June 2, 2021 - No 52

Salute the Courage of Land Defenders on Vancouver Island!

All Out to Defend Rights and Lives!

• "Our Earth, Our Future" March in Victoria
• Waterfall Camp Peacefully Retaken by Land Defenders - Video posted
by Ecologyst

• Protecting Old Growth Forests Is Not a Crime! - Barbara Biley
• hishuk ma cawak (all is connected, everything is one) - Facebook post from a Nuu-chah-nulth youth
• Civil Liberties Group and Legal Observers Condemn RCMP Actions at
Fairy Creek
- BC Civil Liberties Association

Vancouver Public Sector Workers' Stand Against Concessions
• Lively Car Rally to Support the Just Demands of Granville Island Workers
• The Story of Granville Island - Anne Jamieson

Salute the Courage of Land Defenders on Vancouver Island!

All Out to Defend Rights and Lives!

Fairy Creek blockade, May 27, 2021

Journalists and the BC Civil Liberties Association are challenging the police actions violating the rights of hundreds of people at blockades near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Blockades have been set up on access roads to Tree Forest Licence (TFL) 46 where the owner of the licence, the logging company Teal-Jones, is planning to clear-cut an area containing old growth trees in the Fairy Creek area. The people who are protecting the old growth forests accuse the NDP government led by Premier John Horgan of refusing to follow his own election promise.

In 2019 the government commissioned a report on the management of old growth forests in BC which made 14 recommendations, one of which is that the government should "defer development in old growth forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss." The report was made public on September 11, 2020. Ten days later Premier Horgan called a snap election based on the self-serving calculation that the time was ripe for his party to secure a majority. In a deliberate attempt to woo voters concerned about sustainable forestry, he pledged to implement the 14 recommendations, indicating that his government would, indeed, defer development of old growth forests.[1] On one occasion he stated that "Many of our old growth stands are worth more standing up than they ever could be cut down, especially if we take a holistic approach that acknowledges broader benefits for communities and the environment."

The Fairy Creek blockades, coordinated by the Rainforest Flying Squad, were set up last August. The promises to protect the old growth have not been kept. As the months passed with no action from the government to stop the company from proceeding, the blockades have been strengthened. On April 1 Teal-Jones' court application for an injunction to remove the blockades was granted and on May 17 the RCMP began arresting people, including journalists and legal observers.

The RCMP have set up "exclusion zones" even though, as the BC Civil Liberties Association pointed out in an open letter to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, "there is nothing in the injunction that prohibits movement in the area or peaceful protest." As well, instead of telling people engaged in the blockades that they can leave or be arrested, police in many cases have arrested people without warning, including legal observers and journalists. In an incident on May 25 outside Caycuse Camp an observer reported that a contingent of 50 to 60 police started arresting people without warning and that "They were very clearly pushing people out of the way to specifically grab people in legal observer vests and Indigenous youth." Nine Indigenous youth who are a part of the Braided Warriors group were arrested. Many people who were arrested that day weren't planning on being arrested but no one was allowed to leave once the arrests, which lasted up to 11 hours, began to take place. The arrest of journalists and legal observes is clearly intended to hide police actions from Canadians so as to continue to act with impunity. This is what Horgan calls "law and order." His "law and order" violates civil or Charter rights as well as Nuu-chah-nulth law and the human right to be.

The Canadian Association of Journalists, in a statement issued May 26, announced that on May 25 a coalition which includes the CAJ, Ricochet Media, The Narwhal, Capital Daily, Canada's National Observer, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), the Discourse and IndigiNews, had sent a formal letter to the RCMP. Included in their demands are:

- Immediately end the practice of applying exclusion zones to journalists so that they are able to record video and sound, conduct interviews and take photographs at a distance "sufficient to avoid any accidental interference with officers performing their duties."

- Refrain from using physical obstructions that block the view or prevent the media from capturing audio. Do not hold up tarps around arrests, place loud generators between journalists and arrests or position officers to block cameras.

- Allow journalists to move freely on site, not be corralled or forced to move as a group or with a police escort.

- Equipment of journalists must not be seized or otherwise interfered with.

- Immediately cease arresting or detaining journalists within injunction zones for asserting their right to document events.

