Broken promises — when will the BC NDP suspend logging activity in Kwakiutl territory?

Apr 17, 2023 | 42-4, Blog, Environment, Governance, Indigenous, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 1 comment

The BC NDP have repeatedly promised to protect old growth forests & meaningfully engage with First Nations. They promised a paradigm shift & a deferral on all at-risk old growth. Yet, old growth within this deferral area is actively being logged on Kwakiutl territory.

These culturally significant & biologically rich old growth stands are being cleared against the community’s will. Cuts were approved without consultation, leading the Kwakiutl to issue a letter to the Minister of Forests demanding the logging stop.

Recently, logging operations have led to landslides, sloughs & tree blowdowns, sending debris into the Cluxewe River. This is critical salmon-spawning habitat.

The BC NDP said these forests wouldn’t be touched until a plan to protect its old growth stands had been created — it hasn’t. While this government continues to make sweet-sounding promises, they are more than happy to cut first & ask questions later.

Amidst calls for a moratorium, a secret forestry deal has been approved between some elected officials & logging companies. Today I asked Minister Ralston if he would suspend all activity in Kwakiutl territory & share the new agreement with the Nation’s members. Instead of answering, he restated the BC NDP’s commitment to reconciliation — meaning reconciliation with those who agree with them.

Lemare Logging Ltd has already harvested several stands & is building roads towards the next set of trees. Urgent action is needed to curb the destruction of one of Vancouver Island’s last old growth forests. The BC NDP must step up & fulfill their broken promises.


A. Olsen:
This government promised to protect old growth forests and meaningfully engage with First Nations. They promised a paradigm shift in how our forests are managed. They promised to defer at-risk old growth.

Despite these promises, stands of old growth forests are currently being logged in Kwakiutl territory. Culturally significant and biologically rich old-growth stands are being clear-cut against the community’s wishes.

In a letter they wrote to the Minister of Forests, it says: “At the heart of the matter is the simple fact that no consultation or basic information-sharing has ever occurred with our Kwakiutl membership, our Hereditary Chiefs or the Matriarchs of our tribe. This deal was negotiated and concluded in secret without the free, prior and informed consent of the true stewards of our lands and territory. Thus, the laws of British Columbia and the laws of the Kwakiutl Nation have been violated.”

Some of the recent cut blocks are within the at-risk old growth prioritized for the deferral by this government.

My question is to the Minister of Forests. Kwakiutl leaders have unequivocally called for deferrals of all old-growth logging within their territory. It’s been adopted by policy and enshrined by their land use plan. Why then did this government approve old-growth logging in their territory?

Hon. B. Ralston:
The issue that has arisen in this territory is that the elected Nation has received a tenure of 53,000 cubic metres a year, and they have the permission and the right to log that. There is a dispute internally between that elected group and the hereditary leadership of this Nation, which is being resolved through internal discussion.

Our policy on old growth is one that is provincewide. We have deferred 2.1 million hectares of old growth, and we’re aiming to add more to that. The effect and the implications of that kind of change are massive, and we are working our way through the complications that arise from the implementation of this policy, but generally, the policy has been well received by forest companies, by First Nations, by communities and by NGOs.

Deputy Speaker:
Member for Saanich North and the Islands.

A. Olsen:
It appears that the type of reconciliation that this government is embracing specifically in this case is reconciliation with those who agree with them. Of course the forest industry is going to be happy that while the internal disputes within the Kwakiutl Nation are being resolved, the old growth that should be deferred is being logged. That’s the kind of reconciliation that’s being delivered on the other side of the House.

The hereditary chiefs, matriarchs and community members have been calling on this government to halt logging of old growth. They’re asking the Minister of Forests to share the forestry deal with the Kwakiutl membership that they haven’t been able to see — the group that the minister is partnering with. The hereditary chiefs and the matriarchs haven’t had a chance to review this content and assess its ramifications. That’s what they’ve been asking for. This minister seems to be okay with just allowing the anger and the frustration within the community to foment while the old growth continues to fall in their territory.

In their letter, they note that they’re prepared to go into their territory and protect it if necessary, but that’s really the job of this forest minister to do that. They shouldn’t have to do that. So to the Minister of Forests, will the minister suspend all activity on the ground in the Kwakiutl territory, including the cutting and roadbuilding, and share the agreement as the community has requested?

Hon. B. Ralston:
One of the ways in which this policy is being implemented is through forest landscape planning. That is in contrast to the previous arrangement where a logging plan was simply presented to the ministry and approved or not approved. This process will involve communities, whether it’s Indigenous Nations, the community, the companies, or labour and their representatives in a community-focused regional process to come to a durable agreement about how any particular part of our forest should be harvested.

That’s the process that we are advancing in a number of jurisdictions throughout the province. It’s been successful. It’s been well received. I’m expecting that within this region, similar results will follow.

1 Comment

  1. Leslie Dickie

    THIS process is NOT successful in our territory! Meaningless words from a Minister that can do better!

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