Arrests on Vancouver Island over old-growth logging blockades tally 22 on Saturday

·4 min read
Police prepare to arrest activists who chained themselves together to block a road into the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed on Saturday.  (Brad MacLeod - image credit)
Police prepare to arrest activists who chained themselves together to block a road into the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed on Saturday. (Brad MacLeod - image credit)

More than 20 activists were arrested on southern Vancouver Island on Saturday, including a prominent environmentalist, as RCMP continue to enforce a court order to allow logging in the area.

B.C. RCMP began enforcing a court injunction this week that orders the removal of blockades set up to protest the logging of certain parts of a 595-square-kilometre area near Port Renfrew. Surrey-based company Teal-Jones Group has tenure of the area, which is about two hours west of Victoria.

The activists, some of whom have chained themselves in place, say they're protesting the logging of B.C.'s last remaining old-growth forests.

There are currently six main camps, and all are affiliated with the Rainforest Flying Squad. Five of them have been termed "blockades," while one — the Walbran Camp — was set up to observe logging activity.

All of the main camps and blockades lie in valley bottoms on narrow dirt logging roads.

On Saturday RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said officers arrested six more people at the Waterfall Camp for breaching the B.C. Supreme Court injunction order.

A protester is carried away by police on May 22 from a road that leads into the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island.
A protester is carried away by police on May 22 from a road that leads into the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island. (Brad MacLeod)

Officers trained in high angle rescue also arrested two people who were in a platform suspended from trees near the Hatten area.

Police say 14 people were arrested out of a group of around 100 who crossed police tape at the Caycuse blockade on Saturday, therefore violating the injunction.

That number is 11 fewer than RCMP announced Saturday in a release. Originally, Manseau said 25 people were arrested at the Caycuse blockade, but on Sunday, he said that number was an overestimation.

The group arrived at that camp at around noon on Saturday. Police said some of the people were sitting on the road, blocking anyone from going in and out.

"And more arrests are pending as they continue to refuse to abide by the injunction and leave the area," said the release from Manseau.

48 arrested so far

According to RCMP, 48 individuals have been arrested in relation to the blockades. No arrests were made on Sunday.

Manseau said police launched an investigation into reports that a vehicle used by Teal-Cedar Products Ltd. as an ambulance was vandalized, had its brake lines cut and its engine tampered with. Police say they have identified a suspect in the case.

Manseau said 43 people had been arrested for breaching the injunction (civil contempt of court), and five for obstruction.

Of the 43 individuals arrested for civil contempt of court, RCMP are also recommending that two individuals be charged with obstruction, two for possession of stolen property and one for obstruction and assaulting a police officer.

'Willing to risk everything'

Activists in the area on Saturday said they are motivated to keep up their activities until the province intervenes or the logging companies decide to leave.

"We're willing to risk everything to protect these ancient forests because in the midst of a bio-diversity climate crisis it's morally reprehensible to be logging 2000 year old cedar forests," said activist Duncan Morrison.

Sgt. Kris Clarke said on Saturday that RCMP are, "taking a slow, measured approach with regards to enforcement."

"Our ultimate goal here is safety. We want to ensure that everybody is safe and no one is injured in relation to this injunction."

Among those arrested on Saturday was Tzeporah Berman, director of the environmental organization Stand.earth, who was also arrested for participating in logging protests 30 years ago on Vancouver Island.

"I can't believe that almost 30 years after massive protests in Clayoquot, we have to do this again," she said in a written statement.

"But now, there is so little old growth left standing and the government has so far broken its promise to protect what's left."

Supporters for forestry workers on Vancouver Island gathered near Lake Cowichan on Saturday to show support for the industry and RCMP officers.
Supporters for forestry workers on Vancouver Island gathered near Lake Cowichan on Saturday to show support for the industry and RCMP officers.(CHEK News)

Also on Saturday, forestry workers and their families gathered along a road along Cowichan Lake to show their support for Teal-Jones and the Mounties working to enforce the court order.

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