The B.C. First Nation whose traditional territory is home to Vancouver Island’s most high-profile ongoing logging dispute has spoken out againt the ongoing protests.
The Pacheedaht First Nation re-asserted the Fairy Creek old-growth forest is in their unceeded territory and interference from third-party activists is not welcome, in a statement released April 12.
Activists at Fairy Creek have been blocking access to an old-growth forest slated to be logged by the Teal-Jones Group.
“Pacheedaht has always harvested and managed our forestry resources, including old-growth cedar, for cultural, ceremonial, domestic and economic purposes,” Chief Councillor Jeff Jones and one hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones said in the release.
They said they have agreements from tenure holders and the provincial government to pause work in “specific” areas of their territory, which have not been publicly identified, while the nation works on an Integrated Resource Stewardship Plan.
Pacheedaht is also near the end of a treaty negotiation with the province.
“Pacheedaht is concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities in our territory,” the statement reads.
There isn’t full agreement in the nation, however. Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones has supported the Fairy Creek protest movement since it began in August. He released a statement today (April 13) saying he disagreed with Frank Queesto Jones’ claim to the hereditary chief title, saying that “He is not eligible to make the claim for the Jones family line, and is not informed by the hereditary system amongst our peoples.”
Bill Jones finished his statement by saying, “I will continue standing for the land until I am dead. I feel like an old growth tree is worth the same as my life.
“I implore people to continue to stand with me to protect our forests from destruction and colonialism because we need allies on the ground to stop old growth logging in my home territory, and for my future generations and relatives.”
The court granted Teal-Jones an injunction last week saying protesters must remove blockades but the company has not asked the RCMP to enforce it.
A representative for Teal-Jones said the company would not comment on the Pacheedaht statement.