I feel that calling for a moratorium on old growth logging will not only be detrimental to areas such as Fairy Creek, but also to other areas of BC.
An agreement was already in place between the Pacheedaht First Nations and Teal Jones prior to the protestors moving in. Agreements and partnerships are something that have been a long time coming, are long overdue and something that as a forestry family, I am very excited to see. With those agreements, it is my understanding cultural trees, as well as other areas that are important to First Nations have been taken into account and decisions have already been made on what is necessary to leave alone and what can be harvested.
It is also my understanding when looking at maps and speaking with foresters that the approved cut blocks are not endangering that of the watershed. We have all seen the narrative from the protestors and the statements that the watershed is in danger of being logged — that is not the case here.
I have been in conversation with several First Nations people who rely on resources as a way forward to a life beyond dependency. Many of these nations do not have options such as tourism to support them. What does a place like Kitimat offer over a place like Disneyland? Nothing other than resources.
If you take away a man’s ability to support his family, you also take away pride. When we talk about working towards resolutions, should First Nations’ access to good paying jobs not be part of it?
In the words of Ellis Ross, “strong people build strong families, strong families build strong communities.” If you are not aware, he is the MLA of Kitimat. He is also First Nations. When we look at forestry as a whole community approach and look at the benefits it does provide, I believe you will find the benefits of a healthy, well managed forest far outweigh the cons.
This of course does not mean that we want to see all old growth logged — we need balance. There are many biology and forestry professionals employed within the forestry sector in B.C. These professionals are bound by a code of ethics and maintain a high level of education. I ask you to ask yourself if you have the same education in this area? I know I certainly do not, but knowing they are bound by a code of ethics gives me faith in them. Having conversations with them gives me faith in the fact they are looking out for our environment and doing everything they feel is needed to protect it and a future that consists of a healthier planet, as well as that of a healthy forestry sector.
Calling for the government to end all old growth logging goes far beyond the narrative around Fairy Creek and it will leave many rural towns destitute. In many rural communities, forestry is all they have.
I am a wife of a log hauling contractor on the North Island and during the long labour dispute between Western Forest Products (WFP) and the United Steelworkers (USW), a friend and I started Loonies For Loggers. In nine months, we fundraised and delivered food to 23 communities on Vancouver Island and Powell River. We saw first hand the devastation brought forth by a long-lasting labour dispute.
I am brought to my knees with tears thinking of the impact an end to old growth logging will bring. Add that in a time where we are already seeing devastation to businesses brought on by a global pandemic. We saw grown men and women who are accustomed to providing for their families come collect the basic necessities from a horse trailer we used to transport food. We saw pride crushed, we watched businesses close and homes and vehicles repossessed. We saw depression and for some mental health became a serious struggle. We even saw some substance abuse set in.
We spent nights on the phone talking to people who had nowhere to turn and were on the edge feeling suicidal. We know attempts on their own life had been taken by some. How much can one human endure? It was heartbreaking to see this happen to so many good people. If a nine month logging strike with one company can affect that
many communities and thousands of people, let me ask you what pulling the plug on one of the largest economic drivers of this province will do?
I assure you that forestry families do not want to see the last old growth logged. We are after a balance and we respect the forests the same, if not more than protestors. So instead of calling for a moratorium on old growth, I encourage you to look more towards that of a working forest.
This is something that the people have been asking for, for two years now. We want balance the same as everyone, but we also need security and the world needs lumber. There will be a transition to second growth, but we are not there yet. There will always be protected old growth for many reasons, but let’s look at protecting working forests as well and put an end to this narrative and these arguments that are placing a divide amongst far too many good people.