You all turned it up for old growth and Indigenous rights in 2021

December 17, 2021

2021 is coming to a close and while the B.C. government has not implemented old growth logging deferrals across the province, we are closer than we’ve ever been to meaningful action. This is largely a reflection of the immense public pressure that was brought to this issue over the past year. Direct action at Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek), led by Indigenous land defenders and their allies, put old growth logging in the spotlight at home and internationally. Of course, Indigenous Nations have been calling for a paradigm shift in forestry for decades, and holding it down on the frontlines on numerous occasions.

But, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge just how much this community turned up the heat to push decision makers forward. Together we uplifted multiple days of action in solidarity with those on the frontlines, sent thousands of emails and phone calls, wrote and *published letters to the editor, stormed social media, and met with MLAs across the province to advocate for old growth protection and Indigenous rights at the table. This collective action inspired celebrities to get on board to elevate the crisis on the world stage. The video we published with your help back in June has reached hundreds of thousands of people.

We’re not where we wanted to be, but we’ve reached the tipping point and we’ll be ready to go with some fresh tactics in 2022. And as we all know, deferrals are a start on the pathway to ensure that the B.C. government upholds Indigenous sovereignty as we work towards a just transition away from old growth logging for communities and workers so that permanent protection is a viable economic option.

If you have any juice left, we just launched this new emailing tool to target some key decision makers within the B.C. government to let them know we’re still watching this file closely; as well as to amplify the call from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and Indigenous leaders across the province for critical funding to support First Nations in the deferral process and beyond. The update from the B.C. government yesterday made it clear that adequate funding is still amiss.

This is not a new call to action. Indigenous Nations have been making these demands for many years and earlier this year the UBCIC and their allies sent a very clear Request for Provincial Funding in Developing a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy from the B.C. government.

And as expert on UNDRIP, Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, said: “unilaterally determined approaches and timelines is not ‘free, prior and informed’ decision-making. Yet this is exactly what BC has done- taking 18 months to develop its approach without First Nations and then giving First Nations 30 days for their decision-making. This is not co-operation— it is not a basis for consent.

All this to say, we can recognize how far we’ve come this past year and still be critical of the B.C. government’s legacy of violating Indigenous rights and creating a status quo for forestry that is embedded in old growth logging. But my friends, the times are a changin’.

We hope that you take time in the next weeks to restore after a truly tumultuous year in the ongoing pandemic reality, and all of the overlapping crises. It’s important to take care of each other along the road of this paradigm shift. Happy holidays in which ever way you celebrate!