Wednesday, June 9, 2021

 


I’d like to provide an update on an important development in Fairy Creek.

On Monday June 7th, the Pacheedaht, Huu-ay-aht, and Ditidaht First Nations issued the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration, taking back decision-making responsibilities over their traditional territories. At the same time, these three nations asked our government to defer old growth logging in the Fairy Creek Watershed and Central Walbran areas, which are located within their territory.

I’m pleased to report that our BC NDP government honours and has approved the request to protect all of the old growth identified by the three First Nations, including the Fairy Creek Watershed.

The protection of Fairy Creek is an important step in protecting the old growth forests that we all love.

The over 2,000 hectares protected in Fairy Creek and Central Walbran adds to the nearly 200,000 hectares our government has already protected, including in Clayoquot Sound and the Skagit “Donut Hole” in Manning Park. In total, we have now issued deferrals in 11 rare old growth ecosystems left vulnerable by the BC Liberals. 

But let’s be clear: while these are very important first steps, we know there is a lot more work to do. That’s why our government will announce more old growth protections this summer, following ongoing consultations with Indigenous rights and title holders.

In recent weeks, I’ve been asked why government didn’t act immediately to defer Fairy Creek. The answer is simple: We were respecting the request from Pacheedaht First Nation not to interfere as they developed a stewardship plan for their territories. The days of making land management decisions without consulting Indigenous rights and title holders is over.

All First Nations have the inherent right of self-determination and are uniquely positioned to be stewards of their territories. The outcome in Fairy Creek shows that when we put Indigenous peoples at the center of land management in their territories, we can protect old growth while advancing reconciliation.

Although some demonstrators have said they intend to continue protesting, it’s important to recognize what the Pacheedaht, Huu-ay-aht, and Ditidaht said on June 7:

“Third parties – whether they are companies, organizations, other governments, or individuals – have no right to speak on behalf of the Nations. Moreover, for third parties to be welcome in their ḥahahuułi (traditional territories), they must respect their governance and stewardship, sacred principles, and right to economically benefit from the resources within the ḥahahuułi.”

Thank you for raising your voice on this issue. British Columbians have cared about these forests for a long time, and these last few weeks have shown that commitment is stronger than ever. These forests are part of what makes our province a great place to live. They’re part of who we are as British Columbians.

 

Protecting Fairy Creek is an important step, but there’s a lot more work to do. I’ll keep you updated as we take additional action to protect old growth forests for future generations.

 

Click here to read the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration.

Click here to read more about our government’s announcement today.

Sincerely,