What You Need to Know about the
Stand-off at Fairy Creek, BC
– Mountain Life –
The Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht Indigenous Nations on Vancouver Island recently submitted a request to the BC government to defer logging in the area for two years while they collaborate on a management plan…. [The deferral, however,] does not apply to the important Granite Creek watershed or the stoppage of road-building throughout the deferral area. By continuing to try to build roads, the forest company Teal-Jones is setting itself up to log the old-growth after the two-year deferral process is over. But if the three Nations decide not to allow harvesting in the deferral area, the road-building process will have already harmed the ecosystem, with many old-growth trees chopped down.
[The land defenders] want protection for the entire Fairy Creek and Central Walbran areas, roughly 1,700 hectares in size and containing the last intact watershed … and some of the last unprotected temperate old-growth forests on Vancouver Island, including the rare yellow cedar. For context, 50,000 hectares of old-growth forest is cut annually in BC. The 2020 Old Growth Strategic Review, written by independent experts and commissioned by the provincial government, states that we are hurtling towards “irreversible loss.” […]
What is happening at Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) is a familiar scene, one that is often conducted by the provincial government and extraction industries. A First Nation council is given the “choice” of continuing to struggle with little economic opportunity for their community under an oppressive colonial system or enter into an agreement with the government for resource extraction that “awards” them licences for their own (previously stolen) land. The agreement usually sees the Nation receiving the smallest fraction of the profit pie.
In 2017, the Pacheedaht Nation entered a revenue sharing agreement with the Province of BC and Teal-Jones for the Fairy Creek area. Teal-Jones will make at least $132 million while the Pacheedaht will make $350,000 at most. What’s more, the agreement has conditions of “Non-interference” and “Cooperation and Support.” These conditions and agreement are seen by many to be in conflict with Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Canada is beholden to.
Niece of Elder Bill Jones, xʷ is xʷ čaa (Kati George-Jim) has been vocal on social media about how band councils are a form of governance imposed by the colonial system and are not representative of an individual Nation’s own laws or traditional forms of self-governance. Speaking in a video for the Fairy Creek blockade account, she explains, “This province especially, this government especially, have gotten so good at lying and making it seem like it is consent … the fact is, these colonial systems put us in a position that there is no choice, there is no consent, and the systems that we have had to depend on for our entire existence are actively being disrupted by this government. And this government selectively chooses who and what type of Indigenous leadership that they support, and again it is no mistake that it is those that are directly connected to Industry to exploit the land for profit.”
Elder Bill Jones echoes his niece’s sentiments in a media statement saying, “This is indeed an oppressive system, whereby governments crush all hope and consciousness of its membership to the benefit of our political elite.” He goes on to say the province has used a divide and conquer method to create division within the Pacheedaht Nation. Both xʷ is xʷ čaa and Elder Bill Jones have explained that looking after these lands is their ancestral duty. Elder Bill Jones states, “I will continue standing for the land until I am dead.”
In the video below Elder Bill Jones and hereditary chief Victor Peters lead land defenders through police line, May 29, 2021.