A video posted by the Rainforest Flying Squad captured an altercation that occurred on a southern Vancouver Island logging road and the incident is now under investigation.
The group says the video, captured Tuesday afternoon, shows a logging contractor physically assault an Indigenous youth protester near the Walbran Valley, northeast of Port Renfrew.
In the video the loggers are seen being aggressive, using racist language and making threats against the environmental activists.
The tensions continue to ratchet up before one of the forestry workers appears to knock the phone from a protestor’s hand.
A photograph of notes from the Rainforest Flying Squad, which details the incident, states that two loggers “jumped a member of [the group] and hit him multiple times.”
The notes also say that a phone was stolen, a banjo was broken and some group members were verbally assaulted.
The logging is being done amid a partnership between the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Western Forest Products and the recorded altercation has created cause for concern within the organization.
“The language that was used in the video is unacceptable,” said John Jack, a board member of Huumiis Ventures LP. “It’s unacceptable to us as Huu-ay-aht and unacceptable to the partnership we’ve created with Western.”
“We do respect individuals’ right to protest as long as things are being conducted in a safe manner.”
Members of Lake Cowichan RCMP are now investigating, talking to witnesses of the incident.
“This is a very serious incident. The RCMP is looking into it. We want to speak with any witnesses or the victims of that,” said Corporal Chris Manseau to reporters in Victoria Thursday afternoon.
“We do know that tensions are high in that area right now between the protestors and those out there working.”
The protestors, part of the Rainforest Flying Squad, involved in blocking logging of parts of the Fairy Creek watershed say they are regrouping after the incident.
“Obviously the people there don’t feel safe, so they left to be with a bigger group,” said Rainforest Flying Squad spokesperson Shawna Knight. “We’re going to regroup and decide what’s the safest actions to take after this.”
Logging in the area is suspended while a number of investigations are underway.