Five first nations people on a bluff

Two Cortes Island events fundraise for Fairy Creek demonstrators

CKTZ News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Several events in the next few weeks on Cortes Island are fundraising for the ongoing blockades and protests in the Fairy Creek area on Vancouver Island.

Two of these events are both scheduled for this Friday, Aug. 27.

Several Hollyhock employees have spearheaded an evening of fundraising called Ode to the Old Growth. It will be held from 8-10 p.m. on Friday under the Hollyhock Events Tent beside the lodge. The evening features a spoken address by activist Tzeporah Berman, as well as performances from island residents and first-hand accounts from several locals who have been to the blockades. A small raffle will encourage donations, 100% of which will go to support the actions at Fairy Creek.

Ode to the Old Growth came about through the concern of several Hollyhock employees. Image credit – Hollyhock Leadership Institute

When CKTZ News asked the Awakeneers, a local multi-generational band, why they are performing pro bono at the fundraiser, they sent the following statement, written by one of the band members:

“According to BC Forestry estimates, only 2.8% of trees in BC are between 60ft (20m) and 75ft (25m) tall. When it comes to the biggest and oldest trees, only 0.02% of trees in BC are over 75ft (25m). Think about that- 2/100ths of one percent. Put 10,000 people in a stadium and they represent all BC trees – only 2 of them will be over 75ft tall. Just what makes clearcutting them such an important thing to do?” the statemend reads.

“That which is almost extinct, irreplaceably precious, and even sacred to many sane and sensible people, should be saved from destruction,” the statement continues. “This isn’t about logging or jobs, money, politics, nationality, race or religion. What really matters at the core of this is even more consequential. Humans must make peace with nature and learn to respect and honour the living essence of LIFE.”

Ode to Old Growth has invited a Salt Spring Island musician, Luke Wallace, to the lineup. Wallace who has spent much of the summer in leadership roles at the blockades. In a short documentary video filmed at Fairy Creek by Syd Woodward and Alex Harris, which Wallace posted on his social media accounts on June 22, he said, “this blockade has always been about so much more than protecting old trees.”

Wallace cited Indigenous sovereignty over unceded land, RCMP’s overreach of their authority including violent conduct, freedom of the press and citizens’ right to protest as reasons for the blockade. But protecting the ancient trees is the blockades’ foundation.

“We’re approaching 98% loss of the original forests [on Southern Vancouver Island], and these are banks of incredible biological data that can inform both what we can learn from the past and also give us a deep insight into how we need to live and be in balance in the future,” he said in the video.

Ode to the Old Growth came about through the concern of several Hollyhock employees. Image credit – Hollyhock Leadership Institute

On Friday, starting at 3 p.m., a free mini-festival entitled Sounds Like Summer will also take place at Andy Vine’s property at 739 Hague Rd. A hat for donations to the blockades will circulate throughout the audience, and the event will finish in time for the crowd to relocate to the fundraiser on Hollyhock campus.

On Sunday, Sept. 19, the Cortes Half Marathon will take place, starting at 8:30 a.m. The athletic day is organized by a few local non-professional runners and entirely put on by volunteers. Pledges will cover the basic cost of the run, with all remaining proceeds going to the Fairy Creek anti-old-growth-logging protests.

Since the RCMP crackdown on the Fairy Creek Headquarters Camp on Granite Main Road began Aug. 9, requests from the frontlines for any and all kinds of support have become increasingly urgent. The calls are for higher numbers of protesters, for sharing what’s happening through personal networks, calling on members of the legislative assembly to halt old growth logging, for donations of food and equipment, and, of course, for monetary funds.

The Fairy Creek protests organization Last Stand for Forests has been running a Fundrazr campaign for just under two months. The online fundraiser has already accrued more than $230,000 from nearly 3,000 contributors. The campaign writeup says collected funds will cover growing legal costs, “relief for personal loss experienced by hundreds of people as their personal property and vehicles have been stolen and damaged by RCMP.”

The campaign also states that funds gathered will go towards “safety and camping equipment for the protection camps including expensive remote communications devices [such as] satellite internet and satellite phones.” Five percent of the total donated funds is being “put aside for a future, local-to-the-region pay-it-forward initiative.”

Over the past few months, there has been a steady stream of Cortes residents, young and old, making their way to the blockades on Southern Vancouver Island to protest the logging of the old growth forest. Other ways locals are showing support is by collecting donations of goods to transport to Fairy Creek, as well as raising awareness in the media.

The audio portion of this report includes excerpts from a Come to Life video of Luke Wallace speaking from the Fairy Creek old growth forest published on his social media accounts, as well as the Awakeneers song “Starting to Become,” used with permission from the artists.

Top photo credit: Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Victor Peter (centre) and Elder Bill Jones (second from right) continue to extend their welcome to the forest defenders on their territory. Photo courtesy of the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page.