The Land Defenders who presently and for months prior to now have been occupying our traditional territories in a desperate attempt to defend them against clear cut logging wishes for you to know that presently the forest still lives despite recent attempts to destroy it!
There also has been more news shared that there will be a court date in Vancouver, not Vernon thankfully, this upcoming Thursday, so tomorrow which very well may see this injunction overturned. Do not sigh a breath of relief yet, this has been going on for months and one court order can follow another. The Defense Camps will stay in place.
The Land Defenders are inviting people to keep coming to the camps, stating they have ample food to share and sleeping bags for those who wish to spend some time in the forest. They are open to people just coming to visit, or to observe the actions of police and they want everyone to know that they will not be put in danger of arrest unless they so chose to take such a position. Also this is not a criminal matter, it is a civil matter and none of the Land Defender’s, myself included have nor do we receive criminal records. In order to get a criminal record in Canada you still have to commit a criminal act, if you are protesting, walking, plant gathering, cycling, photographing or participating in any other benign act in the forest you are not doing anything legal and your rights to exist are enshrined in the constitution.
The forest in question is an important area to the communities here, there are well used trails, medicine plants are gathered, berries, mushrooms and you will find bark stripped from some of the cedar trees, that bark is still how we make our super cool hats and regalia, we do these things in the present, our culture and people did not go extinct! We are using our resources presently, we and the people who live on our territories need them so clear cutting any where on this coast is not going to be welcomed. Harvesting must be done with care and consideration, this may perhaps cut into profits but that is not our priority nor is it our responsibility to allow our resources to be stripped away for the economic gain of a few.
For many of us this is not a battle to expand park boundaries, this is not a battle to create more recreational spaces for the privileged to enjoy, this may matter most to some of the community members but parks are of no interest to me.
What does it feel like to return home to find it gone? Just because you are not human does that mean you do not get a part of what you were born a part of because foolish human belief systems. Can human beings survive very long with only our egos and delusions to sustain us? No, we have created terrible systems which are best discarded.
For may of us this is about everything, our trees, plants, water, fish, birds and all the other creatures that inhabit them, including the people. This is about ensuring that we have enough resources to maintain the life that currently lives here, and right now we do not. The logging has been creating water shortages in the communities, the people who water the decorative planters in the communities do so with large signs ensuring people that the water they are using is not drinking water to ease the tensions. These water shortages make it difficult for other people and their business’ to function properly, it has set people on edge, you can see it in the communities, people are frustrated by the situation, it has been an unresolved issue in this area for fifty years.
For some this is also about money, many of us are tired of having to foot the bill for those signs that the water trucks must now carry, and the ongoing policing for industry, that is an outrageous expense that is being dumped on the tax payer. There were reportedly ten RCMP officers dispatched to arrest seven people, they were all on site for four hours and wasted even more hours and tax dollars processing community members who are going to be forced to attend a trial, more expense on a civil order that was created without considering both sides of the matter, one that violates everyones rights, for most of us this is all a bit much.
For many of us this is also about our rights and freedoms, peaceful protesters, walkers, joggers, picnickers and berry pickers are not in any way violating any laws much less anyone else’s personal rights or freedoms. That is who you will find in the forest however for some reason the RCMP went to the bother of paying regular visits to the now disputed area long before the injunction was issued so you can tack that on top of the other expenses accrued by the tax payer so far with this one logging company. Visits by the RCMP at this and other community based actions which are made on behalf of the community do a great deal of harm to the community members. I have witnessed the distress that this cause to many people, they are very much terrified of the police. I cannot help but think at times how ironic it is that we are now paying for the forces that our oppressors use to control us yet we claim to be an advanced civilization to those that came before. At least the ruling elite paid for their own armies back in the day, our new systems of picking up their expenses for the well to do are far less impressive than they are made out to be.
For many this is about homelessness, it is about the recent senseless destruction of the a community created housing project where people who could not find housing because none is available in this community fixed the problem by creating their own. They had solved their own problem with ingenuity at their own expense and they were not doing any harm in the process, in doing this the community gained because we need strong young people to work in our communities and all of these young people do work in our communities and we are failing to provide places for many people to be able to live. The housing crisis is not just a headline, it is a reality that is harming a lot of communities, and we certainly have the resources to house everyone and I really do not see why we should not just go a head and do just that because the forests are already being lived in by people who cannot find homes here. How is it wrong that they create safe, harmless homes for themselves in areas that impede no one, yet it is okay for them to live in a tent or a shelter and still hold down full time jobs or go to school.
For many of us this is about Myles Gray, his loss haunts this coast, the campaign for his justice rages alongside the battles to save the forests and watershed’s. A local thirty year old business owner Myles Gray was beaten to death by Vancouver Police officers in a back yard, in the middle of the afternoon on a hot summers day in August 13th, 2015. Myles had been making his business deliveries that day when he came across a person who was watering their lawn during the drought. Myles told that person that that was not permitted and that person phoned the police, they responded and Myles was killed a short while later. Myles Gray was a good person who never did any harm to anyone and that should never have happened to him. His loss is a terrible loss that effects this whole community. It often comes to my mind when I see his images that only if we had saved that one cut block that time the water crisis would not have gotten so severe that Myles would not have been put in that situation, in part I do feel responsible because I am as a fellow human on our Mother. I feel we must all do as much as we can to create a society where no one leaves in fear of the state or each other. What also weighs heavily on so many minds is that Myles was a good person, a harmless person, the type of person you enjoy having in your community if that could happen to him you realize it just as easily could happen to many other innocent people, including yourself. Myles is the type of person I want in my community, we do not want anymore innocent, good people violated or killed by any state agents. The community continues to mourn while Myles death is being investigated, along with nineteen other police related deaths which occurred in a one year period. Crime rates may be down but there has been a rise in deaths caused by the police so we will be in mourning for quite some time!
For many it is about the failing economies, about rising poverty, about the rising number of homeless, about how the most vulnerable people in our communities are being made to suffer, about the lack of housing affordable or otherwise, the lack of proper health care and medical professionals, the lack of proper nutrition, the fact that we are providing virtually no mental health care or support, that the jobs being created pay so low that workers have to rely on food banks and other support to survive and we grow every so weary of the constant, irritating, harping from politicians and media about LNG, pipelines, about the great riches that are to be made from selling resources markets that do not exist. When people are constantly stressed, hungry, overworked, underpaid and constantly facing threats of homelessness and destitution there is nothing a spin doctor can do or say to make them feel better, trust me.
We are not isolated either, we are not alone in our struggles, people are rising up all across the Mother, in her defense and in defense of each other and that is truly the only way out of this mess, through unity and with a common goal, freedom and rights for all. To all land defenders, activists, protesters, rabble rouser’s and good people who have sacrificed so much and who are bravely putting themselves at risk for the rights of others I raise my hands to you in reverence and respect. ?úl-nú-msh-chálap to you all, you are what we all need, you are the future and from what I am witnessing the future could well turn out to be very bright!