The people at the camps continue to receive support from communities all over Vancouver Island and throughout the province, through actions at MLA's offices, street protests, material support and convoys that visit to bolster the lines. On May 25 over 75 seniors car-pooled from Victoria to show their support. 

On May 28 more than 800 people, organized by youth from Our Earth, Our Future marched from Premier Horgan's constituency office to the local RCMP detachment in support of the Indigenous youth and elders and all the land defenders at Fairy Creek. Outside the RCMP building they painted a mural on the road with the message "RCMP Off Stolen Land."

(Photos: Fairy Creek Blockade, T. Dance-Bennink)

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Waterfall Camp Peacefully Retaken
by Land Defenders

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Protecting Old Growth Forests Is Not a Crime!

Gathering at Fairy Creek blockade, May 28, 2021.

A large portion of the towering old growth forests in British Columbia have been cut down. The provincial government has done nothing to stop the forest companies from pushing ahead with this activity. Far from it, the government has facilitated clear-cutting, despite all sorts of promises that were made to protect the old growth forests, and has authorized the RCMP to arrest protesters.

Since obtaining a majority government in the election, despite promises made during the election to defer development in old growth forests, Horgan has refused to stop the cutting of old growth trees, leading to many protests across the province. Environmental groups say it's the same old "talk and log" tactic of previous governments. Well over 100,000 people have signed petitions calling for the protection of old growth forests, including an e-petition presented to the House of Commons by Paul Manly, Green MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. One of several current online petitions to the provincial government now has over 94,000 names, increasing daily. For the last few months, especially since April 1, there have been rallies and demonstrations throughout the province in support of the blockades. On May 29 hundreds of people passed through an RCMP blockade to access and reclaim one of the camps. 

Some of the more than 75 seniors who car-pooled two hours from Victoria to support the blockades on May 25, 2021.

Besides breaking an election promise Premier Horgan is justifying the use of the courts and police to secure Teal-Jones' access to log the old growth with the same excuse his government used to justify unleashing the RCMP against the Wet'suwet'en land defenders in January of 2020. According to him, it is a matter of 'law and order.' He justifies his government's inaction on the 14 recommendations on the grounds that it takes time "to get it right on balancing jobs and the environment."

What is at stake here, the underlying problem, is that forestry policy is decided by the monopolies and implemented by successive governments, whether Liberal or NDP. Workers, Indigenous nations, forestry communities and the people of the province as a whole have no say whatsoever but are expected to, year after year, stand back and watch the forest being mowed down in clear-cuts and silently accept the consequences including damage to watersheds, wildlife and the stability of mountainsides, all for the narrow interests and profits of the big forest companies.

As the forest resource is depleted, the forest companies have abandoned any notion of value-added manufacturing and, with few exceptions, have turned their operations on Vancouver Island into harvesting and shipping raw logs to foreign buyers. After profiting for years from BC forests, many companies have moved their manufacturing operations to the U.S. and elsewhere. Teal-Jones itself has built a planer mill in Sumas, Washington and purchased sawmills in Oklahoma and Virginia.

The fight for sustainable forestry in BC and a new direction for the economy based on upholding the hereditary rights of Indigenous nations, meeting the needs of the people, creating jobs, and protecting the environment has been ongoing for decades. Civil disobedience actions such as blockades are actions of resistance to industry and government dictate, an expression of the fact that the government is not doing its duty to uphold the people's right to be and the people have to do it themselves. To criminalize the voice of the people is an act of cowardice because it is not based on the duty of government to create and represent a public opinion but on the imperialist edict that might makes right. Once governments prove themselves incapable of sorting out differences on a peaceful basis and resort to brute force, it is a sure sign that the people have no alternative but to persist in securing their right to have a say in the matters that affect them, in what happens to the forest resource and how to organize the economy so that the hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples and the claims of the forestry communities for a livelihood and the requirements of Mother Earth are served by governments, not sacrificed to serve narrow private aims. 

