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Pacheedaht Elder politely refuses First Nation’s request to leave Fairy Creek

Bill Jones says protesters will minimize activity, but stay until until logging ceases
Protesters have occupied blockades in the Fairy Creek watershed and surrounding forests for months, trying to stop old-growth trees from being logged. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

A Pacheedaht First Nation elder has responded to a call made Monday by the elected Pacheedaht chief requesting all protesters to leave the Fairy Creek area, citing a risk of wildfires.

Bill Jones politely said the protesters would only reduce their presence in the forest if logging stops and the RCMP agree to refrain from enforcement during fire season.

“We are now strategizing to streamline our camps and reduce our ground crews to a minimal presence, enough to keep watch on both the forest and the camps. We will maintain this minimal presence until Teal Jones returns once again to the forests to clear cut them at the earliest opportunity,” he said in a statement shared by the Rainforest Flying Squad.

Jones went on to say he agrees with elected chief Jeff Jones’ concern about safety both for people and the forest.

“We are developing a wildfire protocol, which will ban all campfires, reduce the opportunity for sparks and ensure we have the appropriate firefighting equipment at hand.”

But he pushed back against chief Jones’ claim that old-growth logging in the area has been deferred as of the tripartite request on June 7.

“I would respectfully remind you that the recent NDP government deferrals in the Fairy Creek and Walbran areas do not include any of the stands of old-growth forest we are currently protecting,” the elder Jones said.

RELATED: Pacheedaht Nation asks again for protesters to leave Fairy Creek, citing wildfire risk

Jones added that he “and many Pacheedaht band members await your invitation” to join the Integrated Resource Management Planning process. Chief Jones once previously stated that the planning process would “draw on the teachings of our ancestors, the wisdom of our Elders, the input of our citizens…”

There has been disagreement between the elected council of the Pacheedaht First Nation and Bill Jones, at whose invitation the Rainforest Flying Squad says it remains in the forest north of Port Renfrew.

The elected council has previously asked the protesters to leave, saying the third-parties do not speak for the nation. A 2017 revenue sharing agreement prohibits the Pacheedaht First Nation from protesting government-approved forestry activity.

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