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VIDEO: Old-growth protesters, Island Indigenous supporters mark year of blockades

Hundreds march through downtown Victoria to protest logging in Fairy Creek watershed

Indigenous leaders and protesters of old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed marked one year since the establishment of blockades with a rousing demonstration attended by roughly 300 people at the B.C. Legislature on Monday afternoon.

Following an earlier delivery to the legislature of a petition calling for a halt to old-growth logging, participants gathered at the Law Courts building at 2 p.m. and marched in a procession along downtown streets, arriving in a celebratory mood at the legislature’s front lawn.

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David Mungo Knox and Rande Cook, both Kwakwaka’wakw Nations hereditary chiefs, and Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones danced and sang traditional songs in the name of celebration, victory and remembrance.

Cook spoke of his sorrow at the current state of their traditional territories.

“It literally breaks my heart when I go back to my traditional homeland and there’s nothing to be seen,” he said. “The truth today is that industry is wiping out our entire existence and our connection to our land. Climate change is hitting us hard … we know sustainability. We lived in it. We have worked for tens of thousands of years to look after it.”

Cook added that Indigenous peoples have never stopped caring for their land.

“We never gave it up, we never left it, we’re still fighting today. The government is passing laws to make this opaque resource extraction okay … We need to stand back and oppose a system that isn’t going to do the right thing.”

The anniversary event coincided with the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

READ MORE: Fairy Creek update: RCMP play waiting game with determined protesters

In between speakers Black Press Media chatted with Lisa Small, an organizer with anti-old-growth-logging group Rainforest Flying Squad. She gave a different perspective on the fight to end old growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed and elsewhere in B.C.

“We’ve been blocking the road up to the Fairy Creek headwaters (and) we’ve stopped Teal-Jones logging operations there for a whole year,” she said.

Despite more than 500 arrests of protesters on site since a provincial injunction was handed down in May – some people have been arrested more than once – Small said momentum at their woodland protests is growing.

“With COVID protocols loosening up a bit and with some of the travel bans lifting in B.C., more people have joined from around the province, which is amazing,” she said.

Additional anti-logging protests have recently been initiated around the province, she added, including the Old Growth Revy-lution in Revelstoke. “It’s intense to be interacting with police day in and day out … but there’s also so much community, great energy, song and ceremony on the front line, too.”

Victoria police announced Monday morning that CCTV cameras near the courthouse and legislature would be temporarily deployed throughout the day. During the event, VicPD could be seen from the Legislature’s top story surveying the assembly with binoculars.

READ MORE: Fairy Creek old-growth protests hit 500-arrest mark

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