The two days of protest by the Kwakiutl First Nations and their supporters had the desired effect — which was to get the Fort Rupert folks together with government officials to talk about the Kwakiutl’s displeasure with the way logging is taking place on their land.
But we are left to wonder if two days of protest was overkill, or was it truly needed to get the province’s attention?
The protests started Aug. 3 on Hwy. 19 and ended at Western Forest product’s log sort in Port McNeill.
It was all peaceful and the RCMP presence was low-key and unobtrusive. Day 2 of the protests happened the next day, Thursday, when demonstrators successfully stalled the Port McNeill ferry, much to the ire of several locals and the amusement of a few tourists.
However, the canoes and other small craft involved in the “blockade” did not block the ferry at all. The Quadra Queen II could have easily slipped her lines and safely departed at any time, yet it stayed at the dock for an hour longer than it should have while protesters demonstrated on the ramp.
The RCMP presence was much heavier than Day 1 of the protest, but still very much in the background. There were several BC Ferry people milling about the usual one-person check-in booth, yet no one interfered with the protesters in any way. It all had squeaky clean, orchestrated feel to it.
It seemed that at anytime a ferry worker could have walked over to the protesters, tapped his or her watch and asked the crowd to part to let ferry traffic aboard.
On Friday the government agreed to sit down with members of the Kwakiutl First Nation to discuss the issues surrounding logging on the aboriginal’s traditional lands.
Needed or not, the two-day protests seem to work.