B.C. Premier John Horgan said logging protesters blocking forestry areas near Port Renfrew should respect the wishes of the Pacheedaht First Nation, whose leadership say “activism” isn’t wanted on their traditional territory.
“I was grateful to see both hereditary chief [Frank] Queesto Jones and elected chief Jeff Jones speak quite forcefully to people who are creating dissent within their communities, saying that they would prefer that they be left alone to manage these issues in the interest of the people at the territory,” Horgan said during a press conference April 13.
At least one environmental group is heeding the call to stand down.
Stand.earth says it supports the Pacheedaht First Nation’s call for environmentalists to end the protest, but has also called for a temporary halt to logging in the disputed area.
Activists have been blockading a road to prevent Teal Jones from exercising its cuttings right in an area known as Fairy Creek for several months.
A spokesperson for Stand.earth told BIV News that it has no members on the ground at the blockades, but is supporting a call from the Pacheedhat for environmentalists to back off and leave forest management discussions to the Pacheedaht, which are still in the process of negotiating a treaty and writing a resource management plan.
Stand.earth is also asking Teal Jones to stand down as well.
“We support the calls made for all parties at Fairy Creek to simultaneously stand down, to respect Pacheedaht relations and avoid divisive colonial tactics, and to allow the space and time for fulsome internal and Nation-to-Nation dialogue and decision-making without undue pressure — this includes the logging company and the province,” Stand.earth said in a press release.
Whether the Raincoast Flying Squad, which has been the main group coordinating protest activities, likewise plans to abide by the Pacheedaht’s request hasn’t been decided yet.
A spokesperson for the group said in an email that a meeting is being held to discuss the group’s response to the Pacheedaht’s request.
A blockade in the Fairy Creek area has been in place for several months now and support for the effort appears to have grown.
In a public letter, Pacheedaht hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones and chief councillor Jeff Jones say the protestors are not welcome.
“Pacheedaht is concerned about the increasing polarization over forest activities in our territories,” they write. “Decisions about the use of our forestry resources in our territory need to be made by Pacheedaht.”
The Pacheedaht are still developing a resource stewardship plan for their traditional territories, and are also in the agreement-in-principle stage of treaty negotiations. The Pacheedaht also have agreements with tenure holders to suspend logging in specified areas, while a stewardship plan is being developed.
“Our rightful ownership and management of forest resources within our territory need to be acknowledged,” the letter states. “We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism.”
Teal Jones has been granted an injunction against the blockade, but RCMP have not yet enforced it.
However, Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones, who has stood with the protesters in support of old-growth trees, said many people in his community are supporting the protesters.
“I implore people to continue to stand with me to protect our forests from destruction and colonialism because we need allies on the ground to stop old growth logging in my home territory, and for my future generations and relatives,” Bill Jones said in a statement April 13.