(Photos: Fairy Creek Blockade)

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hishuk ma cawak
(all is connected, everything is one)

On May 25th (I believe, although days are a blur), I was wrongfully detained by the RCMP District Liaison Team (DLT) Squad sent in to Nuu-chah-nulth territory to enforce an alleged injunction. I have not read this injunction nor has it been read to me anywhere on the hahoulthli (territory). I was detained for six hours before being released at the Lake Cowichan detachment. Approximately 40 people were arrested on Ditidaht hahoulthli (all but four present for a vigil being held roadside for our nisma/land) allegedly to enforce the injunction in accordance with colonial law. I am safe. I am in good spirits. I am ready to dedicate my endless love and iisaak (respect for all) to this struggle for Nuu-chah-nulth sovereignty and liberation. Through my understanding of both Nuu-chah-nulth law and colonial law, I have been able to bear witness to and understand the gross breach of constitutionally protected Charter rights, human rights, and Nuu-chah-nulth rights by the DLT RCMP squad. I am supporting this struggle because our livelihoods, our spirits and our ability to be Quuas (person/native person) is at risk. When our nisma (land) is under attack by colonial forces, many of us (especially our young Quuas) are called to this work. We are carrying on the work of those who came before us. We are asserting our rights and sovereignty with the utmost iisaak (respect for all) and understanding of hishuk ma cawak (all is connected, everything is one). I am committed to uu-ath-luk (taking care of all) on our coast. I am committed to not only speaking our laws, but living them. Our laws are a way of life. They are instructions for how to be human, how to be Quuas. I stand with our Pacheedaht and Ditidaht relatives because that is our way. We stand up for one another. We take care of one another. We also have to take care of those employed by industry. We are not forgetting about our families in forestry. Forestry may feed your family at present, but we need a sustainable way to be able to take care of you all for generations to come. We are fighting for a way to coexist. We are fighting for a way out of the conditions of colonialism imposed on us all. We are fighting for you, not against you as a human being. When one of our nations or any of our people are under attack, we all feel the longing to stand with our families on the coast. It is our way. It is in our DNA as Quuas.

I am not a leader. I am not a protester. I am not just a journalist or an academic ndn. I am not just a mixed tupkuk mutt. I am not just a youth. I am not just a carrier of immense privilege for the life I have had. I am all. I am unapologetically whole. I am just the Aya you all have gotten to know over the course of my 24 years. I will use my strengths, skills and power to do all that I can to make our dreams of freedom from colonial oppression real. Because it will come true. Parts of a decolonized and healthy, happy Quuas world already exists. It lives in our lands, teechmas (hearts), thlimaqstis (spirits), songs, stories and more.

I will never stop speaking the truth. That is our law as Potlatching peoples. I will never stop working towards Nuu-chah-nulth liberation and sovereignty. I will not rest (although, much rest is needed in between highly intense days of arrest and Quuas business) until we are all free. None of us are free until all of us are free.

My spirit will never break because I stand on the truth. I stand on our laws. I stand on everyone who came before me and all of those older and younger than me who have taught me how to be human.

Nisma back/ Land back.

Culture back.

Waters back.

Everything back.

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Civil Liberties Group and Legal Observers
Condemn RCMP Actions at Fairy Creek

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has written to the provincial government and RCMP Commissioner condemning the arbitrary and unlawful RCMP Exclusion Zone in unceded Ditidaht territory. The RCMP have established two checkpoints and roadblocks along the McClure Main and Caycuse Main roads near the Fairy Creek blockade against old-growth logging.

In an open letter to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the BCCLA notes that the RCMP's actions are overbroad in scope and constitute an inconsistent, arbitrary, and illegal exercise of police discretion to block members of the public, including legal observers and the media, from accessing the area. The roadblocks also cut off an important emergency route to the Ditidaht First Nation reserve near Nitinat Lake.

According to BCCLA Staff Counsel Veronica Martisius, "The BCCLA is deeply disturbed by the RCMP exclusion zone near the Fairy Creek blockades on unceded Ditidaht territory. There is nothing in the injunction that prohibits movement in the area or peaceful protest. The RCMP, by their actions, are showing blatant disregard for Indigenous rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This situation is alarmingly reminiscent of what occurred in Wet'suwet'en territories last year."

