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.
A note from your Cowichan reporter
I’m waving at you from the bottom of a rabbit hole. In recent weeks, I’ve been following the Fairy Creek blockades and the growing conversation over the future of Vancouver Island’s forests. I’ve talked to people who work in forestry who support the protests, and those who are really angry about them. I’ve talked to people actively involved in the blockades, people who are supporting from afar, people who have changed their minds one way or the other, people who aren’t sure.
Yesterday, I finally read A New Future For Old Forests, the independent B.C. old growth strategic review released about a year ago. It’s an incredible report, and if this issue interests you, I recommend you take the time to read it. One of the parts that stood out to me was the authors’ finding that the government has done a bad job communicating with the public on what’s actually happening in the forests. There’s a lot of publicly available data, but different groups are spinning those into wildly different sets of facts. If you’ve been confused by different claims or maps on remaining old growth resources, then you get the idea.
The authors’ found “near-unanimous agreement” that managing the health of old forests is a good thing. But how do we get from here to there if we’re working from different ideas about what’s actually at stake?
I’ve spent most of the last couple of days digging into the information that’s out there. How much old growth is out there? How important is it to industry and local jobs? How important is it ecologically? How much is already protected? Is Fairy Creek special, like the blockaders say, or common, as some industry sources suggest?
I’d love to contribute some of the best available information to this discussion, and plan to share that in coming weeks. So I’d love to know: What are you most curious about? What unanswered questions do you still have? Please send me an email to let me know.
If you’re particularly keen on this issue, be sure to sign up for The Discourse’s pop-up newsletter on this topic.
Highlights from The Discourse
IndigiNews continues to lead the way on trauma-informed reporting in response to news of remains of 215 children found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site. In fact, Okanagan reporter Kelsie Kilawna, who has family members who survived KIRS, is developing resources for trauma-informed reporting that newsrooms across Canada and beyond will benefit from. Support that work here.
IndigiNews child welfare reporter Anna McKenzie spoke with educators on resources and advice for speaking with children about residential “schools.”
IndigiNews managing editor Emillee Gilpin reports on a gathering of Indigenous leaders who came in solidarity with those blocking access to old growth logging on Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories.
News and announcements
- Three quarters of eligible residents of B.C. have received a first COVID-19 vaccine dose, the province reports. Those registered through the provincial system will receive a booking invitation for a second dose about two months after the first one. Here’s more information on how to get a second dose. Everyone age 12 and up can now register for first and second dose vaccinations.
- B.C Premier John Horgan has accepted a request from the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht nations to defer logging in parts of the Fairy Creek and Central Walbran areas while they develop resource management plans. Those protesting in the area say they will continue to block access to the trees that remain unprotected and will consult with Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones on next steps.
- The CommUNITY Together to End Poverty Hw-nuts’-ulwum project has released 10 themes from community engagement in Ladysmith and Stz’uminus. The project is now accepting feedback on the report, which will inform a poverty reduction plan for the area.
- North Cowichan council voted against pursuing a bylaw change that would prevent the development of a 108-unit mobile home park in Chemainus, the Chemainus Valley Courier reports. Although the zoning is not in line with the official community plan, by a slim margin the councillors found that the imperatives of supporting affordable housing options outweighed the benefits of bringing the property in line with the community vision.
- The Cowichan Women Against Violence Society has appointed Jan Bate as its new executive director, according to a news release.
- The Cowichan Green Community and Valley Cider Company have again partnered on a limited release of cider made from apples that might otherwise go to waste, according to a news release. Each fall volunteers pick unwanted fruit from backyard and neighbourhood trees for community distribution. The community cider is available at specialty liquor stores, with proceeds supporting the Cowichan Green Community.
- The regional Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station will move from Mill Bay to Cowichan Bay, the Cowichan Valley Citizen reports.
- The Cowichan Lake Arts and Culture Society is beautifying spaces around the lake, beginning with a new mural of children’s art recently unveiled in Lake Cowichan, the Lake Cowichan Gazette reports.
- Friday, June 11: 🎸Catch a don’t-miss performance from local musician Jared Popma, streaming live from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.
- Thursday, June 17: 🌲 Mosaic Forest Management is hosting a virtual community meeting to update Youbou residents on its 2021-2023 timber harvesting plans for the area. Register here.
- Friday, June 18: 🎶 Catch Cowichan musicians Cabin Fever in a recorded performance from the Cowichan Arts Centre.
- Wednesdays until September: 🛍️ The Wednesday Market in Chemainus is back this summer, 1 to 6 p.m., across from Waterwheel Park.
What did I miss? Let me know what events are coming up near you by sending me an email.
In your words
Thanks to my neighbour Karen for the kind response to last week’s difficult newsletter.
“Jacqueline, I am always grateful for your reporting, but your newsletter this week touched my heart and described my thoughts and feelings exactly. ‘This truth belongs to all of us’ challenged me to go beyond emotion to action.”
Thank you so much. It means a lot to hear that my words resonated with you.