May 29 at Fairy Creek

Discovery Islanders making the trek to Fairy Creek

The following report contains trigger words which some may find offensive and opinions which are not necessarily shared by Cortes Radio, its Board, staff, volunteers or listeners.

At this point, Cortes Currents is aware of 14 Discovery Island residents who made the trek to Fairy Creek and there could easily be dozens more.

Why is Fairy Creek important?

“Fairy Creek is now the iconic centre piece in the battle for BC’s forests. It is the Clayoquot of 2021; of the 21st century. We are down to the wire and it is where the energy has focused because a 17-year-old kid, with pandemic time on his hands, noticed that something was wrong and actually managed to create a very big movement around it,” said Lannie Keller, from Read Island

She added, “It was a beautiful sunny day when we were there, but they have been there for 300 days, camping out through the winter …”  

The camp concierge

When he left for Fairy Creek, Hiway Hippy, host of Cortes Community Radio’s ‘End of the Road Show,’ intended to be a tree sitter. He quickly discovered that what the camp really needed was a concierge. That was a little over two weeks ago. Now he rises at 5 AM every morning, to look after some of the material needs: 

“If it needs to be sourced, I source it. I’ve opened a free store.  I’ve got boots, sleeping bags, sweaters, socks, tents, tarps, women’s hygiene products, flashlights, batteries. The shelves just keep getting fuller and fuller of donations from all you good people out there in the community.” 

Hiway Hippy mentioned people from a wide range of demographics, including scientists, doctors and nurses. A chiropractor brought his table out and gave treatments. Others offered acupuncture and body massages. 

“I worked with Justin Trudeau’s nanny in the kitchen for four days, cooking with her and swapping stories about 1971 – when Justin was still a brat.”

There are about 60 people at the Headquarters, where he lives and works. On weekends this number swells up into the hundreds. 

“I could not give you the numbers for the other camps,” he said. “Everyone is working towards a common goal. I have not heard a raised voice amidst all the daily chaos and buzzbys by the RCMP in their helicopters.”

The first four or five days, Hiway Hippy was constantly “having allergic reactions to my emotions and having to wipe my eyes all the time.”  

Trek to Fairy Creek: One of the Marches

Ralph and Lannie Keller took part in a march one Saturday. 

They heard there were more than 2,000 people involved. 

“There were actions at five different places … and I do not know what happened at the other locations,” said Lannie.

They were in the group that reoccupied Waterfall Camp, which the RCMP had dismantled the day before. There was a police blockade at the edge of the exclusion zone, twelve kilometres from the camp. The Kellers were too far back in the crowd to see ‘a Pacheedaht elder’ cut the ribbon meant to stop them. 

“I’m told that  he walked up to the ribbon and said, ‘these protesters are my friends and welcome on Pacheedaht traditional territory.’ He cut the ribbon and the throng marched through,” said Ralph. 

Lannie added, “There were three police cars parked and probably a dozen officers, basically sitting in their vehicles taking our pictures as we walked by.”

In the podcast above, Lannie describes the long hike through clearcuts and some forested areas – ‘not first growth, so it wasn’t inspiring, but it was beautiful.’  

Half way to the camp, there was a callout and 50 or so people willing to be arrested moved to the front of the group. 

“Anyway, we walked and walked and got up there – and there were no police. So it was a bit anticlimactic because, there we were. It was a celebration because we were there (at Waterfall Camp) and all those people who were ready and willing to recreate the blockade would be able to do that,” said Lannie.

The Kellers stayed for half an hour, then headed back to Read Island.

As they walked back, Ralph started counting the vehicles parked along the side of the road. He stopped at 240, but they continued to pass cars for another kilometre.  

Trek to Fairy Creek: A Thursday Visit

Maureen Williams, from Cortes Island, arrived at Fairy Creek on a Thursday. 

She had been peddling around Victoria, with a protest sign attached to her bike, the day before. She found a group of 50 or 60 people demonstrating in front of the provincial legislature. Some of them encouraged her to visit Fairy Creek. 

Williams drove out the next day. 

“It was pouring rain and maybe the wettest I’ve ever been. There was a robust and happy group of campers right there at headquarters and then a 7 kilometre walk in to the nearest camp,” she said. 

After an hour’s walk, during which she saw some giant old growth trees, Williams found a couple of other people from Cortes Island. There were no police actions that day, that she was aware of. Everyone was gathered under tarps and around campfires, out of the cold and rain.    

“Everyone was excited about what they were there to do. The two women from Cortes had just arrived the day before … They were talking about what they might be willing to do if called upon. Would they be willing to get into a ‘Sleeping Dragon? – which is a contraption where your hands are in a tube and locked. The tube is cemented into the ground or a tree trunk or something like that. They were contemplating whether they would do that, or hang in a tree, on a platform. What were they willing to do?”  said Williams. 

Not doing enough

Returning home, Williams felt she hadn’t done enough personally. 

“I can’t be there for days or months. I know there are people who have sacrificed a lot to be there, but I do not feel like I can do that. So from home, I’m just making calls; sending emails.” 

On Friday, June 4th, Williams and a friend stood outside MLA Michele Babchuk’s office in Campbell River. They handed out flyers and told people how they could support the protest at Fairy Creek.  

Links of Interest:

Photo credits: Crowd photos – courtesy Ralph Kellar; podcast photo: Campfire by Liv Unni Sødem via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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