Legal Observers Victoria have documented a number of RCMP practices designed to prevent the public from witnessing and documenting police actions. The organization has documented RCMP officers using tarps and other coverings to visually conceal arrests from media and legal observers. Legal Observers Victoria have also documented RCMP officers attempting to corral and contain media and legal observers in designated areas where they are unable to document RCMP enforcement. Several journalists and legal observers have been arrested and forcibly removed from the area for attempting to document police actions.

The BCCLA and Legal Observers Victoria demand that the RCMP uphold and respect individuals' right to engage in peaceful protest and not criminalize Indigenous people who are exercising their constitutionally-protected inherent rights. The organizations call on the provincial government and RCMP Commissioner to immediately put an end to RCMP attempts to prohibit Ditidaht people, media, legal observers, and members of the public from accessing the area, including for witnessing and documenting police behavior and reporting on a story of national public interest.

Media Statements

Media statements below represent the views of each individual or organization.

"The RCMP's repeated attempts to shroud their enforcement operations at Fairy Creek in secrecy raised serious public safety concerns from the very beginning. Now, as arrests become increasingly violent and physical, we are seeing exactly why the RCMP is so committed to preventing the public from witnessing their activities. This is the reason that Legal Observers exist -- to create community safety through police accountability. The RCMP's continued hostility towards observers and press is a blatant attempt to avoid taking accountability for their role in ongoing colonial violence towards land defenders, Indigenous communities, and the land itself." -- Keith Cherry, Organizer with Legal Observers Victoria

"As reporters, we need unmediated access to situations of public concern. I myself have been turned away at an RCMP roadblock in contravention of established precedents in Canadian law, while my reporter has been corralled and shepherded around with other media instead of being allowed free access to the site of the arrests. This tight control is unacceptable in a time-sensitive situation where the safety and respect for the rights of all participants is at stake. The RCMP is taking advantage of the remoteness of the location to discourage real-time efforts to cover what's happening. Nobody is fooled when public-facing press releases say one thing while on-the-ground officers do another." -- Jimmy Thomson, Capital Daily

"Journalism cannot happen when journalists are excluded from the area of events they are meant to cover. That should be a simple and uncontroversial statement. Yet, over eight years and at least five situations across the country, police have sought to exclude journalists through the use of broad exclusion zones. The courts, in the Brake precedent, and the RCMP's own oversight body, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, have both found it to be unlawful to use these restrictions to interfere with journalists. When, usually under threat of legal action, the RCMP do allow access, they impose conditions reminiscent of authoritarian regimes: media containment zones, chaperones, and arresting or detaining journalists for the crime of trying to do their job. This is not press freedom. We stand with industry groups like the Canadian Association of Journalists, and international press freedom groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists, in denouncing this overreach of policing power to interfere with the right of journalists to do their job, and most importantly, the right of the public to be well informed on issues of clear public interest." -- Ethan Cox, Ricochet Media

Media Contacts

Keith Cherry, Legal Observers Victoria: keithccherry@gmail.com
Noah Ross, Legal counsel for the Rainforest Flying Squad: noah@noahross.ca
xʷ is xʷ čaa (Kati George Jim): Kgeorgejim@gmail.com
Veronica Martisius, Staff Counsel (Policy), BCCLA: veronica@bccla.og

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wϊ7mesh (Squamish) and Stσ:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. -- May 21, 2021. Photos: Fairy Creek Blockade)

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Vancouver Public Sector Workers' Stand Against Concessions

Lively Car Rally to Support the Just Demands
of Granville Island Workers

Local 20378 of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), BC division, organized a car rally on Sunday, May 23 to support members who work on Granville Island and their bargaining team as they head into more negotiations for a new contract with their employer Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Granville Island is a popular destination in Vancouver for tourists and the public.

"The management team of CMHC has put unacceptable concessions on the table that would undermine a collective agreement that members have fought hard for over the last 40 years," one of the organizers of the rally explained, and added, "They are seeking concessions from some of their lowest paid workers." The Local 20378 team is defending the terms of the present collective agreement and opposing the unjust and unacceptable concessions proposed by the CMHC Granville Island management. The PSAC team is seeking to improve the terms of the next settlement. This is part and parcel of the overall struggle, they say, to stop the rise of "precarious, part-time, non-standard, and temporary work in Canada."

