The B.C. government is feeling the heat to protect old growth

July 7, 2021

The momentum to protect the last old growth in B.C. just keeps building. Over 770,000 people have now seen the short video we produced featuring Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Hereditary Chief Victor Peter, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, David Suzuki, and many other Indigenous leaders, scientists, and celebrities calling for urgent action from the B.C. government. Even Leonardo DiCaprio shared it.

Stand’s old growth petition is now also nearing 150,000 signatures, and we’ll be planning a creative delivery of those soon. These numbers are huge. Currently, a 30 second cut of this video is being broadcast on TV in living rooms across Canada, with ads set to reach another 3 million people or more.

And we couldn’t have accomplished any of this without your support. As a member of this community, you’ve made these incredible steps in the movement to protect B.C.’s last standing old growths possible. If you haven’t already, you can sign the petition here.

We know that this mounting public pressure is working. In June, the B.C. government brought together an independent Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel of leading scientists to advise them on how to implement deferrals that actually protect at-risk old growth. The panel also includes the experts whose studies have shown the high risk to remaining old forests.

This is another governmental process, but it means that the B.C. NDP is feeling the pressure to act. And it means that these leading scientists now have an inside seat at the table to stop logging in critical old growth forests, beyond the incremental percentage that was initially mapped out for deferrals.

The international movement we’ve seen come together around this issue was catalyzed by Indigenous Land Defenders and their allies exposing the devastating old growth logging happening right now on unceded Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories in Fairy Creek. 

It’s now been almost a year since those blockades began, and as more and more people join them, they understand that at the root of this struggle is ensuring that Indigenous sovereignty and land rights are upheld.

Fairy Creek is a microcosm (and a powerful one at that) of the wider reality across the province, and just how many people are rising up to speak up for the trees, the land, and justice. On June 10th, constituents and Stand members from over 20 ridings across the province organized creative rallies outside of their MLA offices.

Collectively, we let decision-makers know that the movement will not be quieted by an inadequate set of deferrals in Fairy Creek, but rather it will continue to get stronger until ALL at-risk old growth forests are off-limits to logging and the B.C. government follows through with its promise to uphold the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA). As Canada reckons with the colonial trauma of residential schools and the continued oppression, injustice, and racism perpetrated on Indigenous Nations and peoples, we can’t emphasize enough that this movement is not just about big trees.

As Grand Chief Stewart said in the video, “Premier Horgan, if you are committed to working with Indigenous peoples, stop the logging of old growth immediately.” Immediately implementing the deferrals demanded by First Nations, including recently by the Squamish Nation, is a critical step in the right direction.

We know from inside intel that MLAs are starting to push hard within the party for urgent action and as we head into the summer months it comes with additional pressure. As B.C. saw its hottest day on record this past week, we’re reminded that the impacts of climate change are worsening with each passing year – and these old growth forests are one of our best defenses against the crisis, keeping our communities safe from extreme heat, floods, and wildfires.

Climate justice is inextricably woven with Indigenous rights, and protecting these ancient forests is a reflection of that reality. Let’s keep going together – the time is now and people power is the wind in our sail.