Two Nanaimo Men On A Hunger Strike For BC’s Old Growth Forests

Robert Fuller and James Darling are on the second day of a hunger strike. The 61-year-old former BC Forest service employee/ treeplanter/ sawmill worker and 35-year old musician had just returned from their Nanaimo MLA’s constituency office when I phoned them. Around ten people were with them, waving signs. Fuller remarked that if the response from people walking or driving by is any indication, as much as 98% of the public may want to see BC’s old growth forests preserved.

Around 10 demonstrators joined them in front of Sheila Malcomson’s constituency office – Dan Tkachuk photo

Second Day Of A Hunger Strike

“We’ll be moving around Nanaimo as this goes on, but this week we’ll be demonstrating in front of Sheila Malcomson‘s office. She is our local MLA and the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment. We’ll be there every day this week and next week we go to Doug Routley‘s office,” said Darling.

Fuller added, “What we’re trying to do is get the conversation going, sooner rather than later, about our concern for BC’s old growth forests and the species that are within them.”

Robert Fuller on a hunger strike for old growth forests
Robert Fuller in from of MLA Sheila Malcomsons’ Nanaimo constituency office on Monday July 27, 2020 – Dan Tkachuk photo.

Joint Letter To BC’s Legislature

The two of them sent a joint letter to BC’s legislature on Sunday July 26, 2020:

“Dear Premier John Horgan, Minister Doug Donaldson, Sheila Malcomson, Doug Routley, and all Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia,”

“Out of our deep concern for British Columbia’s old-growth forest and the species that are disappearing with them, we will go on a hunger strike until Premier John Horgan implements a ban on the logging of old growth forests across BC. The hunger strike will begin on July 27th, 2020 when we, James Darling and Robert Fuller, will stop eating.”

“Globally, we are facing a crisis so terrifying that it’s almost beyond description. We are at the beginning of an exponentially worsening climate catastrophe and living through a human-driven mass extinction. Science predicts that the globe would still experience at least a 4 degree Celsius average temperature increase, even if every nation did everything it pledged under the Paris Accord. At the same time, human actions are being described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as “biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction.”

supporting the hunger strike
More Nanaimo Demonstrators – Dan Tkachuk photo

“In a November 25, 2008 letter to the B.C. Auditor General requesting an audit, the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria states: “…habitat loss is the primary threat to BC’s at risk species. Habitat destruction and degradation threatens 86 percent of species at risk in the province. Therefore, this government’s failure to properly identify and protect critical habitat for such species is an egregious failure to steward a key public resource. It is a failure to operate ‘economically, efficiently and effectively’ as per s. 11(8) of the Auditor General Act …”

A recent comprehensive assessment of BC’s biodiversity estimated that there are approximately 1600 species at risk in BC today and that approximately 43 percent of BC’s assessed species are at risk.”

“A decade later, thirteen eminent BC scientists report in The Narwhal that 1,806 BC species are at risk of extinction and call for a law to protect their habitat. Protecting endangered species was a pre-election promise from the BC NDP. Not a square metre of land in BC has been protected from industrial development for endangered species thus far.”

Dan Tkachuk photo

“The dire state of BC’s old growth was described in a recent scientific report prepared by three BC forest experts. They explain that “over 85 percent of productive forest sites have less than 30 percent of the amount of old expected naturally, and nearly half of these ecosystems have less than 1 percent of the old forest expected naturally. This current status puts biodiversity, ecological integrity and resilience at high risk today.”

No job, no industry, and no business is more important than the continued existence of old-growth forests in our province. They have been shown to sequester far more carbon than the seedlings that might replace them. The planet desperately needs them alive right now.”

“Old-growth logging is inherently unsustainable since the practice destroys ecosystems that take thousands of years to develop. So the question is how much old-growth forest will be left when we finally stop cutting it down? Do we have to destroy all of it just to postpone making unavoidable, difficult decisions?”

“We ask that you do the right thing for the world our children will inherit.”

Dan Tkachuk photo

Only Two MLAs Have Responded

Only two MLAs have responded so far. 

Green party leader Adam Olsen was encouraging and is passing their information on.

Nanaimo’s Liberal MLA, Michelle Stilwell, wanted to know their home addresses.

Though Fuller and Darling are Sheila Malcolmson’s constituents, and they have been outside her office for two days, none of her staff have spoken with them.

Two demonstrators in front of Sheila Malcomson‘s constituency office – Dan Tkachuk photo

A Relatively New Father

“I am a relatively new father, my son is just two years old. Having a kid made me pay more attention to what is happening globally, in terms of Climate Change and living through a massive extinction event that is caused by human activity. It sounds pretty dramatic, but is published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists. I have been reading report after report about the state of BC’s Old Growth forest. I am terrified for the future my son is going into,” explained Darling.

Another view of the front of Sheila Malcomson’s constituency office – Dan Tkachuk photo

Previous Demonstrations

He met Fuller through Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo, a little over a year ago.

They have participated in a couple of previous Climate protests and shut the local TD bank down one afternoon, to emphasize the need to divest from fossil fuel investments.

“It has been difficult to attract people out since the coronavirus pandemic hit. Today we had the honks and the waves, but people are reluctant to gather in numbers right now,” said Fuller.

Top photo credit: James Darling on Day two of the hunger strike.

7 thoughts on “Two Nanaimo Men On A Hunger Strike For BC’s Old Growth Forests”

  1. Bravo! I wrote my letter to Premier Horgan on July 20th requesting a moratorium on Old Growth Forest harvesting. If we bombard Premier Horgan and all MLAs maybe they’ll get the message!

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