April Giroux’s heart is in a forest over 800 kilometres away from Nelson.
Giroux has visited the Fairy Creek old-growth forest in southern Vancouver Island, a place she describes as though it were a part of her.
“There is nothing like being on the West Coast and seeing those trees and being there and feeling what it feels like to have your feet on the ground under these towering cedars that are several thousand years old,” said Giroux.
“Just being in that greatness completely changes everything you are.”
But she’s also been to the forest twice now as a protester, and plans to return again soon.
Giroux was among a crowd outside the Nelson RCMP detachment on Monday that demanded police stand down against people blockading forestry operations from entering the Fairy Creek watershed, one of several similar demonstrations held around the province.
The RCMP, who are enforcing an injunction prohibiting interference with Teal Cedar’s forestry operations, have arrested over 700 people at the site.
That enforcement has ramped up in August. RCMP arrested 247 people from Aug. 9 to 21, and used pepper spray this past weekend to disperse a crowd.
Keith Wiley also attended the event in Nelson. He said he was there out of a concern for what he views as ongoing police violence.
“I think [the RCMP are] doing Premier John Horgan’s bidding and they’re attacking people who are protecting the forests, and this can’t stand. We have to stand for protecting our forests and for protecting the rights of peaceful protesters.”
Giroux said the high number of arrests show how much people are willing to sacrifice to preserve old-growth forests.
“It’s just attesting to the fact that people are rising up right now and trying to make a difference and fight for what’s right, because we see a lot of injustice is going on right now.”
In June, the B.C. government announced a two-year deferment to the logging of about 2,000 hectares of old-growth forest, including that in the Fairy Creek watershed. That followed a Sept. 2020 announcement protecting 200,000 hectares of old-growth areas.
But Giroux’s husband, Jackson, said the protests are about more than just one watershed. Indigenous rights, and how land defence is enforced, are also at stake.
“Once they’re finished there, they’re going to continue to log the rest of it,” said Jackson Giroux. “That number of arrests, and the persistence of the RCMP and the amount of power that they’re showing there. … It’s a battle we need to win.”
No RCMP officers were present during the event outside the Nelson detachment.
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