Feb 25 in Victoria: Local Organizations preparing for Old Growth Rally

On the eve of the 2020 provincial election, Premier John Horgan declared, “I’m committed to keep moving forward to protect old growth, create good jobs, and maintain family-supporting livelihoods in communities across the Province. A re-elected BC NDP will implement the full slate of proposals from the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel. We will act on all fourteen recommendations and work with Indigenous leaders and organizations, industry, labour and environmental organizations on the steps that will take us there.”

It has been almost two and a half years and very little of this has come into being.

A number of local businesses and environmental organizations are among the more than 170 signatories of a petition calling upon Premier David Eby and the NDP Government to fulfill their commitments to protect old-growth forests. Their joint declaration states, “Our coalition is bringing a broad-based mass mobilization to the BC Legislature on February 25, 2023, that reflects the majority of public will in BC for progressive solutions to the crisis in the woods.”

They are to meet in Victoria’s Centenial Square and then descend upon the lawn in front of the provincial legislature

The name that surprised me was Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI). While a number of members have participated in previous logging demonstrations, they acted as individuals. FOCI is known for its citizen science, not activism. 

“We signed a petition saying that we want the government to act,” explained Executive Director Helen Hall.

Cortes Currents: Have you seen the letter that’s going out? 

Helen Hall: “Yes, we have seen that and we support it.”  

Cortes Currents: Are any of you going down to Victoria? 

Helen Hall: “I don’t know. We might bring it to the board, but we just wanted to join the alliance of organizations that are calling on the NDP Government to stop old growth forestry. We are very concerned with the state of old  growth forests in BC. With the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis, it just seems crazy that we’re cutting down old growth forests. We are hoping that the NDP government will listen to all the organizations and take action to stop any more old growth forestry.” 

The Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project and Campbell River Whale Watching and Adventure Tours also signed the  petition. 

So did Spirit of the West Adventures, but Breanne Quesnel is away at the moment and not available to comment. 

The Friends of Hyacinthe Creek have been resisting Mosaic’s logging operations on Quadra Island. 

Eileen Sowerby said, “The four of us that blockaded all hoped to go down to Victoria. That’s me, Kathy, Connie and Riki. We want the government to implement the old growth tree report that was put in about two years ago.” 

She emailed, “I believe most people who are aware of Mosaic’s logging practices on Quadra are against further logging in the Hyacinthe Creek watershed.”

Cortes Currents: How many people signed up for Hyacinthe Creek? 

Eileen Sowerby: “About 70, and there’d be even more, but I just stopped when I got to about 70 people, because it’s a lot of work . About a third of the people were willing to do direct action, which is what we did to begin with, to try and stop Mosaic from continuing the patch clearcut logging of Hyacinthe Creek.”  

She doesn’t know how many of those who signed up to protest logging operations along Hyacinthe Creek will join the protest in Victoria on February 25.   

While Sierra Club BC is one of the demonstration’s principle organizers, its local chapter, Sierra Quadra, is not listed in the associated petition.

Richard Hagenson, Council of Canadians, Campbell River Chapter: “I’ve just touched base with the Sierra Club Quadra Island people, and they have some other activists that they’re in touch with.  I’m just waiting to hear back from them. Geraldine Kenny used to be the head of the Sierra Club Quadra Island.* She’s moved to Nova Scotia, but when she heard about the old growth rally she sent this song that we’re hoping to get the chance to sing. It’s called ‘the Old Growth Wonderland,’and it’s to the tune of ‘Winter Wonderland.’” 

“I’ll be there and there’ll be at least three or four more from our group. I’ve just started putting the notice  on our Council Canadians Facebook site trying to get some transportation organized to get some people down the island and back the same day.”

Cortes Currents: Do you know  if any of the other chapters of Council of Canadians are going.

Richard Hagenson: “Yes, the Powell River chapter is taking the ferry over in the morning. That’s why we’re trying to get this bus organized in Courtney so that they can pick people up at the Powell River Ferry and also take people coming down from Campbell River and Quadra Island.”

“It’s going to go via Nanaimo and I believe there’s  Nanaimo chapter members that are also getting on board there. Of course, the Victoria chapter is involved too.”

Don Goodeve, Extinction Rebellion, Campbell River Chapter:  “I know of a lot of individuals directly in the Campbell River and Comox area, who are planning to be there. I know the group from Nanaimo are going to be there in force, and obviously the group from Victoria are going to be there.  I believe the Vancouver group are going to be there as well.”

“I can’t speak for all of the chapters. Extension Rebellion is a loose affiliation. Different groups who are talking to each other are going to operate in their own different ways.” 

“The overall consensus with the people I’ve been working with, is that this is a key issue – one that we really need to bring focus on. The intention is to go and have a big presence down at the legislature on the 25th. As Extinction Rebellion. I believe we’re going to be very strongly represented.”

The scope of the crisis that we’re in is huge. There’s so many different facets to it, but we see old growth forestry and the campaignings to change forestry practices here as absolutely key, and a key contribution to ensuring our long-term viability and survival  of our forests. 

The demonstration is more than a month away, but 557 people have already signed up on the United for Old Growth March and Rally Facebook Page. Some of them come from our area. 

Top photo credit: children playing under one of the trees later cut down at Fairy Creek in 2021 – Photo courtesy Geraldine Kenny

Footnote:

*Geraldine Kenny was one of Sierra Quadra’s Directors, but she and her partner Rod Burns were very active in logging and climate protests.

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One thought on “Feb 25 in Victoria: Local Organizations preparing for Old Growth Rally”

  1. How many seek a bus from Cortez, Campbell River and Comox? Can you fill 56 seats? Is 14 seats enough? From pick-up at Courtney ferry it looks like the bus would arrive maybe a half hour late, but could probably safely catch the ferry home the same day. I am investigating possibilities. But we would need confirmed numbers to make decisions. Most in Nanaimo would not want to leave to be late for the rally.

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