Traveling by van is naturally associated with immersing yourself in many different environments.
We discover new territories, new customs, new habits. We marvel daily at all the beauty we have the chance to discover and experience. However, the reality is that as a traveler, we are not always aware of the issues of the territories we visit. And unfortunately, many of these territories are facing important challenges. Such is the case in the beautiful province of British Columbia. Any vanlifer who has ever ventured to BC knows how unique its ecosystem is. It only takes a few minutes on its grounds to fall in love with it: you quickly understand that it abounds in natural wealth – and that it is essential to preserve it carefully. That’s why today we’re featuring our cause of the moment: Fairy Creek Blockade, a movement dedicated to the protection of ancestral trees from old-growth forests in Western Canada.
Volunteer-led Fairy Creek Blockade, under the Rainforest Flying Squad coalition, is a non-violent direct action movement to protest the logging of the last remaining ancient temperate rainforests on Vancouver Island. They are part of what is known as The Last Stand For Forests, a global movement to protect biodiversity and old-growth forests. Their primary mission is to protect the old-growth forests on the Pacheedaht and Ditidajt traditional territories. As such, the movement is deeply committed to honoring the traditional leadership and stewardship responsibilities of First Nations to their territories.
“This is truly a historic movement. It’s rare to see so much involvement in an organization of this kind. At one point, we had over 2000 people on site,” says Marie-France Roy, a professional snowboarder and leading environmentalist and activist who was directly involved with the blockades. “I found my time there extremely inspiring. It’s a transformative experience. The notion of family is so present. It’s amazing because people come together and give 100% for a common cause and for the future of the next generations. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a sense of hope like this.”
Despite the claims, these great sacred old-growth forests – the homes of indigenous peoples – are still seriously threatened by exploitation for financial gain. While governments recognize their critical role in climate stability, regulations still do not prevent private companies from clear-cutting these forests for profit. As of today, even though the BC Old Growth Forest Strategic Review Committee strongly encourages an end to logging, the government has yet to initiate any legal changes. The urgency is clear: only 2.7% of British Columbia’s original old-growth forests remain. This is a very worrying statistic, considering that these forests play an essential role in maintaining the biodiversity of flora and fauna by balancing the natural cycles of water and nutrients, but also by storing a very large volume of carbon.
But what are the concrete actions of Fairy Creek Blockade? Since 2020, the movement has set up what is called protection camps around the Fairy Creek watershed (Ada’itsx). The goal of these camps is to block access to logging companies, primarily the Teal Jones company. Through peaceful protests, participants seek to prevent the destruction of this last area of intact old-growth forest.
“There are people from all over, of all ages. The atmosphere is beautiful and fun, but also serious and respectful. Everyone is there for the cause, 100% committed. Many people had to make a lot of sacrifices to be there. It’s really magical to see,” says Marie-France.
In addition to these anti-cutting mobilizations, the movement has articulated four main demands upon which all their actions are based:
- Stop logging while the government, First Nations and the forest industry engage in respectful dialogue about how to move forward.
- Respect traditional First Nations governance systems.
- Follow the 14 recommendations made by the Old Growth Forest Strategic Review Panel.
- Reform forestry practices in British Columbia to put ecological health ahead of economic growth and thereby build on the creation of sustainable jobs in second and third growth forestry.
“The pressure is working. Obviously, it’s never fast enough. But the fact that so many people have been fighting all summer and we’ve seen the movement on social media and on the news… I think it’s really sunk in and, yes, there’s been change and progress. But it’s really not time to stop. We have momentum right now…” says Marie-France.
Taking part in the movement
Fairy Creek Blockade believes in the strength of unity and the power generated by the peaceful alliance of humans who choose to stand up against injustice. There are many ways to get involved. The most engaging way is to join the camps directly and to participate in demonstrations and blockades. To do so, you must make sure to read the code of conduct that the organization has put in place, in which several fundamental principles are established. If you feel drawn by this involvement, head over to The Last Stand to fill out the application form.
There are also many other ways to get involved. You could, for example, join the team that manages the supply chain or participate in fundraising events. The truth is, no matter what skills you have, the movement needs you. Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know you want to get involved.
Still, keep in mind that you don’t have to join a blockade or coordinate directly with the movement to make a difference. “I think the first way to get involved is to follow the movement on social media. Stay informed, keep your finger on the pulse and be on the lookout for ways to engage. I encourage people to find ways in their personal lives to make a difference,” says Marie-France.
It’s important to remember that every action counts, big or small! That’s why we encourage our community of vanlifers to get involved with Fairy Creek Blockade.
“I think we need to encourage people to get outside, explore the forests and fall in love with them. That’s what drives us to fight for them. I encourage people to explore nature without the selfish aspect of enjoying it, but rather to take the time to think about how we can help and give back. We forget how important it is to protect nature, we forget how much power we have, how much we can make a difference, but also how, if we don’t do anything, it can disappear faster than we think…” concludes Marie-France.
Fairy Creek Blockade is our cause of the moment! We will be donating 1% of all our online sales from May to August 2022 to the organization to protect British Columbia’s old-growth forests.