B.C. Indigenous leaders order removal of protest blockade near Lake Cowichan

Indigenous leaders met with Fairy Creek protesters to inform them they must dismantle a blockade, near Lake Cowichan. C̕awak ʔqin

An illegal protest camp near Lake Cowichan has been ordered to be dismantled by B.C. Indigenous leaders in the area.

Indigenous leaders from the Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht First Nations met with protesters to give final notice to immediately dismantle.

The protest group is opposing the forestry operations in the Fairy Creek Watershed area, according to police.

The camp was built across a logging road on Ditidaht Traditional Territory in Tree Farm Licence 44 on Vancouver Island.

“As Indigenous governments, it is our responsibility to decide what is best for our lands, our waters, our resources, and the well-being of present and future generations,” Ditidaht Chief Councillor Brian Tate said.

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“The unauthorized encampment disrespects our right to walk with pride between the traditional and modern worlds, to protect our culture and to explore economic opportunities for the common good and benefit.”

The final notice comes after numerous unsuccessful attempts by Ditidaht to have the illegal camp removed.

The meeting between Indigenous leaders and protesters was accompanied by B.C. government officials and RCMP members.

“We have heard the concerns of the impacted First Nations leaders and the RCMP are working with all the stakeholders to determine a peaceful resolution,” Chief Superintendent John Brewer said, C-IRG’s gold commander.

“Interfering with the lawful use and enjoyment of property is a criminal offence and impeding access to the forestry roads is a clear violation of the court-ordered injunction granted to Teal-Cedar Products Ltd.”

According to Indigenous leaders, the camp was built without the informed consent of the Ditidaht Nation’s elected and hereditary leadership and violates both traditional Indigenous and provincial laws.

Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht First Nations also provided a declaration notice to the protesters, putting all visitors to the Ḥaḥahuułi on notice that they must “acknowledge and respect Indigenous sovereignty, governance and stewardship responsibilities” and all visitors must not interfere with forest operations authorized by the B.C. government.

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More than 1,100 people have been arrested since the injunction against blockades in the Fairy Creek watershed northwest of Victoria was granted to logging company Teal Cedar Products Ltd.

Click to play video: 'Fairy Creek protester found alive after more than two months in wilderness'
Fairy Creek protester found alive after more than two months in wilderness

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