Visiting Fairy Creek: A Cortes resident’s impression of the logging blockade

A man wearing black holds up smudging materials that smoke in front of a woman's face in a ceremony at Fairy Creek.
One of the protesters goes through a First Nations cleansing ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Rain4est Flying Squad Facebook page.
Roy Hales - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 12-07-2021

By Roy L Hales

Marine tourism operator Mike Moore is one of the most recent Cortes Island residents to visit Fairy Creek and the logging blockades.

The Fairy Creek blockades began last summer in the southern part of Vancouver Island. The intention of organizers is to "defend old growth forests on unceded Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Territories," according to the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page.

Over the last year, protests have been held across BC (organized by the Rainforest Flying Squad). In response, RCMP have arrested hundreds of people since an injuction began to be enforced this spring.

Moore stopped by Ferry Creek on July 4 during a cruise around the Island.

It has been 25 years since Moore has sailed the west coast of the island. He was shocked by the amount of clear cutting that has been carried out since then: there were no longer any deep green valleys until his boat passed the Broken Islands Group.

"It was really educational to see that contrast. It really lends poignancy to why Fairy Creek and those old growth trees need to be protected, because there is so little of it left," he said.

In Duncan, Moore caught the Community Action Bus to Fairy Creek.

After they reached Cowichan Lake, a truck flying "forests feed our families” flags pulled out in front of the bus and both vehicles slowed down to 30 kph.

He described the "cat and mouse game" that ensued. The truck would immediately move to the centre of the road whenever the bus, or any of the other vehicles in the growing line-up of vehicles behind it, attempted to pass. The bus periodically pulled over to let the rest of the traffic through. The truck waited, then resumed its intimidation tactics when the bus started driving again.

Moore was told this was the first time this had occurred.

“In those situations, it can be very difficult to remain calm and relaxed, and our bus driver did a very good job of that,” he observed.

They skipped a scheduled stop at a giant Sitka Spruce and arrived at Fairy Creek "only a tiny bit late."

A female protester is seen inside police car with officers around.

One of the 393 protesters arrested at Fairy Creek as of July 10, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Rain4est Flying Squad Facebook page.

The camp

Moore was impressed by the size and orderliness of the camp. He walked seven kilometres up a logging road to a place called Rivercamp and was told the protests and interactions with the RCMP were taking place another seven kilometres beyond that.

As a result of the wildfire danger during this hot, dry weather, the main camp moved into a gravel pit. No drugs, alcohol or fires are allowed in that space.

Visitors are met by a welcoming committee. The committee then explains the mission of the blockade: this is not just to save the old first growth cedars up high on the ridges.

“The blockade is about all first growth forest in BC needing to be saved for its genetic diversity, capacity to house ecosystems and sequester carbon. we’ve been at it a long time, we shouldn’t be cutting the principle in the bank account of forest reserve. We should be cutting the interest, the second growth and what we have reinvested into the forestry. It is time to stop first growth forestry,” said Moore.

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