SFU hosts discussion on Fairy Creek blockades and climate emergency

The event was expedited due to the renewal of the injunction at Fairy Creek

Old growth tree
PHOTO: Adam Jones / Wikimedia

By:  Yelin Gemma Lee, News Writer

On October 13, 2021, SFU Institute for the Humanities and Ricochet Media presented the “Fairy Creek and The Climate Emergency” panel discussion. The event aimed to address the complexities of the ongoing protest at Fairy Creek to protect old-growth trees, a natural climate change combatant. The protest is now the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history with over 1,000 arrests. 

Samir Gandesha, director of Institute for the Humanities opened the event. He said the renewal of the injunction by the BC Court of Appeal increased the urgency of the situation at Fairy Creek and the event was expedited to address this fact. On September 28, 2021, the BC Supreme Court decided to not renew the injunction to stop protestors from blocking access to logging grounds. On October 8, the BC Court of Appeals renewed the injunction.

Rita Wong, associate professor in critical and cultural studies at Emily Carr University started the discussion by providing an overview of her own experience protesting at Fairy Creek. 

“I have to say it’s been very distressing to see how the RCMP have been targeting BIPOC land defenders as well as media people with violence and intimidation tactics. Millions are being spent on three different police forces.”

Elder Bill Jones from the Pacheedaht Nation and leading member of the Rainforest Flying Squad was also present. 

“Most young people are coming up for two things: [dissatisfaction] with the political system and also the let down of spiritual guidance in the Western world [ . . . ] Both parts of our society have failed all people in all ways,” said Jones. “Because of the colonialist control of these two systems, we are now in the end game in the last struggle to save our old-growth.” 

The panelists spoke about what work still needs to be done and what the best outcome of this action would be. Rainbow Eyes (pseudonym), land defender at Fairy Creek and member of the Da’naxda’xw-Awaetlala First Nation, spoke about the urgency of this action.

“The trees always had this planned, the ancestors always had this planned. For us to go into the woods to find each other, to find ourselves, and save mother earth when the time came.

We’re in a code red. It’s scary. To have rainbow eyes, you have to go through the storm. You have to face the fact that we could be creating a living hell on earth.”

Aaron Neil Bourne is an Afro-Indo-Caribbean filmmaker working on a short film series about the Fairy Creek protests. Bourne said it’s important to protect BIPOC on the front lines and give them credit for the work they are doing for this movement.

“When we do acknowledge people’s work on defending this land, we cannot forget the matriarchs, considering this is a matriarch-led movement. We have countless LGBTQ2S+ people out here who have actually been throwing down and getting chewed up by this movement. A lot of Black women, historically and by this movement, have had their labour [ . . . ] not acknowledged,” said Bourne. 

“I really don’t like the narrative that all of a sudden the RCMP got more violent, it’s just now, all of a sudden, people started paying attention to the violence that [has] happened to all of these people we don’t ever hear from.”

Jerome Turner is a Gitxsan and Swedish journalist at Ricochet covering national and provincial issues with a focus on First Nations. Turner said he never wants to see the media exclusion lines he experienced at Fairy Creek happen again. Instead, he wants to see Pacheedaht and Ditidaht culture rise and reclaim their power in the Fairy Creek area.

“That law that permits people to be there, doing what they’re doing, is older than any nation that thinks that it has power here.”

This and other events by the Institute of the Humanities can be viewed on their Youtube account.

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