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VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound
Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Friends of Clayoquot Sound held a solidarity rally on June 13 at Tofino’s Village Green to show alliance for the protection of old growth forests.

About 150 people attended the peaceful gathering, which fell on Day 310 of the Fairy Creek Blockades on Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories in south Vancouver Island and Day 28 of police enforcement, which equate to 222 arrests to date.

Established in 1979 to save Meares Island from logging by MacMillan Bloedal, Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS) is small yet mighty environmental non-profit dedicated to saving ancient temperate rainforests. In 1993, in response to B.C. decision to allow logging in Clayoquot Sound, FOCS helped organized the largest peaceful civil disobedience protest in Canadian history. Over 12, 000 people attended the “Clayoquot Summer” blockade, and 856 were arrested and charged.

On June 13, FOCS reaffirmed their legacy for defending old growth forests and Tofino demonstrators were heard loud and clear chanting: “Hey Horgan what do you say? How many trees did you kill today?”

“If nothing changes, they will be gone forever in the next decade,” said FOCS campaigner Jeh Custerra.

“The BCNDP needs to implement an immediate moratorium on old growth logging and create a just transition to a sustainable second growth industry, including conservation financing and economic alternatives for First Nations,” he said.

Indigenous Elder John spent a week at the Fairy Creek Blockades.

“I’d like to see all the traditional lands turned into National Parks so that everyone can enjoy them and feel what I felt. Mother Earth is hurting. I feel her pain,” he said.

Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardian Gisele Martin spoke at the Tofino solidarity rally.

“We have caretaker roles that were in place for thousands of years. All these beautiful forests, estuaries, they are ancestral gardens. They are not wilderness,” said Martin.

“Wilderness is a wild desolate wasteland or a place that humans might visit but do not take care of, according to the Internet. And so there is no wilderness here because every part of the territory is taken care of,” she said.

Local talent infused Sunday’s gathering with energy while striking a reminiscent cord. Musician Chloe Gravel performed an original song inspired by Fairy Creek Blockades, young environmentalist Toby Theriault took to the stage with her guitar, and Luke MacDonald of Grizzly Waves stirred the crowd with an 80s throwback song ‘Beds are Burning’ by Midnight Oil.

Author and member of the Clayoquot Writers Group David Floody recited a poem on tree beard lichen and Nuu-chah-nulth master carver Joe David captivated the crowd with his long ranging breadth of wisdom.

RELATED: B.C. approves deferral of old-growth logging at Fairy Creek, Walbran valleys

RELATED: Vancouver Island First Nations declaration not enough for old-growth protesters

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