* Guest blogger Liz Sparkes is an environmental science student and nature advocate from Vancouver Island.

Jump to the ways you can take action for the forest and the land defenders by clicking here.

With over 1,000 arrests, the Fairy Creek/Ada’itsx blockades on Southern Vancouver Island are now the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. As the efforts to protect the precious few last stands of old growth forest from logging have intensified, so have RCMP enforcement tactics. Land defenders are faced with a difficult choice: stand aside and allow industry to wipe out the irreplaceable ecosystem they have been protecting for nearly two years, or stay and suffer unrelenting violence at the hands of police. At the time of writing, more than 150 formal complaints have been filed with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission against the RCMP for their conduct at Fairy Creek.

Shy-Anne Gunville (Strawberry) being arrested at Fairy Creek/Ada’itsx blockades. Photo by Arvin Dang.

Since the BC court of appeal sided with Teal Jones and reinstated a temporary injunction on October 8 2021, police have ramped up their efforts to forcibly remove civilians from the area at all costs. And those costs have been high. From the tax-payer dollars funding the RCMP’s assault on citizen’s legal right to peacefully protest, to the medical expenses incurred by unsafe extraction methods, to the thousands of dollars in civilian property police have intentionally damaged, all the way to the yet to be realized costs of mass biodiversity loss, the BC NDP government will spare no expense while trampling on the rights of Indigenous communities and ignoring the best interests of Canadians in order to cater to industry.

The Rainforest Flying Squad, an Indigenous-led direct action group of volunteers, is the only thing standing in the way as Teal-Jones attempts to log the last stands of globally significant ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island. Speaking to Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones and Tla’amin Elder Rose Henry, the leaders of the movement to protect the ancient forests of Fairy Creek, is simultaneously heartening and heartbreaking. Both are strong, resolute, and optimistic that the trees can be saved and that peaceful nonviolent actions will achieve that end. On the flip side, both have witnessed and experienced aggressive and violent actions at the hands of the RCMP. In fact, the targeting of BIPOC land defenders by the RCMP at Fairy Creek has been documented extensively and was a key element of Justice Thompson’s decision not to extend the injunction. He stated that the RCMP’s “methods of enforcement of the court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree.”

Unfortunately, now that Justice Thompson’s ruling has been stayed, the violence perpetuated by the RCMP has resumed. 

Reports of officers using excessive force, wearing thin blue line patches, utilizing illegal “catch and release” detainments, interfering with legal observers and journalists, and creating illegal exclusion zones have garnered mainstream attention over the past few months. Footage of the RCMP choking, repeatedly pepper spraying, punching, and dragging activists face down over rocks by their hair has shocked and outraged the public. In spite of public outcry and a ruling by Justice Thompson that the actions are unlawful, police have continued brutalizing land protectors and enforcing illegal exclusion zones that prevent media outlets from extensively documenting their behaviour. At this point, nearly every person who has spent time on the front lines of the blockades has dealt with some level of police misconduct. The RCMP’s blatant disregard for the law and the safety of citizens, combined with their gross abuse of power, should deeply concern all Canadians.

Right now, activists are still being violently extracted from the forest to make way for Teal-Jones to cut it down. The plethora of rare and endangered animal and plant species that have been documented in Fairy Creek, such as the marbled murrelet and specklebelly lichen, are being pushed further towards extinction as their habitat is decimated. The irreplaceable ancient mother trees with their complex mycelium networks are being clear cut and turned into roof shingles. The RCMP, whose pensions are invested in TimberWest Forest Corp., are eschewing their core values in favour of shilling for industry.

All of these things are happening because John Horgan refuses to act on the promises he made to protect the remaining old growth forests in British Columbia. Instead, the BC NDP government is sanctioning and imposing colonial resource extraction methods on the unceded land of the Pacheedaht First Nations while allowing police brutality and the erosion of Canadian civil liberties to go unchecked. It is nothing short of outrageous.

Now more than ever, the land defenders need public support before more trees fall.

As the fight to save ancient trees continues on land and in the courtroom, public support to protect old growth is paramount. This irreplaceable ecosystem can still be saved with your help! Backcountry hikers/campers, climbers, tradespeople, cooks, visitor services, logistics staff, and passionate people are encouraged to come join activists in person at the Ada’itsx/Fairy Creek Blockade. It’s a numbers game and the more people exercise their right to peacefully protest, the more we can hold RCMP and government accountable for their actions and inactions. 

Worried about potentially getting arrested? Here’s some educational information.

Directions to Fairy Creek can be found here.

Rideshare options can be found here.

For those unable to peacefully protest in person, consider supporting direct action to save Ada’itsx/Fairy Creek by making a donation to:

  • Support for food, supplies, and legal fees or [email protected] (for e-transfer) or directly at https://paypal.me/LS4F.
  • Current list of supplies and physical donations that are required right now can be found here.
  • Follow independent media accounts on Instagram for on-the-ground updates: @camplandback @arvinoutside @oracogan_photo @aunty.skoden @furryfurrylonglong @shebites_media @collectivemedia_ @kellytatham @colinsmithtakespics @mikegraeme @aunty_rainboweyez
  • Sign petitions: http://bit.ly/FCBallpetitions
  • Check with your local Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, or any other activist group focused on protecting our future and Indigenous sovereignty. If there aren’t any in your area, rally a few friends and start your own!
  • Check this page: http://bit.ly/LS4Fevents

CALL YOUR MLA/JOHN HORGAN EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Old Growth Forests Destruction
Defend Old-Growth Forests

One of Canada’s natural treasures could disappear in 5 to 10 years if we don’t act now. Tell B.C.’s Premier John Horgan to keep his promises and protect old-growth forests immediately.

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