Nanaimo This Week: Fairy Creek frontlines

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This week I got a phone call from a friend I knew from years ago. He was headed out to the blockade in the Fairy Creek watershed out near Port Renfrew and knew I had reported on the issue previously. Would I be able to come out again and provide documentation of what was happening?

The people on the ground needed accredited journalists to go behind the police lines at the blockade, he said, adding that it was crucial for the safety of the protestors (and everyone involved) to have the eyes and ears of the media.

“When are you leaving?” I asked, looking at my baby playing on the floor and the soup that had just started to bubble on the stove.

“In 45 minutes,” he said, and then laughed. “I’m sorry, I should have gotten a hold of you earlier.”

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Though the timing didn’t work out, I know you are invested in this story and have said you are curious to hear more.

Fortunately, Emilee Gilpin, managing editor at The Discourse’s associate publication IndigiNews, has been reporting on the RCMP’s enforcement of a court-ordered injunction granted to logging company Teal-Jones and was able to mobilize to the Caycuse Camp near Fairy Creek over the last week. Here is an excerpt from her latest:

“Access to the Caycuse Camp, which is about an hour drive down logging roads from Port Renfrew, has been restricted by police since last Monday since police blocked off the road with tape and vehicles. 

The Caycuse Camp exclusion zone has been the site of a number of arrests over the past week, as police enforce the injunction with varying methods.

“People decided to peacefully demonstrate their opposition to the exclusion zone and would step off if they were asked,” Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee tells IndigiNews over the phone the day after the arrests. 

“A massive RCMP force came from both directions, two dozen vehicles, about 50 to 60 officers, and said everyone here is being placed under arrest.”

Coste says he was one of six witnesses who were eventually separated from the rest of the group and herded into what RCMP referred to as a “media pen,” where they could document the proceedings from a distance.”

Read the full story here.

RCMP hold up a blue tarp in the forest near the Fairy Creek watershed.
BC RCMP officers have been covering their tactics with blue tarps, to prevent people from repeating them in the future, says RCMP media liaison, Alex Bérubé. Photo by Mike Graeme

There’s another story going on here, and that is the one of RCMP restricting reporters like Emilee from full access to what is happening in the area so they can document arrests and other actions taken by the RCMP.

That’s why this week we’re joining the Canadian Association of Journalists and other news organizations like The Narwhal, Capital Daily, Canada’s National Observer and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network to insist that the RCMP give adequate access to journalists, and ask the courts to revise the injunction so that journalists’ rights are protected.

“Over the past week, we’ve repeatedly seen the RCMP shift the goal posts on how it plans to allow journalists access in order to cover this important public interest story,” said Brent Jolly, CAJ president, in a release sent out yesterday. “Every day is a new day with new excuses from the RCMP about why access is limited. Enough is enough.

On Tuesday, the coalition also sent a letter directly to the RCMP requesting that the RCMP immediately “end the practice of applying exclusion zones to journalists” and that journalists be permitted to do their work “without undue harassment or obstruction in accordance with the law.

An RCMP spokesperson denied allegations that media have been restricted access in a statement to the CBC. The RCMP’s response to the media coalition’s letter can be found here.

This isn’t the first time the CAJ has commented on RCMP actions in relation not just to the activity in the Fairy Creek watershed but all over Canada where injunctions have been issued. Last week, the CAJ issued a statement calling on courts to limit the powers of the RCMP when issuing injunctions, saying that “the RCMP and other police agencies have failed to respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when executing injunctions,” and that therefore the only solution is to “respectfully ask the courts to limit those powers.”

We believe in the freedom of the press to cover important events like this, and you can support The Discourse and IndigiNews’ legal fight with a one-time donation today. Help us raise $5,000 so we can fight for your right to independent journalism on the ground from Fairy Creek.


Do you know if the logs coming from this area are going to local mills to be processed or are they being exported whole offshore? Going offshore unprocessed will get more people behind the movement to stop the logging as very little benefit will be realized by B.C. residents. Just a thought if people want more public support against this logging of the old growth areas.

Thank you,

Cary Gould

Thank you for your question, Cary. I dug around a bit to try and find you an answer, and this is what I came up with.

In April, Surrey-based Teal-Jones addressed the old growth controversy in regards to the current injunction, and said in a statement that they will “harvest with the care and attention to the environment British Columbians expect and mill every log we cut right here in B.C.”

That same month, Maclean’s magazine published a detailed feature by Terry Glavin, where he describes the Teal-Jones Group as “one of the loudest industry voices behind a broad-based move spearheaded by environmentalists to push back on the pace and scale of raw log exports from B.C.’s coastal forests.”

When I dug a little further into Teal-Jones’ position I found an interesting piece from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, written by former Vancouver Sun journalist Ben Parfitt. He explores a lot of the issues related to raw log exports, which you might generally find interesting (and which I won’t get into here). But one of the things he discusses is how in the fall of 2019 Mosaic (a company that was formed as a partnership between Island Timberlands and TimberWest) cut their coastal operations and laid off workers, citing “challenging pricing and market conditions,” which they later also said were exacerbated by COVID-19.

