Land Defenders and old growth forests at high risk as Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) becomes the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history

Wednesday September 08, 2021

Iconic old growth giants could be logged this week as RCMP violently arrest forest defenders

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) — This week, the old growth forest defense at Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) became the largest act of civil disobedience in the country’s history: as of September 6, RCMP have made 866 arrests while enforcing an injunction granted to logging company Teal Jones. The threshold was previously set during the War of the Woods at Clayoquot Sound in the early 1990s.

“My grandfather said we have to keep the old growth standing,” said Elder Bill Jones. “I’m there, and my guests too are there to be stewards and wardens, to protect the area, to protect our Great Mother.”

Forest defenders continue to face dangerous police violence as they protect some of the few remaining old growth forests left anywhere in the province, including iconic giants like Grandfather Tree [photos below/attached]. Grandfather Tree is one of several well-known, ancient giants sheltering an area near one blockade at Ada’itsx. RCMP have aggressively removed forest defenders to enable industry access to these ancient groves. Forest defenders have warned that Grandfather Tree could be cut down this week if RCMP continue to make arrests.

Indigenous land defenders and their allies have warned of worsening, and at times life-threatening tactics by police in order to grant industry access to old growth forests. The movement to protect iconic old growth giants like Grandfather Tree, which are pillars of rare old growth forest ecosystems, is rooted in the overarching struggle to recognize Indigenous sovereignty and rights.

“Do you see the beauty that surrounds us—centred around our ancient rainforests?” said Land Defender Rainbow Eyes, “The next step is then to see the destruction we are inflicting on this great beauty and against humanity.”

This milestone comes almost one year after the B.C. NDP government released an old growth report and committed to implementing its recommendations, including immediate logging deferrals in old growth forests like those at Ada’itsx and the full involvement of Indigenous Nations in long-term decision-making. Despite these commitments and recent calls by Indigenous leaders to protect Elder Trees, the majority of at-risk old growth forests remain open to logging.

“I was arrested in 1993 at Clayoquot Sound, after spending many months living in a clearcut and coordinating blockades. It is unconscionable that nearly 30 years later, people are still being arrested en masse for trying to stop logging in the last of these ancient forests,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth. “Premier Horgan and the B.C. NDP government must honour their promises and immediately stop logging these rare, at-risk old growth forests before more people are hurt trying to protect them.”

Stand.earth condemns police violence against forest defenders and is demanding the provincial government implement deferrals to stop logging in remaining rare, at-risk old growth forests, and to immediately rescind RCMP from Ada’itsx.

Images credit: Aaron Yukich

Grandfather TreeGrandfather tree Fairy Creek