Protesters stood on blocks of ice under a mock gallows with nooses around their necks in front of the Nanaimo Courthouse today.
Dan Woodward, Chrissie Rousseau and Howard Breen were among a group of about 50 people including members of Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo who assembled on Front Street on Monday, Sept. 13, to protest old-growth logging, Indigenous peoples’ rights and the RCMP’s enforcement of a court injunction against protesters blocking roads leading into the Fairy Creek watershed.
The demonstration was the latest of several in Nanaimo in recent weeks.
“Fairy Creek is like a microcosm of our planet,” Breen said. “It has a terminal illness, called overheating, and we’re seeing that play out in the Salish Sea and in our forests and right around the planet and if we don’t act soon we’re all going to perish.”
The ice, Breen explained, represented the current fragility of the environment and, once melted, would leave the protesters to strangle under the gallows.
“So, we’re all receiving a death sentence,” Breen said. “Old-growth logging is a crime against humanity. We need these ancient forests.”
Rousseau said she represented the world’s children who will be left with no future if no changes to halt climate change are made.
Fred Speck, an activist from the Gwawaenuk Tribe of north Vancouver Island, said continued old-growth logging, RCMP action, corporate interests and inaction by the B.C. NDP government to protect old-growth forests represent a brutality against Indigenous people “for standing up and protecting their own land.”
“That’s not reconciliation. That’s brutality. It’s violence. It’s injustice against our people,” Speck said in his address. “All we’re trying to do is stand up and protect the land for our future generations, for our children and their children and their children’s children. That’s what it’s all about.”
The demonstration culminated with protesters blocking Front Street to chant their grievances and sing protest songs.
RCMP said in a press release that they are enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to keep forest service roads free from any obstructions, devices or protester camps.
The B.C. government said this past spring that it was deferring old-growth harvesting in the Fairy Creek watershed and the central Walbran area for two years.