Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

The dispute over blockades aimed at preventing old-growth trees from being logged in Pacheedaht territory on southwest Vancouver Island has revealed divisions within the First Nation’s membership.

A statement issued by two Pacheedaht chiefs this week says they’re “concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities” in the territory, and decisions about forestry must be made by the nation.

But the Rainforest Flying Squad, whose members set up camp last August to block Teal Cedar Products from accessing proposed cutblocks in and around the Fairy Creek watershed, says they’re not planning to leave.

They say in a statement that Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones and other members of the nation welcome the blockades maintained largely by non-Indigenous people calling for an end to old-growth logging in B.C.

The British Columbia Supreme Court granted Teal Cedar, a division of the Teal-Jones Group, an injunction against the blockades earlier this month.

RELATED: Environmental group calls on province to preserve old-growth forests

RELATED: B.C. suspends some old-growth logging, consults communities

Justice Frits Verhoeven’s judgment notes Jones, who was a defendant in the company’s application, says old-growth forests in the Fairy Creek watershed are essential to his culture and religion, and logging would interfere with this constitutional right to religious freedom.

Premier John Horgan said this week the blockaders should respect the request from Pacheedaht leadership to leave the territory and allow the nation time to make its own decisions about forestry and conservation.

The Pacheedaht do not support “unsolicited involvement or interference by others” in their territory, “including third-party activism,” said the statement from elected chief Jeff Jones and hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones.

RELATED: Vancouver Island residents rally to protect old-growth forests

The nation is developing a resource stewardship plan that will identify special sites to guide forestry activities, they said, and tenure holders have agreed to suspend operations within specific areas in the meantime.

However, in a statement out Tuesday, Bill Jones disputed Frank Queesto Jones’s assertion of hereditary leadership and urged people to continue taking direct action to stop old-growth logging in the territory.

The B.C. government granted Teal Cedar permits last year to cut timber within three areas of its nearly 600-square-kilometre tenure that includes the Fairy Creek area. The company was also granted road building permits and it plans to apply for cutting permits in three additional cutblocks.

Pacheedaht First Nation struck a consultation and revenue-sharing deal with the province in 2017, agreeing not to interfere with provincially permitted logging activities, Verhoeven’s judgment said.

The Rainforest Flying Squad is calling on the province to fund economic alternatives for First Nations reliant on logging that affects old-growth forests.

“Solutions exist where First Nations can make more money long term from ancient forests while leaving them standing,” the group said, citing conservation financing under the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreement.

RELATED: Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

EnvironmentFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo: RCMP
Rossland pedestrian dies after being pinned between 2 vehicles

RCMP Sgt. advises that victim services is available for anyone requiring help

Dani Evans with her brother Alex, 9, and George, her buddy dog (a guide dog for children). Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Visually impaired girl walks for Nelson Friends of the Family

Dani Evans is raising money through the month of May

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Castlegar pharmacies gets additional AstraZeneca vaccines

Several Castlegar pharmacies list appointment openings this week

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Castlegar City Hall. (Photo: Kristen Lawson)
City of Castlegar finance reports for 2020 show revenue losses

Some losses were offset by savings and grants

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

Most Read