Mounties cracked down on protesters at the Haddon Main and Carmanah Mainline Forest Service Roads near Lake Cowichan Wednesday, June 29.
Enforcement operations began around 8:30 a.m. when officers began to dismantle a camp and blockade across a main logging road on Ditidaht Traditional Territory in Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 44 on Vancouver Island.
The removal of the camp came after discussions with Indigenous leaders from Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht Nations, following several peaceful but unsuccessful attempts by the First Nations to have the group leave the area to facilitate the resumption of lawful forest operations.
“As Indigenous governments, it is our responsibility to decide what is best for our lands, our waters, our resources, and the wellbeing of present and future generations,” said Ditidaht Chief Councillor Brian Tate. “The unauthorized encampment disrespects our right to walk with pride between the traditional and modern worlds, to protect our culture and to explore economic opportunities for the common good and benefit.”
“Over the past year, we have set a clear, inclusive path forward for sustainable forest management within our territories, from deferring old-growth harvesting to a new Indigenous-led integrated resource management planning approach, to sustainable development, to investing in a climate positive future,” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “It is time to respect our constitutionally protected Aboriginal Title, Aboriginal Rights and Treaty Rights so that we can focus on these win-win stewardship solutions to heal our lands, our waters and our people for the benefit of our current and future generations. This work will take time and we ask that the protesters, their organizers and their funders give us the time and space to achieve these goals.”
RCMP officers from the Community-Industry Enforcement Group’s Quick Response Team (C-IRG QRT) were dispatched to the scene and took four women and one man into custody for breaching the injunction order (contempt of court) granted to Teal-Cedar Products Ltd. They were all processed through the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment.
RCMP said that one of the women and the man refused to identify themselves and two of the women are repeat offenders under charge. As such, the four were held in police custody overnight to appear before the court for a bail hearing.
Following the arrests, the officers dismantled the camp.
“Once again, similar to other protest camps set up in the area over the last year, our officers had to haul massive amounts of garbage, debris and harmful chemicals from this encampment,” said Chief Superintendent John Brewer, Gold Commander of the C-IRG. “The environmental damage to the grounds they have caused is appalling.”
Despite the camp being cleared out, Mounties will continue to patrol the are to make sure the roads are not obstructed “and that individuals are exercising their right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest within the terms set by the Supreme Court in the injunction.”