Two police offiucers handcuffing an unconscious Indigenous woman

The RCMP returned to Fairy Creek

The RCMP returned to Fairy Creek last Friday, October 16. A post on the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page states 7 cars drove up, and 15 officers wearing blue standard-issue rain gear walked into the Forest Defender Headquarters.

Photo credit: Screenshot of Whirly-Bird and Hiway Hippy taken during ZOOM interview

“They were coming and checking out the mountain before they came in full force Monday,” explained ‘Whirly Bird,’ a Metis Forest Defender who lives on Vancouver Island.

She added, “We’re here to fight for what’s right, protect the old growth – especially during climate crisis – and stand beside our Indigenous family and friends.”

“I would really hope that people are aware that what we watched on the news years ago, that happened in other places in the world and we said ‘oh, isn’t that a shame,’ … is happening right here in this country,” said ‘Hiway Hippy,’ one of the volunteer DJs at Cortes Community Radio. “Not just here at Fairy Creek. It is happening at Wet’suwet’en, Revelstoke, Nelson, and the oilsands. This ecocide has been going on for 400 or 500 years now, since colonialism started. We’re responsible for it and we are the only ones that can change that.”

Many thought that the fight over what has been called the last intact old growth ecosystem in Southern Vancouver Island ended on September 28th. That was when the BC Supreme Court denied Teal Cedar Products application to extent the injunction prohibiting protesters from interfering with their logging operations.

Justice Douglas Thompson cited problems with the manner in which the RCMP were enforcing the injunction

  • “disquieting lapses in reasonable crowd control”; 
  • “exclusion zones that are more expansive than the law permits”; 
  • RCMP officers removing ‘individual identification”; 
  • and “wearing ‘thin blue line’ patches in contravention of RCMP policy.” (Thompson notes that “‘thin blue line’ patches deeply offend some citizens.”) 
  • “Moreover, the media’s right of access continues to be improperly constrained.” 

”It goes without saying that unlawful measures imposed by those given authority to enforce the Court’s order does no credit to the rule of law or the Court’s reputation, especially when those measures trench on civil liberties in a substantial way,” he wrote. 

The RCMP continued to maintain a presence in the area and arrested protesters blocking routes to logging areas on October 1st, 5th and 6th.

“Industry and RCMP are definitely working together,” said Whirly Bird.

Forest Defenders kitchen area before RCMP took it down – RCMP press release of Monday Oct 18, 2021

The Teal Jones Group appealed Justice Thompson’s ruling. On their website it says:

“To do otherwise would be to allow anarchy to reign over civil society, and for misinformation campaigns to win over fact. The blockaders have been flouting both the stated wishes of the local First Nations and the well-reasoned court injunction, while engaging in dangerous and illegal activity and spreading misinformation through sophisticated and well-financed campaigns.”

On October 8, the BC Court of Appeals ordered a stay of the recent decision to not extend Fairy Creek injunction, pending an appeal by Teal Cedar products.

In her reasons for judgement, Madam Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein explained,   “Teal Cedar [is] engaging in government-authorized, legal activity, unobstructed by unlawful actions. The status quo is the long‑standing injunction. No matter how unsavoury the protesters find Teal Cedar’s logging, their quarrel is with government policy.”

She added, “In a situation where the criminal law has not been effective, it is in the interests of justice to grant this interim stay to prevent serious prejudice to Teal Cedar.”

The RCMP press release for Monday, October 18th was written in a style not seen for weeks: “Police enforcement of the injunction order in the Fairy Creek Watershed area continued today.”

The stream of posts on the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page abruptly stopped at 5 PM Monday, with an article  stating the RCMP denied Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones “access to his own land. They said they will arrest him if he passes by them.” 

This is presumably a reference to the fact the Fairy Creek watershed is in traditional Pacheedaht territory. 

When new photos were finally added to the Facebook page, Wednesday night, they include pictures of Elder Bill Jones sitting defiantly in front of the RCMP. 

In the interval, the Forest Defender’s Headquarters has been pushed off the mountain to the highway below.  

In the podcast above, ‘Hiway Hippy’ and ‘Whirly Bird’ describe the last three days of an intense struggle.

Wednesday’s police press release states, “Since enforcement began, the RCMP have arrested 1128 individuals; 110 of whom were previously arrested with a combined total of 261 times.”

Erecting a tripod – Photo by Hiway Hippy

“These forest defenders are not leaving this forest. We are going to keep going back and going back,” said ‘Hiway Hippy.’

This article was originally published on October 21.Additional material was added on October 23rd.

Top photo credit: The RCMP putting handcuffs on an unconscious Indigenous woman on her own unceded traditional territory. Photo by Sparky_Pickle on Instagram

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