A group of families from throughout the Cowichan Valley gathered at Lake Cowichan’s Saywell Park on Sunday, May 30 to celebrate old-growth forests and advocate for sustainable logging practices.
The event was held partly in response to what organizers called “a growing division” in the community that has resulted in negativity between different factions of the ongoing old-growth logging debate, which has been expressed both on social media and in person.
“We believe it is important to come together as a community and create a space to connect in a fun way, advocating for the protection of ancient forests and sustainable forestry jobs,” said Amanda Evans of Honeymoon Bay, who organized the event along with Jessi Junkin of Cowichan Station and Lake Cowichan’s Erin Blondeau. “When you take a step back, you realize we are advocating for a lot of the same things.”
The gathering attracted families from Youbou, Lake Cowichan and other parts of the Valley. The organizers started messaging each other earlier in the week, wondering how they could advocate for the protection of old-growth forests.
“We need to focus on things that bring us together and have fun and protect the last remaining old-growth forests,” Evans said.
The organizers emphasized that they are not against logging, but are in favour of sustainable logging and protecting jobs in the long term, something they said is supported by unions that represent public and private forestry workers in B.C.
“We need major changes in forestry,” Evans said. “We need to address raw log exports and mill closures. We are calling for a lot of the same things.”
As young children engaged in a variety of activities related to the ancient forests, Evans indicated that they were the main reason behind the gathering.
“We’re here for the future,” she said. “We’re being the voice of our kids. We want them to experience this ecosystem and old-growth habitat as much as we have.”
Organizers reported that the event was received positively for the most part, although they said there were “a couple” of incidents in which drivers revved their truck engines as they drove by, spewing smoke and yelling, “Go home,” to which a member of the group yelled, “We are home.”
“The supportive cheers and honks far exceeded the aggressive reactions,” Evans said.