How can we sleep
Random thoughts about Fairy Creek, the rule of law, the future of the planet. You know, Minor stuff.
All night I’ve been tossing and turning, with the Midnight Oil song “Beds Are Burning” running through my head.
The time has come To say fair's fair To pay the rent To pay our share
The time has come A fact's a fact It belongs to them Let's give it back
How can we dance when our earth is turning How do we sleep while our beds are burning
I loved this song so much. It came out the year I was 17. To me, it really only applied to Australia and its history with its Aboriginal people. I was so clueless. I didn’t know about residential schools in Canada. I didn’t know anything about how our own Indigenous people had been treated, nor what their lives were like.
In the summer of 1993, I think it’s safe to say, everyone in Canada knew about Clayoquot Sound. It was an amazing cause, of course, and everyone I knew supported the protection of the trees, including me.
I didn’t do anything about it, though.
I took the train across the country with my two BFFs (although that acronym hadn't even been invented yet). Moved into a shambolic house in Banff. Worked some joe jobs. Partied a lot. In July, I went with friends into Calgary for Another Roadside Attraction, a one-day music festival with a bunch of bands we loved, including Midnight Oil. Of course, we danced furiously when they played “Beds Are Burning.”
I had no idea that Midnight Oil played a benefit/awareness-raising show in a clearcut in Clayoquot only a few days later, and that this helped to raise more support for the land defenders, who were ultimately successful.
Nor do I recall being aware that five of the Another Roadside Attraction performers (Midnight Oil, Hothouse Flowers, the Tragically Hip, Crash Vegas and Daniel Lanois) recorded a charity single, “Land,” to support the cause.
I proceeded to dance (figuratively, of course) for the next 34 years, despite the fact that our beds were, indeed, burning, all over the world, and Canada was no exception.
It’s now 2021. I have been living in a bubble for most of my life, and it has just burst. I’m done dancing.
This has been a hell of a week.
The RCMP are doing their best to take over the Fairy Creek protest camps.
The only thing the police are there to “serve and protect” is the corporate interest of Teal-Jones, the company that wants to log this intact watershed for profit.
The police seem to think they're above the law.
I'm not exaggerating when I say the police are ignoring the law. A BC Supreme Court ruling on July 20, with reasons given by the Honourable Mr. Justice Thompson on August 9 (the very same day as the police stormed HQ), clearly states: “These police actions have seriously and substantially impacted important liberties within the injunction area, including the ability of individuals to circulate freely, and freedoms of assembly and expression, including freedom of the press.”
The ruling continues: “The RCMP has not established that the police actions under examination are reasonably necessary for either of the duties they assert. It follows that the RCMP do not have legal authority for these actions. The actions are unlawful.” (My emphasis.)
Not ACAB - but a lot of them are.
The police are pushing their way up the road toward the other camps. They are arresting young and old, white and Indigenous people (although the BIPOC protestors have been much more aggressively targeted than the settlers). The protestors are peaceful. The cops are agitated. This makes them dangerous.
Most of the officers are not wearing name badges, a majority of them are wearing Thin Blue Line patches, and I witnessed at least one officer refuse to give his badge number when asked. None of this is permitted.
Whatever you think about the blockade, you should be aware of the immense expense the RCMP has gone to over the past months:
thousands of person-hours, including massive amounts of overtime
dozens of vehicles deployed, including daily use of helicopters, both for surveillance and to drop in ATVs, personnel, and other supplies
hiring contractors to carry out tasks like towing vehicles, extracting protestors, and destroying structures
This is Canadian taxpayers' money going to one use only: to protect one corporation's pursuit of profit at the expense of our environment.
Destruction, theft, and lies
The HQ kitchen shack where I chopped vegetables with Sumac, Locust, Salal, and Sunshine on Monday has been destroyed, along with the rest of the Fairy Creek main camp.
There’s nothing left of this formerly bustling camp filled with energy and purpose but wreckage—fodder for the pro-logging people to say, with exaggerated disgust, “Clean up your garbage.”
If you see images on social media of the supposed mess and garbage purportedly left behind by the protesters, please understand that this detritus is the result of police actions. We didn’t make this mess. The police, and the excavators they hired, did.
The camps have been running with careful attention to cleanliness, safety, composting, waste disposal, and recycling.
The forest defenders aren’t allowed back in to retrieve their belongings or to clean up anything.
People's cars are being towed, and Teal-Jones is trying to make each of them pay $3000 to get them back. To be clear, these are not vehicles blocking the road in any way. They just happen to be behind the police exclusion zone.
Need I say this again? The police are operating in defiance of the BC Supreme Court.
I picked up my son after he was arrested for protesting.
Just to be clear how I felt about this, the first thing I said to him as I hugged him tight was, “I’m so fucking proud of you.”
I got a tiny taste of what it's like to be Indigenous in this province.
I joined my son and the group of arrestees and arrestee supporters on the green space they’d gathered on after being released from the Lake Cowichan police station.
They were just trying to regroup, eat a little food after being held for many hours, and figure out what to do next.
It wasn’t even 9 pm and we weren’t making much noise. A couple of RCMP officers hovered around the park, reminding us several times to move along and clear out.
I’m pretty sure this was because at least half of the arrestees were Indigenous. I’ve never been shooed away from anything by the police before. They have to face this crap all the time.
There's a lot more to unpack about Indigenous land rights and understanding colonialism. I still have a lot to learn. I won't say anything more about this for now.
On Monday, August 9, we all learned the climate emergency is becoming ever more urgent.
Not at all reassuringly, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres used the phrase “code red for humanity.” It's increasingly clear that some magic solution isn't about to come along and fix all of this.
This summer, BC is on fire and about to head into another heat wave with no rain in sight. Greece, Turkey, parts of the US, and Siberia are burning. Parts of Europe, China, and India are flooding.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan is falling to the Taliban and millions of people in South Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia and Madagascar are facing famine.
If we’re all doomed, why does one small corner of Vancouver Island even matter so much to me?
If we're all going to die really soon anyway, maybe we should just log the hell out of the province and be done with it.
I keep thinking about why I care so much, and I can’t honestly explain it. There are one million other places, one million other causes, that are just as important—probably more important. I know that.
I think it’s because it seems to me like Fairy Creek is a problem that could actually be solved quite simply. There is a common-sense solution and the BC’s NDP government has already promised to DO IT, in a document released in December 2020 called A New Future for Old Forests.
The NDP government got re-elected while promising to honour the 14 commitments in this document. They promised to halt old-growth logging until a viable new strategy can be implemented. This has turned out to be a lie. It’s infuriating.
The other reason I think Fairy Creek matters so much to me is that I’ve spent time there. It’s become a real place to me, rather than a random name/situation/cause.
I love the beauty of the forest and the river.
I love the commitment of the people there, their energy and creativity. Their persistence.
There are so many things that I don’t have a hope of affecting, except in my personal way of living: capitalism, colonialism, war, religion, greed, historical injustice, poverty, racism, billionaires. but with Fairy Creek, I guess I thought I could actually help make a change.
For me, Fairy Creek has become a symbol of all the things that humans could mess up—that we are so close to messing up—but that we still have the chance to save. I hope it's not too late.