Representatives of different locals of PSAC, along with allies from other unions including the BC Government and Service Employees' Union, MoveUP and the BC Nurses' Union gathered with their cars and bicycles in the parking lot at Fir and 2nd avenue at 12:15, covering them with placards and flags. The line of cars then wended its way noisily through the streets of the Granville Island area, three times, honking. Workers on the island who are members of PSAC, as well as others, came out to greet the convoy with smiles and raised fists. The convoy then reconvened in good spirits at Fir and 2nd to take stock and plan future events.

Included in the unacceptable concessions tabled by Granville Island CMHC management, that are being opposed by PSAC BC Local 20378 are:

1. Reducing, by four hours, the period during which workers receive shift premiums each day. In the face of objections by the bargaining team, management revised their demand to apply only to new hires, which would divide the union and force new workers to work for less.

2. Deleting language in the contract that ensures that if vacation leave and designated paid holidays are improved for non-union corporate staff, the same would apply to unionized staff.

3. Increasing the hiring of casual workers, with no limits on numbers, for any jobs and in any departments. The union maintains that work at Granville Island should be done by a full-time, secure workforce.

(Photos: PSAC)

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The Story of Granville Island

"Industrial Island" (Granville Island) was created in 1916 by the federal government as an artificial island and a base for increasing industrial development in the False Creek area of Vancouver. The existing sand bars there had been used for fishing, seafood gathering and other subsistence activities by the Salish people, who all had to leave the area by 1899. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation states that "the CPR, government and local businessmen fought over the sandbars and water rights until 1916 when it was transferred to the National Harbour Commission (NHC)." The NHC built a seawall around it, filled it in with dredge from False Creek, put in road and railway access, thus creating 40 acres of leasable land for factories and mills. By the 1930's, 1200 workers were employed at 40 companies manufacturing fibre, rope, chain, and materials for logging, mining and shipping. Industrial output declined during the Depression years, throwing workers into unemployment. During the Second World War, the island (renamed Granville Island) was "reinvigorated" by the manufacture of defense equipment, employing many women. By the 1970's, however, industry was again in decline, and the island was described as "an industrial wasteland."

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation:
Administrator for the Financial Oligarchy

A "reimagining" of Granville Island in the 1970's turned the "industrial wasteland" into a public and tourist destination through the construction of buildings for things like public markets, shops, artisans and a fine arts school. In tandem with this impetus to construction, the party in power in the federal government handed over management of Granville Island in 1972 to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) -- a Crown corporation that, like the NHC, is run as a business based on the profit motive.

Nowadays, 200 members of PSAC BC Local 20378 do essential work on Granville Island, ranging from janitorial and maintenance to administrative work, which keeps the island functioning. The CMHC -- despite its self-description as a benevolent corporation (making housing "available to all" through its role as guarantor of mortgages) is anything but. Its attitude toward its employees is the same as the attitude of the financial oligarchy whose interests it and the political party in power represent. In that capitalist worldview, workers are merely a cost of doing business and are expendable. Thus the constant drive to lower wages and bring in more casual workers.

The Union notes that Granville Island has been protected from COVID-related economic losses by federal emergency funding ($16.7 million in 2020; $22 million proposed in 2021). Thus there is no justification, they say, for the demand by CMHC for concessions and the taking away of benefits and salaries from low wage essential workers. They note that the CMHC General Manager of Granville Island stated that the anti-worker proposals were made "not out of any economic necessity." This would appear to confirm an article that appeared in The Globe & Mail (May 11) reporting that many firms who received federal funding "weren't struggling at all in the lean months of 2020." COVID-related funds, then, are yet another example of one more scheme to pay the rich at the expense of the working class.

The day to day struggle of workers like the members of Local 20378 of PSAC is a fight to stand their ground against the relentless onslaught of the monopoly capitalist class and its representatives. Every such fight, however large or small, illuminates for everyone how the economic system of advanced capitalism works, and it exposes the economic and political powers-that-be for who they are. It strengthens the working class and people as a whole because it shows that resistance is possible. From a focus on the economic struggle to hold our ground, a broader scope of the struggle is starting to happen where the working class and its allies fight for a world that is human-centered, not capitalist-centered.

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