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B.C. man on 13th day of hunger strike wants public meeting with forests minister

Click to play video: 'Anti-logging demonstrators briefly block Lions Gate Bridge during morning commute' Anti-logging demonstrators briefly block Lions Gate Bridge during morning commute
Shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, two anti-logging protesters from the group "Save Old Growth" shut down the Lions Gate Bridge as they did Monday on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge – Apr 6, 2022

A Vancouver man on a hunger strike says he’s now into his 13th day without food as he awaits a response from the province on holding a public meeting about old-growth forests in B.C.

On Wednesday, an organization called Save Old Growth — which wants B.C. to pass legislation to immediately end all old-growth logging within the province — temporarily disrupted traffic in Vancouver and Revelstoke.

In Vancouver, anti-old-growth logging protesters blocked the Lions Gate Bridge during the morning commute. In Revelstoke, two protesters blocked the Columbia River Bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Read more: Second judge to take B.C. old-growth logging protesters’ case

Save Old Growth said two people were arrested in Revelstoke, while three people were detained in Vancouver. The spokesperson said all were later released.

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At the time of the Lions Gate Bridge disruption, Vancouver police urged motorists to use a different route.

On its website, Save Old Growth said the blockades are “part of an ongoing escalation to demand an end to old-growth logging. Arrests are to be expected. This is following 13 arrests that took place on Monday in three cities.”

Meanwhile, Save Old Growth member Brent Eichler says he plans on hunger striking indefinitely until the province holds a public meeting on old-growth forests.

“We’re asking for a public meeting with (forests minister) Katrine Conroy,” said Eichler, who went on a hunger strike last year for seven days with an unrelated organization.

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“And we’re stressing the public because we want to have this aired in the public. So far, the government announcement of deferrals has been pretty vague and so we need a public meeting.”

Click to play video: 'British Columbia announces 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forest will be preserved' British Columbia announces 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forest will be preserved
British Columbia announces 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forest will be preserved – Nov 2, 2021

Eichler says during his hunger strike, he’s rotating between Trout Lake Park, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery or a local farmers’ market, but added that he returns home at night.

Asked how he’s feeling, considering he hasn’t eaten for nearly two weeks, Eichler said he’s lost nearly 15 pounds.

“My energy is pretty good, but I’m losing muscle mass,” he said. “It feels like I’m walking in 1.5 times normal gravity. And I’m noticing that my arm strength is decreasing. So far, I’m able to walk around no problem.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. forest industry calls old-growth logging deferrals ‘devastating’' B.C. forest industry calls old-growth logging deferrals ‘devastating’
B.C. forest industry calls old-growth logging deferrals ‘devastating’ – Nov 3, 2021

In his first hunger strike, which had similar demands, Eichler said it was with a group called Extinction Rebellion, with the cause being to end fossil-fuel subsidies.

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That unsuccessful strike, he said, had mixed results from the public, with some for and some against his cause.

This time, in Trout Lake Park, Eichler said not one person has said anything negative towards him or his cause — though only 10 per cent of people who walk stop to say something.

Eichler admits he doesn’t know if someone from the Ministry of Forests will reach out, but said “because things are so desperate now with the crises that we’re facing, I would do this (hunger strike) anyway even if I thought I would not be successful.”

He added, “it would be really good if the government would remember that they work for the people, and to maybe just have a meeting with us.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. First Nations reach deal to defer old-growth logging' B.C. First Nations reach deal to defer old-growth logging
B.C. First Nations reach deal to defer old-growth logging – Jan 20, 2022

On Thursday, the Ministry of Forests told Global News that it would not be commenting on the situation at this time.

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On April 1, the province issued a press release stating that it was working in partnership with First Nations throughout B.C. to defer logging of old-growth forests.

That press release is available on the government’s website.

 

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