Cowichan This Week: We’re going to court

Hi, I’m Jacqueline Ronson, The Discourse’s lead reporter for the Cowichan region. Welcome to Cowichan This Week! In this edition, you’ll find essential COVID-19 info, the latest local news and events, highlights from The Discourse’s in-depth reporting and more. Thanks for checking it out, and please consider signing up to get this information in your inbox every Thursday.

Why The Discourse is going to court over media access at Fairy Creek

I was talking to a friend over the weekend about our complicated feelings as we watch (from afar) the unfolding events at the Fairy Creek Blockades. RCMP continue to arrest protesters who block industry access to old growth trees, acting on the authority of a court injunction. 

“I think we can agree this is a crisis,” my friend said. “Where is John Horgan? He needs to do something. I’m scared that people will get hurt.”

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I’m scared, too. 

Emiliee Gilpin, managing editor for IndigiNews, sister publication to The Discourse, has been on the scene in recent days, documenting the events. (There are links to Emilee’s recent reporting below. You can also listen to Emilee speak about the experience on CBC The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn.) The Discourse is working as hard as we can to support Emilee and IndigiNews in this important work, bringing important perspectives forward that otherwise would not be heard. Like this insight, shared on Twitter:

“One thing that becomes glaringly apparent which no one has the time to mention, about the Fairy Creek Blockades, is the amount of Indigenous-led education that’s taking place behind the scenes. Yesterday, at the headquarters, a visiting support — Kwakwaka’wakw — spoke about cultural appropriation and respect to correct a wrong that had taken place. The many camps have become a place of knowledge-sharing, unlearning and relationship-building.”

But access for Emilee and other journalists has been hindered in significant ways by RCMP, who have prevented access to witness arrests and other events. 

That’s why The Discourse has teamed up with other independent media and the Canadian Association of Journalists to call on the RCMP to give adequate access to journalists, and to ask the courts to revise the injunction so that journalists’ rights are protected. 

Some things are important enough to come together to fight for: The press freedom to cover what’s happening in our forests is one of them.

You can help. Support The Discourse and IndigiNews’s legal fight with a one-time donation today. We need $5,000 to help mount the legal challenge and continue this important work. Thanks for considering it.

Highlights from The Discourse

Ongoing arrests of old growth defenders ignite questions about injunctions

IndigiNews managing editor Emilee Gilpin reports the latest from the front lines of the Fairy Creek Blockades, including questions over the legality of the injunction and RCMP exclusion zone. Read more. (Photo by Mike Graeme)

‘It was terrifying’: says one of six people allowed to document mass arrest

Unlike other recent arrests at old growth blockades, the protesters were not given the option to leave the area or face arrest. The RCMP arrested 55 people in a process that took 11 hours. Emilee Gilpin reports. (Photo by Mike Graeme)

This Cowichan Valley farm is innovating towards small-scale profitability

The Discourse’s Food For Thought series has unveiled some of the major challenges facing local farms, including the barriers to profitability for small-scale farms. At Under The Oak Farm near Duncan, these farmers are using the principles of permaculture to get the most out of a smaller footprint. Sophie Andre reports.

Nanaimo’s performing artists get ‘crafty’ as recovery inspires new forms

Nanaimo artists are innovating new ways to make art and find audiences during the pandemic, Julie Chadwick reports.

Essential COVID-19 updates

  • On Tuesday the B.C. government announced its restart plan, as COVID-19 vaccination rates climb and case numbers fall. It’s now OK to socially gather with up to 10 people outdoors and up to five people, or one household, indoors. Indoor restaurant dining is also now allowed for tables of up to six people. Organized, seated gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors are permitted when a safety plan is in place. Read more details here. The next step of the reopening could come as soon as June 15 if 65 per cent of adults are vaccinated and case numbers and hospitalizations continue to fall. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that steps in the reopening may be delayed but she does not expect a need to reverse course and bring in more restrictions, given B.C.’s vaccination progress.
  • Everyone age 12 and older can now register to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Youth 12 to 17 can also show up without pre-registering to the vaccination appointment of another member of their household and get vaccinated at the same time. Find more information for youth and their caregivers here.

