Supporters trying to save the last intact old growth forested valley on Vancouver island, the Fairy Creek Watershed, rallied in front of office in Castlegar of the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Katrine Conroy Saturday.
Demonstrators from Fridays For Future West-Kootenay and Extinction Rebellion Nelson along with more than 50 local residents of Castlegar, Grand Forks, Nelson and Slocan valley marched outside the office of the Kootenay West MLA to raise awareness regarding the fight to save and preserve the Fairy Creek Watershed from being clear-cut.
"We live in one of the most important times in history, it is our duty to do what we can to save these trees that have been growing for thousands of years,” said Miguel Pastor, a Grade 11 student, and organizer with the youth-led group Fridays for Future West Kootenay.
This COVID-19-conscious, physically-distanced demonstration was held in solidarity with a growing movement of settler and indigenous blockaders on Southern Vancouver Island.
Fairy Creek is the last intact old growth valley on Vancouver island south of Clayoquot Sound.
The timber is only standing today because of the civil disobedience of thousands of British Columbians in 1993.
The forest of Fairy Creek contains a rare and special intact ecosystem that has evolved around old growth trees for thousands of years, and the blockaders as well as many citizens in BC believe this is of the utmost importance to protect.
Demonstrators said Conroy was elected during last fall’s election on a campaign of promises to honour the 14 recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel.
These recommendations include protecting the most at-risk ancient forests within six months of receiving the report.
Demonstrators said that was seven months ago and believe now is the time for Minister Conroy to honour that promise.
"The continued delay in definitively protecting BC's last remaining old growth is harming people: Forestry workers, Indigenous communities, and everyone who relies on these ancient ecosystems for life and livelihood," said Linn Murray, also with Fridays For Future.
“The need is immediate, so the government must act now."
Saturday demonstrators staged a die-in and in front of the office of Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy in Castlegar. — Submitted photo
The demonstrators said the common consensus people in BC is that ancient forests deserve to be protected and action must be taken now.
Demonstrators said it is well documented that old growth forests play an essential role in preserving biodiversity and mitigating the climate crisis, so our groups are supporting the demands of the brave land protectors in the Fairy Creek Blockades and a wide coalition of Environmental and Indigenous Rights groups.
Both Fridays For Future West-Kootenay and Extinction Rebellion Nelson say they recognize good government work takes time, but that as we speak old growth trees are falling all across BC.
“Because the crisis of old growth loss is so urgent, we ask Minister Conroy to introduce a moratorium on all old growth logging until the government's promised old growth policy is delivered,” said Marion Bergevin of Extinction Rebellion Nelson.
To learn more about the Fairy Creek Blockade demands, or to support their campaign, visit this website.