A Vancouver Island Indigenous group says it’s time for protesters opposing the logging of old-growth trees in its traditional territory to leave.
The Pacheedaht First Nation’s land includes Fairy Creek, a pristine watershed near Port Renfrew that has been the centrepiece of a battle between anti-logging demonstrators who have set up blockades and forestry company Teal Jones.
A court-ordered injunction was served to protesters last week ordering the dismantling of the blockades so that Teal Jones could resume its work, but so far they have defied the order.
In a statement released Monday, the Pacheedaht First Nation said its constitutional right to make decisions about forestry in its territory must be respected, and that it does not welcome “unsolicited interference,” including third-party activism.
Protesters at Fairy Creek on Monday say they want to talk with the First Nation to resolve things.
“We do have a relationship with different people within the Pacheedaht First Nation and they are very central to this movement,” said Shambu, a member of the group calling themselves “forest defenders.”
“We will continue to have these conversations and reach out and have that discourse so there is no the assumption that a piece of paper can leave us with.”
The group said it would meet Monday night to discuss the Pacheedaht statement.
B.C.’s Forests Minister Katrine Conroy also weighed in on the controversy surrounding the area after seeing the statement.
“I really hope that the protesters at Fairy Creek respect the Pacheedaht’s request to allow them to do the work that they need to do on their integrated resource and stewardship plans, so I really hope that they respect that,” said Conroy.
The First Nation is developing a forestry resource plan, and while that is being developed, third-party forestry activities within certain areas of the group’s territory have been suspended.
Read the full letter here.