Overhead view of Forest March BC rally in Centennial Square on Friday, March 19. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Overhead view of Forest March BC rally in Centennial Square on Friday, March 19. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Vancouver Island residents rally to protect old-growth forests

Protesters at B.C. legislature and dozens of B.C. communities stage ForestMarchBC 2021

On the doorstep of the B.C. legislature, attendees of the ForestMarch BC 2021 rally made their message clear Friday in Victoria: government promises to reduce old-growth logging and include Indigenous peoples in B.C. forestry decisions are not happening fast enough.

They were there as part of a province-wide event scheduled in nearly 30 communities across the province, including Duncan, Qualicum Beach, Port McNeill and Courtenay on the Island.

The provincial government was largely the target of the protesters, who said it is stalling on enacting 14 recommendations from an old-growth strategic review published last September. More delays means more destruction of stands of ancient forests, they said.

RELATED: B.C. suspends some old-growth logging, consults communities

Longtime environmental advocate and Order of Canada member Vicky Husband, who drew a great cheer from the crowd of about 90 people at her introduction, referenced herself and previous speaker Pacheedaht First Nation member Bill Jones as the elders amongst the forest protectors.

“And we are still fighting for what I like to call the ancient forest,” she said as the rally begun in Centennial Square. “That’s what we’re standing up here to protect and it’s going to take a lot of public action and outrage. This government just lies, they don’t intend to protect anything … I was saying over 30 years ago we’re over-cutting our forests, and we still are.”

In Nanaimo, about 45 people took part in a short march to stage a demonstration on the Pearson Bridge.

“If we don’t have forests, we don’t have watersheds and if we don’t have watersheds, we don’t have drinking water. We don’t have streams that flow down from up in the forests where the salmon spawn. With no salmon, no orcas,” June Ross of the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition said in her address to the crowd.

Leah Morgan of Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo said all living things are interconnected in the environment and removal of the last old growth forest stands will fundamentally change the ecosystem and eliminate biodiversity on the Island.

“We know that we live in complex web of life on the Earth and every intricate thing, from the smallest thing that we cannot see, even with a microscope, to the biggest things on the planet are all connected,” she said

Morgan said logging protesters manning logging road blockades leading to old growth forest at the Fairy Creek watershed near Port Renfrew also need support to “hold the line so we can preserve that forest.”

Protesters have maintained logging road blockades in the area since the summer of 2020.

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RELATED: Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

RELATED: Environmental group calls on province to preserve old-growth forests

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Longtime environmental advocate Vicky Husband speaks at a ForestMarchBC rally on Friday in Victoria’s Centennial Square. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Longtime environmental advocate Vicky Husband speaks at a ForestMarchBC rally on Friday in Victoria’s Centennial Square. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

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