Parfitt details how they then used this shutdown to pressure the provincial government to help them out, by further relaxing restrictions around raw log exports. At issue was Notice 102, which stipulates that log exporters such as Mosaic first offer product to domestic manufacturers before sending them offshore to international markets.

Teal-Jones issued their own rebuttal to Mosaic’s claims in May of 2020, in which they rejected Mosaic’s push to relax raw log export rules, stating that they believed Mosaic’s shutdown of operations was being used “to aggressively lobby the government to relax restrictions on export policy,” adding that “it is our view that Mosaic’s decision to curtail their operations for five months and counting, with the related loss of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, has been motivated more by their lobbying efforts than by business necessity.”

Interestingly, in a show of solidarity, last summer unions representing forest industry workers, environmental groups and the CCPA also wrote a letter opposing this deregulation to the federal minister responsible for exports, Mary Ng.

Anyway, I hope this answers your question about Teal-Jones’ position on raw log exports—mainly that no, they appear by all accounts not to support this policy—and on the issue in general. There of course may always be more to the story.

Stay tuned for our upcoming series on forestry in the fall of this year where we’ll explore this issue more. (If you’re keen to contribute reporting ideas and expertise, fill out our survey here.)

Do you have a question that needs answering? Let me know.

Community shout-out

Congratulations to Lantzville-based musician Quin Etheridge-Pedden for his nomination as instrumental musician of the year for the Western Canadian Music Awards. The fiddler, who also plays a variety of other instruments, also garnered two previous nominations as young performer of the year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, but this is his first nomination as an adult. Photo submitted by Quin Etheridge-Pedden.

Quin sits with his fiddle and other instruments
Photo submitted by Quin Etheridge-Pedden

In other news

👉 The Island Corridor Foundation announced a new board of directors this week, which includes Nanaimo city councillor Tyler Brown, Snaw-Naw-As councillor Brent Edwards and Snuneymuxw councillor (and former Nanaimo city councillor) Bill Yoachim.

👉 On Tuesday, protestors in Nanaimo demonstrated in front of the RCMP detachment, asking for the injunction against activists in the Fairy Creek watershed not to be enforced, reports the Nanaimo News Bulletin.

👉 Nanaimo RCMP and the fire department are investigating after six suspicious fires were set in one day this week, three of which were dumpster fires.

👉 The B.C. government has declared May 23 to 29 Anti-Racism Awareness Week. It’s also the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and the Komagata Maru incident, which was the result of racist immigration policies. Get involved in anti-racist work in Nanaimo by contacting community network. You can report a hate crime here.

Supporter spotlight

Lynne Bowen is an award-winning author, historian and creative writing instructor who has lived in Nanaimo since 1972. She was also the Rogers Communications co-chair of creative non-fiction writing at the University of British Columbia from 1992 to 2006.

“I have written several books about Western Canadian history. I was also involved as a board member in the fund raising for and building of the Port Theatre. I live in the Newcastle Townsite area within sight of the supportive housing and I agree with the need to house the homeless,” says Lynne.

“You’ve got an excellent editor in Julie. My husband and I were introduced to Julie when she was a reporter for the Nanaimo Daily News and got to know her a little better when she was writing her book and we are impressed with her no-nonsense determination,” she adds.

“Julie was introduced to us by another Nanaimo treasure: Thora Howell is a retired bookstore owner who keeps her finger on the literary pulse of this city, even in her old age.”

I asked her how she found out about The Discourse Nanaimo and she told me that beyond appreciating Julie’s work, she also saw the need for local news. “I used to get the local paper, the Bulletin, which is the only paper now and only comes out one day a week,” she says. “The sort of things you wonder about, like the raw log exports from the harbour, they don’t have the staff to do any research. It’s also a relief to know there are opportunities for young journalism students.” Lynne says she learns new things in our newsletters and stories. “It makes you feel a little more connected. We need to feel connected to our community.”

Lauren Kaljur
Want to share why you appreciate The Discourse Nanaimo? Get in touch.

What’s going on?

Thursday May 27: Check out Nanaimo Family Life Association’s senior’s talent show for residents aged 55 or older. Join the audience and cheer the participants on.

Thursday, May 27: Online launch for the latest edition of Wordworks, the Federation of BC Writers’ magazine.

Monday, May 31: Sunday, June 6: The Ladysmith Maritime Society hosts their virtual kids’ pirate event for 4 to 12 year olds with an in-person finale June 6 at Transfer Beach if COVID regulations allow with music at the Amphitheatre. Pick up your kit bags at the designated locations in advance.

Monday, June 21: The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Nanaimo chapter, invite people to join their “Wall of grief, remembrance and hope” in downtown Nanaimo. Hang a poem, picture or a piece of art on the south wall at the site of the Jean Burns building on Victoria Crescent. The display will be up for one week. If it’s raining on the 21st, it will begin the next nice day. [end]

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