Stand.earth statement of support for Pacheedaht sovereignty
April 13, 2021
Unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Territories (Vancouver, British Columbia) — Stand.earth fully supports and upholds the sovereignty of the Pacheedaht Nation. Indigenous rights and the authority of Nations to determine what happens on their territory must be centred in our movement and respected by all stakeholders, including logging companies, environmental groups, and the province. Each party has a role to play in alleviating pressure on the Nation and community, as well as refraining from undermining the Nation’s authority, leadership, or any of the diverse Pacheedaht voices.
We support the calls made for all parties at Fairy Creek to simultaneously stand down, to respect Pacheedaht relations and avoid divisive colonial tactics, and to allow the space and time for fulsome internal and Nation-to-Nation dialogue and decision-making without undue pressure — this includes the logging company and the province.
The lack of leadership from the provincial government in following through on their promises for old growth protection has created an untenable situation that unjustly puts pressure on First Nations across B.C. The Horgan government needs to immediately implement temporary logging deferrals in order to ensure that all Nations have the opportunity to explore their options equitably, and ensure sufficient funding for Nations to engage in planning processes and alleviate pressure from economic impacts. By not putting in place immediate deferrals, the province is instead choosing to allow logging of the last old growth forests and create conflict.
“Tensions over old growth forests have not been this high in British Columbia for two decades. The provincial governments failure to make good on their promise to immediately defer logging in at-risk old growth forests is leading to conflict as some of the last big giants come down,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth. “People care deeply about these ancient forests, and the province must ensure all parties — including logging companies — stand down to maintain all options and restore faith in the unfolding process. Deferrals now will maintain all options. Without deferrals, irreplaceable old growth will be lost forever.”
The B.C. NDP has committed to fully implementing all 14 recommendations from an independant old growth review panel submitted April 30, 2020, which specifies immediate logging deferrals on all at-risk old growth forests within six months, and full engagement of Indigenous Nations in long-term planning and management decisions.
“First Nations require space to make decisions about their territory, and funding from the province to implement their own land use visions, plans, and stewardship initiatives,” continues Berman. “As we enter this third wave of this life-threatening COVID-19 pandemic, everyone will benefit from putting a pause on old growth logging, from forest industry workers, to communities, to activists protecting these giant trees. This is an opportunity to protect everyone.”
A February 2021 letter from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and environmental organizations, including Stand.earth, calls on the provincial government to provide financial resources to First Nations as an essential measure for old growth protection:
The current landscape of old-growth logging has been exacerbated over years by successive BC governments working to commercialize all old growth timber and foster an economic dependence on old-growth logging in First Nations communities. They have achieved this by arranging agreements for revenue-sharing, employment, joint ventures, and tenures for old growth timber in contentious areas for First Nations, who face limited economic opportunities as a result of years of colonialism and racism.
With a lack of critical and accessible funding, combined with the government’s overwhelming influence resulting in Indigenous dependency on old-growth logging jobs and revenues, First Nations communities are unable to exercise their Title and Rights to freely pursue other economic options consistent with the protection of old-growth forests and Indigenous self-determination. Therefore, consultations conducted by the provincial government without the requisite funding for sustainable economic alternatives maintains the status quo of old-growth logging while removing Indigenous self-determination, decision making and well-being in conservation and stewardship.
Once these trees are cut, there is no going back. Upholding Indigenous sovereignty and ensuring Nations have the full resources and space to make decisions about their lands is critical to this process. This is why we are demanding that the provincial government alleviate tension and pressure by immediately deferring logging in at-risk old growth forests across B.C. in order to make space for full engagement with Indigenous Nations, and to establish immediate, transparent, and accessible funding pathways for Indigenous-led revenue and economic diversification planning, as well as conservation planning.
Should the logging of the last ancient trees continue, and the logging companies refuse to stand down to allow all options to be maintained, many citizens may decide to block the chainsaws. Our hearts go out to them and to the Pacheedaht Nation in this difficult moment as a result of lack of provincial leadership.
Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communication Manager, Stand.earth, email@example.com, Tel: +1 604 757 7279