When you read this I might be in jail

This is the last stand for old growth in B.C. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌‌ 

As you read this, I am either on the old growth logging blockades on unceded Ditidaht and Pacheedaht territories on Vancouver Island, or I am in jail.

This won’t be the first time I have protested the logging of old growth rainforests on Vancouver Island. The first time was 27 years ago when as a young 23 year old, I spent many months living in a clearcut coordinating blockades with a local community group in Clayoquot Sound. I was arrested that summer of 1993. 27 years later, ancient giant trees are still falling and forest defenders are again facing arrest on unceded Ditidaht territory – also known as Fairy Creek and Caycuse.

This week independent scientists published maps of the critical old growth forests left in British Columbia that remain under threat and urgently need logging deferrals. The Fairy Creek and Caycuse watersheds are two of these areas. If the B.C. NDP had followed through with their election promise to implement the old growth panel recommendations, there would be no blockade. There would be no arrests.

So from wherever you are, will you help keep the pressure high...

on your MLA? Click here to send a personalized email to your MLA and insist that they share these new deferral maps with the Ministry of Forests.


RCMP arrest a forest defender being carried in a tarp

Sadly, the situation for old growth forests is significantly worse today than it was during the Clayoquot Sound protests in the 1990’s. In the decades since Clayoquot, talk and log policies have dominated the provincial landscape. Now, a fraction of big, old trees are still standing — most of them outside protected areas. As for Fairy Creek, what’s being protected through the current blockades are some of the highest value old growth forests left across the province.

In the face of government inaction, tension is rising – with dangerous consequences. Like everyone in B.C., I was outraged by the blatant anti-Indigenous racism that forest defenders were subjected to in early May in the Walbran. In the past few days, Indigenous land defenders including xʷ is xʷ čaa, Kati George-Jim, niece of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, have been arrested with excessive force and violence in RCMP exclusion zones that have restricted media and legal observer access.

Instead of taking a leadership position and following through on its own promises, the B.C. NDP government has instead ramped up a misinformation campaign and is driving divide and conquer tactics. Some NDP MLAs are even using industry talking points, ostensibly provided by their party, to gaslight constituents who are simply calling on them to fulfill their election promise. But we’ve also heard from several MLAs that public pressure is working on senior levels of government. We need to clamp down and push every MLA to bring these new deferral maps to the Ministry of Forests as evidence that the information is available to implement logging bans right away.

If enough people put the pressure on their MLAs, they’ll be forced to act on their responsibility to represent the concerns of their constituents and champion old growth logging deferrals internally.

There are moments in history where citizens are required to stand up because governments are failing to protect the public good. This is one of those moments. Civil disobedience is a last resort. With old growth giants continuing to fall and a complete lack of leadership from B.C.’s provincial government, we are out of time and out of choices.

What gives me hope is that the movement to protect old growth is growing by the day, and frontline resistance is building across the province. From thousands of phone calls and emails to decision makers, to MLA meetings across the province, to direct action on the blockades and in the streets – everyday people are stepping up and proving just how deeply society cares about this issue. We know senior levels of government are feeling the heat. And we’re confident that if we keep at it, we’ll turn the B.C. NDP’s election promise into real action.

Thank you for taking a stand for these irreplaceable forests.

Tzeporah Berman
International Program

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