More news and announcements

  • More than 100 seniors overwhelmed an RCMP checkpoint at Fairy Creek on Tuesday, May 25, the Goldstream News Gazette reports. Seeing the crowd, police packed up and left. No arrests were made.
  • The mayor of Lake Cowichan is concerned that the conflict over old growth logging will escalate, as many in the municipality support the forest industry, CTV News reports. The town is en route to some of the remote blockade sites. 
  • While battles over trees continue in Ditidaht and Pacheedaht territories, there remain unanswered questions over how North Cowichan’s municipal forests will be managed into the future. In commentary published by the Cowichan Valley Citizen, Icel Dobell argues that protecting the forest is the wisest choice, for now and for the future. 
  • Surveys by Social Planning Cowichan show that many households have seen decreased income and increased costs during the pandemic. Check out the group’s Facebook page for more key insights. 
  • The B.C. government has proclaimed this week as Anti-Racism Awareness Week. May is also Asian Heritage Month, and the anniversaries of the Komagata Maru incident and the murder of Geroge Floyd both occur this week. Check out the goverment’s anti-racist education campiagn, featuring the work of local artists, here
  • Lisa Marie Barron, a Nanaimo Ladysmith school trustee, will seek election in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding for the NDP in the next federal election, the Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle reports
  • A group calling itself Jewish Fast for Gaza in Cowichan protested in Duncan’s City Square on Wednesday, May 26, to “demonstrate their opposition to the 15-year blockade of Gaza by Israel and its allies,” according to a news release. The group plans to demonstrate and fast on the third Wednesday of every month.
  • A Vancouver Island University researcher is working with Cowichan District Hospital staff to figure out what design elements of the new hospital might contribute most to employee wellbeing, according to a news release
  • BC Housing and the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association have opened a new temporary shelter at Ladysmith’s Island Hotel to shelter people through the pandemic, The Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle reports. As of this week there are five guests at the shelter.
  • Cowichan Tribes, Halalt First Nation, and the Cowichan Watershed Board have teamed up to collect detailed data on salmon habitat in the Koksilah and Chemainus rivers, My Cowichan Valley Now reports
  • Ladysmith Maritime Society pirates surprised and delighted school children on a storybook walk at Brown Drive Park, the Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle reports

Community events

  • Through Wednesday, June 2: 🎨 Catch Doomscrolling, a special one-week showcase by textile artist Shannon Wardroper, at The Annex in the Cowichan Community Centre, presented by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council. 
  • Friday, May 28 through Saturday, June 19: 🖼️ At the Cowichan Valley Arts Council Gallery, catch Moments of Joy, an exhibit featuring paintings by Marsha Batchelor and sculpture by Bev Paterson.
  • Friday, June 11: 🎸 Catch a don’t-miss performance from local musician Jared Popma, streaming live from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.
  • June through August: 📚 Literacy Now Cowichan is hosting a summer-long read-a-thon fundraiser. Similar to a walk-a-thon, participants collect pledges for each book read, or audiobook listened to. Here’s the link to register
  • Through Sept. 6: 🚚 The food trucks are back at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. every day. Check the Facebook page for the latest updates. 
  • Register now: 🌳 Registration is open for the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre’s popular Science and Nature Summer Camps! Kids will enjoy plenty of outdoor fun on the shores of the Cowichan Estuary learning about the animals, birds and creatures that live here through hands on science, art and play!  
  • Register Now: 🎨 Check out the Cowichan Valley Arts Council’s line up of arts camps for kids, from puppetry to performance.

What did I miss? Let me know what events are coming up near you by sending me an email

In your words

“Emilee Gilpin is one of my most trusted sources of journalism and reporting done right,” wrote Luna Aixin on Twitter. “Follow Emilee on what’s happening at Caycuse Blockade.”

I couldn’t agree more! I’m privileged to sometimes be welcomed to peek behind the curtain of IndigiNews’s work, and I have witnessed first hand that team’s deep commitment to respectful, relationship-based reporting. [end]

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