First Nations tell province to defer old-growth logging in Fairy Creek

A blockade has been set up to prevent forestry workers from accessing a cut-block in the Fairy Creek rainforest, near Port Renfrew | Photo: TJ Watt

The Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht, and Pacheedaht First Nations officially notified the province Saturday to defer old-growth logging for two years in Fairy Creek and the Central Walbran while they prepare plans for the areas.

“This is in addition to the decision of Huu-ay-aht First Nations to defer logging of its treaty lands,” said the Huu-ay-aht in a press release Monday morning.

The deferral notice requires approval from the B.C. government.

The First Nations are asking protesters to allow logging in other areas.

“Our three Nations look forward to building a future based on respectful nation-to-nation relationships with other governments that are informed by Indigenous history, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous rights, and Indigenous priorities,” Jeff Jones, chief councillor of the Pacheedaht First Nation, said in the press release.

“We ask that all peoples both Indigenous and non-Indigenous learn and move forward together and that by working together we can realize a future that is fair, just, and equitable.”

On Friday, the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht signed a declaration “to take back their power over their ḥahahuułi,” or traditional territories, saying they have watched for more than 150 years as others have made decisions over their land and resources. “This declaration brings this practice to an immediate end.”

The First Nations said they have committed to manage their traditional territories and resources “the way our ancestors did,” said the statement from Huu-ay-aht head hereditary Chief Derek Peters, Ditidaht hereditary Chief Paul Tate, and Pacheedaht’s hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones. “We are in a place of reconciliation now and relationships have evolved to include First Nations. It is time for us to learn from the mistakes that have been made and take back our authority over our ḥahahuułi.”

Protesters reacted to the announcement made public today as far short of what is needed.

"We have yet to see the exact maps but regardless it will allow for continued industrial logging of old growth forest across southern Vancouver island,” said a social media post by the Fairy Creek blockade group. "We have yet to know if the deferrals apply to road building, so they may not even protect Fairy Creek."

Teal Jones owns the licence for TFL-46, which includes the area commonly known as Fairy Creek, where some of the blockades have been set up.

The company has agreements with First Nations that have indigenous rights in TFL-46. Current logging plans include logging in the Fairy Creek area.

On Monday, Teal Jones issued a written statement that it would halt logging in that area:

“Teal Jones acknowledges the ancestral territories of all First Nations on which we operate and is committed to reconciliation. In recent years Teal Jones has had productive working relationships with 106 First Nations in BC, the specifics of each engagement reflecting the interests of the First Nation. 

We will abide by the declaration issued today, and look forward to engaging with the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations as they develop Integrated Resource Forest Stewardship Plans.”

  • with files from BIV

Times Colonist