Jay Van Oostdam photos
Comox Valley marches to preserve Island’s remaining old growth forests
Ninety-one-year-old Elke Bibby, with her walker in tow, thought it important enough to come in from Cumberland to join the Day of Action to Save BC Forests.
So did Tallulah Patterson, owner of Little Salmon Child Care located in Courtenay’s Puntledge Park. Seven of her charges accompanied her to the Courtenay courthouse lawn on their bikes and scooters and then marched down Courtenay’s streets to Save BC Forests.
Along the way, cut-outs of local MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard, Minister of Forestry Doug Donaldson and Premier John Horgan made their usual statements defending the provincial government’s decision to sell lots of old growth to the highest industry bidder. In a twist on the childhood game of “Simon Says,” marchers were cued to turn their backs on the politicians’ obfuscations.
When the marchers arrived at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, speakers stood between the two unity totems installed at the gallery entrance.
Galen Armstrong, with Sierra Club BC, looked out over the crowd of more than 100 marchers and commented on its age diversity.
“We need to talk to people of all ages, we need to expand our circle” so that we can stop logging companies from harvesting old growth,” he said.
Youth Environmental Action organizer, Nalan Goosen, said young people believe they are the ones being “most affected by logging old growth” since they will inherit a damaged environment.
Describing that damage was Dr. Loys Maingon, who was arrested at Clayoquot Sound in 1992 for protecting old growth. While he presented statistical and scientific information, he did it in a passionate way that stirred the crowd.
Eartha Muirhead, who is spearheading the anti-old growth logging movement with First Nations at Schmidt Creek, said that “letters and polite emails to our provincial government may no longer be enough. We may need to lay our bodies on the line to save old growth.”
Other speakers included Cumberland Councillor Vickey Brown, who told the crowd that her young son said that “there are places where people just shouldn’t be” like old growth forests.
Will Cole-Hamilton, a Courtenay City Councillor, said that logging old growth is a “destructive practice” that has led to our Island’s “scarred landscape.”
Mark de Bruijn, a local Green Party of Canada candidate, noted that “tweaking provincial regulations is no longer enough. We need a profound overhaul of the system.”
Marchers spontaneously made their own signs, like Megan Trumble. They recited poems like Lorraine’s “Stained Shoes.” They penned and sang their own songs like Joanna Finch’s “We Are One.”
“The energy” at the Day of Action “was electric,” said one participant.
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I’m working with the core committee that held the Old Growth Day of Action. We’re planning local activities to focus on the Comox Valley watershed, which is also being logged at an alarming rate. Logging occurring near Mount Washington too. My understanding – although I still have much to learn – is that the provincial government has ceded oversight of logging to the logging industry. That’s like the fox watching the hen house. Locals – people who have been activists and people who are potential activists given more information – must step up and step in where the provincial government has abdicated. Stay tuned for more information.
A good event on a vital topic, hard to understand why more folk didn’t attend. Let’s keep up the momentum.
It’s such a heartrending topic. I didn’t know about this day of action.