Tzeporah Berman arrested at Fairy Creek today

Saturday May 22, 2021

Over 20 people have been arrested while defending old growth forests this week on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Territories

Unceded Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Territories (Fairy Creek and Caycuse Watersheds, Vancouver Island, BC) — Today, Tzeporah Berman — Stand.earth International Programs Director — was among the people arrested for defending old growth forests on unceded Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Territories. She was reportedly arrested at the Waterfall Camp shortly before noon near Fairy Creek HQ, where a logging company has been prevented from road building and logging activity for over eight months in one of the last stands of big, old growth forest in British Columbia. RCMP are reportedly extracting another forest defender using jackhammers.

In a statement taken the night of Friday, May 20, Berman said:

I’m currently standing at Waterfall Camp, where people are blocking logging and protecting HQ. The exclusions are far beyond what is safe and what is constitutional. We have a right to protest and a right to free speech. Both those who are here to support citizens taking a stand, as well as the media, should be allowed at all times right up to the blockade to ensure peoples’ safety. The RCMP blockades are numerous, arbitrary, and they’re putting people’s safety and comfort at risk.”

Over 20 people have been arrested in the last week, mainly in the Caycuse watershed on Ditidaht territory. Among those arrested was xʷ is xʷ čaa, Kati George-Jim, niece of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, who was violently detained by RCMP while attending as a legal observer. In a video, she called out the unsafe conditions onsite as logging recommenced with tree sitters still occupying nearby old growth trees, saying:

“There are active trees being fallen as of 10:30am this morning… somebody was almost hit by a tree. The tree sitters’ lives are at risk. The people on the ground as legal observers are at risk. The only journalist that could have documented all this has been arrested.”

Reports from the frontlines indicate that RCMP are preventing access to accredited media and legal observers, as well as Indigenous leaders on their own lands. Victor Peter, Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief; Patrick Victor Jones, Queesto family, of Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Nations; and Aya Clappis, from Huu-ay-aht Nation on assignment for Ha-Shilth-Sa (Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council newspaper) and Briarpatch Magazine all reported being denied access by police. Peter said:

“I’m here to protect my own territory, and I’m being denied access to my own land.” 

Premier John Horgan and the B.C. NDP government have previously committed to implementing all 14 recommendations from an expert old growth panel, including immediate logging deferrals in at-risk old growth. Escalating police violence and arrests of forest defenders come the same week that a group of independent BC scientists released new maps showing Fairy Creek and Caycuse watersheds as among the 2.6 percent of the forested landbase that meets the old growth panel’s criteria for immediate deferrals. Most of these forests are still unprotected and open to logging.

Stand.earth is calling for Premier John Horgan and Forests Minister Katrine Conroy to act immediately to put in place logging deferrals in the area to reduce tensions and the threat of violence or injury, and keep old growth forests standing while the province undertakes a paradigm shift for forestry rooted in Indigenous rights and consent, ecological values, and community stability.

Footage available here, to be updated as it becomes available.

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Media contacts: 

Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager, canmedia@stand.earth
Tegan Hansen, Forest Campaigner, tegan@stand.earth