Quadra Islanders stepped up to take part in a province-wide series of marches to stop industrial logging and preseve old growth forests on Friday (Sept. 18). A small contingent of islanders gathered in Quathiaski Cove to demonstrate against old growth logging, though a larger group of people were adding their voices from home by calling government officials on Friday.
“This was a … march in solidarity with communities all across B.C. who are gathering … to emphasize to the government that their response on the independent panel review [on old growth forestry] is inadequate,” said Geraldine Kenny, the organizer of the event. “I absolutely applaud [the government] for finally seeing the necessity to involve First Nations and get their consent and consultation. That is great. They also now have admitted that the forests are a mess and there has been huge mismanagement and there needs to be a change in how forestry is done in B.C.”
Similar events were held in towns across the province including Victoria, Powell River, Comox, Nanaimo, Salt Spring Island and Gabriola Island, among others.
“What has come out of today is that Quadra Islanders are sick to death of seeing logs leaving our community,” Kenny said.
“We have no value added here.”
At the event, Kenny read letters from other islanders who could not attend. Other demonstrators gave speeches about how they were affected by old growth logging. The demonstration was timed to coincide with two ferry arrival times, and the demonstrators received honks of encouragement from traffic in both directions.
Kenny has been involved in these kinds of events for over 30 years. She has organized and been part of rallies and demonstrations since moving to the province in 1986.
“I came to B.C. in 1986 from Newfoundland. I used to live in Europe as well. I had never ever in my life seen such wanton destruction of these magnificent forests. I was absolutely horrified that this is considered forestry. Miles and miles of complete destruction, clear cutting, watersheds being completely destroyed,” she said. “We should be investing in value-added products and we should be getting good money and products for our wood. Old growth is turned into wood pellets and toilet paper. It’s absolutely implausible to understand.
“Everything depends on the forests. If we don’t have any forests, we don’t have any air and the risks of creating more pandemics will in fact increase,” she added.
This was not the first of these events in recent months. In August, a group demonstrated against old growth logging in downtown Campbell River. Kenny sees this as progress.
“We had a forestry protest in front of Claire Trevena’s office on August 12. I’ve lived here for 26 years. You wouldn’t believe it, here we are protesting old growth logging in Campbell River and the drivers were honking their horns. Thirty years ago we would have been lynched! This is a logging town. Things have changed, but while we’re talking 500 soccer fields of old growth is being logged every day in B.C. Its a beginning,” she said.
Though it was only a small group of people, the group was representative of the island’s population. Demonstrators from all generations were present at the event, and Kenny said she was encouraged to see some younger faces in attendance.
The rally lasted from 11 a.m. to about noon.