involved in the aforementioned loggers protest stated on CHEK TV: “Bring in the forces. Bring in the military, clear their asses out. Don’t just…process and release them because they’re going right back.” But the real story of the weekend, despite it not making the news, was not the drama of arrests or angry loggers, but the mind-boggling surge of support from ordinary citizens of all ages and walks of life for old-growth forests and the blockades protecting them: hundreds, perhaps thousands, walking up to Waterfall Camp over the weekend; similar numbers at “Headquarters;” logging roads lined for miles and miles with vehicles and campers. Everyone peaceful, witnessing the massive, ugly clearcuts, and the beauty of the remaining forests, sharing ideas and opinions, dismay and hope. BEFORE WE DESCENDED FROM WATERFALL, those in camp took a minute of silence for the children found at the Kamloops residential school. And then a torn banner, rescued from the rubble, was raised to proclaim the re-establishment of Waterfall Camp. The banner being raised at Waterfront Camp, May 29, 2021 As those of us who needed to return home that evening descended the long, winding road from Waterfall blockade, we passed many more people on their way up. Some would stay the night and help rebuild the blockade that the RCMP had destroyed. Back at the bottom of the road, at the entrance to the exclusion zone, there were throngs of blockade supporters mingling and setting up camp for the evening; lots of good vibes and beautiful smiles. The numbers are overwhelming. I am glad to have witnessed it. My walking mate Jenny said in an email a couple of days later, that she “was very disheartened at the news clip on CBC radio Monday morning: Some protesters broke through police blockade over the weekend…sigh! Rather than: 1000s came to say old-growth logging has to stop!!” Leslie Campbell is the editor of FOCUS. She also visited the blockade camps in early April. That story is here; a related story on the Eden Grove Artist in Residence story is here.
  12. The Community Services/Media Coordinator with the Federal Serious & Organized Crime (FSOC) out of Surrey informed media at 7:49 am today that “today’s planned enforcement of the BC Supreme Court’s injunction order in the Fairy Creek Watershed will take place in the Port Renfrew area. I ask that you meet the media liaisons in the mill’s gravel pull out/parking area approximately 1 km past Port Renfrew on Pacific Marine Road to rendezvous for escort. All interested media should meet at 9:30 a.m.” There media need to sign in with ID prior to being accompanied to a designated media area.” Media are also warned things could change—as they did recently when FOCUS photographer Dawna Mueller showed up as directed, but the RCMP did not—they had gone to Caycuse about 2 hours away. Media are understandably complaining about the lack of access. Even when at the site of arrests, they have been “corralled” far down the road from where arrests take place, making it impossible to document the behaviour of both protestors and police. A coalition of media have filed a court application to limit the powers of police when issuing injunctions.
  13. See the statement by the lawyers of the Rainforest Flying Squad here:
  14. Rainforest Flying Squad sent out these updates for May 27, 2021: Fairy Creek, Pacheedaht Territory: RCMP entered the high side of Fairy Creek today, and arrests are happening right now at Waterfall Camp and for the past six hours or more. Roads could be built into the Fairy Creek headwaters within a few short days, and logging will go very quickly... Waterfall Camp was the first blockade the Rainforest Flying Squad established last year on August 10th, in order to block planned road-building over the ridge and into the pristine Fairy Creek watershed. We are holding Elder Bill Jones in our hearts as the world watches Fairy Creek. Elder Bill has spent time throughout his whole life in this area, which he regards as sacred. We cannot imagine how painful this must be for him, and other Pacheedaht band members who do not agree with logging this area. Fairy Creek watershed is the last unlogged watershed in the San Juan River system. Trees growing on Vancouver Island are among the biggest in the world. Some nearby roads have been de-activated which affects people's ability to travel. Bugaboo is not passable at this time, deactivated about 4 km up from Gordon River Road. We have also heard that industry is digging up the road, putting in big trenches, blocking cars in and closing access. Caycuse, Ditidaht Territory: Photos below of one of the tree-sits, in which two people were staying. And the ongoing destruction now happening in the now-undefended forest at Caycuse. (The photographer prefers to remain anonymous.)
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