Woman standing on top of old growth stump

(Updated) Cortes at Fairy Creek: In Their Own Words

I mean, I’ve been in cut blocks quite a lot before, I’ve been around that sort of stuff quite a lot, but I’ve never seen it the way I did when I was at Fairy Creek, you know, feeling the misery of the land and the devastation there, like on a very personal level.

— Dani

Most people are probably aware of the protest and blockade at Fairy Creek on Vancouver island. For over a year, forest defenders have blocked a logging road to prevent logging company Teal Jones from cutting intact old growth areas. For this special feature. I did a little oral history with seven local people who went to Fairy Creek to join that blockade.

After a public appeal for interviewees, I managed to schedule recording dates with Margaret, Aaryn, Caitlin, Maya, and Dani from Bluejay lake farm, and Cec and Christine from Whaletown. Their voices have been woven together to create a narrative from multiple points of view, which will be broadcast as a series of half-hour episodes in November and December.

Episode 1: Why? I ask our friends and neighbours what inspired them to make the journey to Fairy Creek, and what they found when they arrived.

Image credit: This picture of a massive Sitka spruce went viral earlier this year – photo courtesy of Lorna Beecroft

Episode 2: Life In Camp — I ask what our interviewees actually did while they were there, what it was like being in camp and part of the action.

Camp life photo taken from the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page

Episode 3: the RCMP — I ask our interviewees for first-hand accounts of interactions with the police

Approaching police photo taken from the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page

This oral history series will continue for several more episodes as we discuss:

  • (Episode 4) the complicated politics of logging and land rights in BC, the complicated outcomes; media coverage, legal and political responses
  • (Episode 5) the takeaway: what our interviewees brought home with them
  • I’d like to thank our interviewees sincerely for taking the time to tell their stories. I hope that this series will convey something of how it felt to be there on the ground at Fairy Creek; and I hope our listeners will find these first-hand accounts as fascinating — and as revealing — as I did during interview.

In the first episode (which aired Sat Nov 13), I asked our friends and neighbours, What inspired you to make that journey to Fairy Creek? Why did you go? And what did you find when you got there?

Indigenous Elders walk to Salmon Creek (Fairy Creek Protest Facebook)

Here are some excerpts from their answers. This is just a small portion of the transcript, so I encourage readers to listen to the whole show.


“Interestingly enough it was a cruising trip on our boat in may, when I heard via our boating companions that there’d been a big rally at Fairy Creek[…] and I thought, what am I doing, sitting on a boat having a recreational holiday when there are people out there walking and marching for the trees […] I have to go, I’m compelled to go and find out for myself what this is truly about.” (Christine)

“I love that area. I lived in Victoria for five years and spent a lot of time exploring and recreating in that area — more along the coast, like the Juan de Fuca Trail and stuff. But I brought many people to Avatar Grove and was always trying to get friends to give me a ride out there, to explore more in the woods around there. So it felt […] like an area that I knew and cared about, and I was curious to see what was going on.” (Caitlin)

“A lot of people, including myself, went out to see how we could help a movement that seemed able or willing to go all the way, to undertake a major change, to protect something invaluable that was worth protecting. And yeah, like a lot of people in BC, in Canada, and around the world, I think it’s absolutely insane that we would even consider logging what’s left of our old growth. Considering how much has already been lost…” (Maya)

Protesters set up a road barrier at Fairy Creek (Fairy Creek Facebook)

“This is my first venture into any sort of environmental activism really. I’ve been in the forest industry before, I’ve done tree planting. So I’m familiar with those sorts of places. But never in that context before. […] I never imagined that something like that could exist out there. It’s really amazing what everyone has done there. […] ” (Dani)

“I guess I’ve read about environmental movements and environmental activists, activism, and it seems to always be somewhere else, like the Amazon. And then it’s like, this is my own backyard. And I’m not political. I don’t know all the political issues going on, but it was just so clear to me that thousand-year-old trees need to stay upright. And that’s what inspired me to go, that and curiosity, the first time.” (Margaret)

“I remember following it a little bit in the Fall, donating at Christmas time. And then I started following them on Instagram in the Spring and really seeing what was going on there, and the pictures. And they were desperately calling for people. And I guess at the end of May, when the injunction was starting to be enforced […] I was able bodied and I hadn’t done much activism work in my past, but always thought it was really important. And so I wanted to put an action to those thoughts.” (Aaryn)

“This isn’t just about Fairy Creek. It’s about intact watersheds. It’s about ecosystems that haven’t been damaged by industrial activity. It’s about the biodiversity that can only exist in those places. And by any definition, there’s precious few of those places left.” (Cec)

Logging in progress at Fairy Creek (Fairy Creek Facebook)

Please tune in on Saturday afternoons at 1pm, or catch the repeat on Wednesday evenings at 5. Or visit this page, where each episode will be posted as a podcast immediately after its first broadcast.

I was just so in awe of the decentralised leadership that kept working, more or less, the motivation of the people; and I thought Wow, these are the future leaders that I want in my country. And they were being treated like criminals, and it broke my heart.

— Margaret
Working at night to build barriers (Fairy Creek Facebook)

Photo credits: (Top): Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness stands beside a freshly fallen old-growth red cedar tree in BC Timber Sales cutblock in the Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni by T J Watt (Courtesy Wilderness Committee) ( In-line photographs): are from the Fairy Creek protest Facebook Page.

The Cortes at Fairy Creek series is initially broadcast, over CKTZ 89.5 FM, as part of the Saturday Round-ups at 1 PM, and repeated on Wednesdays at 5 PM.

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