A Vancouver Island First Nations says it will be rolling out access restrictions and safety measures within its territory after a conflict between old-growth logging protesters and forestry workers earlier this week.
The Huu-ay-aht First Nation says a protester drove through safety barriers into an active logging area, putting their own and workers’ safety at risk.
“Any protest activity that puts human life at risk is completely unacceptable. While we support the right to peaceful and legal protest, it must not disrupt safe forestry operations,” Huu-ay-aht Chief Coun. Robert J. Dennis Sr. said. “Equally, Huu-ay-aht First Nations strongly condemns the use of racist language, intimidation, or other acts of violence directed at protesters who are peacefully and legally protesting.”
It comes after Western Forest Products Inc. (WFP) said it was investigating an incident involving a contractor working in the Walbran Valley and an Indigenous youth.
The protest group, Rainforest Flying Squad, said video of the incident shows an Indigenous youth being assaulted by a forestry worker at an encampment set up to protest the logging of old-growth forests.
A photograph of notes from the Rainforest Flying Squad detailing the incident said two loggers “jumped a member of [the group] and hit him multiple times.”
In the Huu-ay-aht’s statement, they said a conflict and resolution specialist has been brought in by the First Nation and Western Forest Products to prepare a report on how to ensure safe forestry operations “while also ensuring individuals are able to exercise their right to peaceful and legal protest.”
The First Nation said it will provide further details regarding access restrictions and safety measures on Monday, May 10, and in the meantime will meet with Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations, Western Forest Products and the provincial government.