protesters defy threat
By David Burke
Logging protesters defy threat
Proponents of N’Quatqua operation say they’re seeking injunction
A group blockading the entrance to the Highline Road in D’Arcy to protest plans for logging in N’Quatqua traditional territory remained at their posts this week in spite of warnings from logging proponents that they were seeking a court-ordered injunction for the protesters’ removal.
According to a statement issued by the Voices of the Old Growth Alliance, a representative of the logging contractor, escorted by RCMP and tribal police, read out a statement to the protesters last Thursday (May 4) warning that proponents were seeking an injunction if they interfered with the planned logging operation.
As of Sunday (May 7), no attempt had been made to remove the protesters, who were seeking their own injunction to halt the logging operation, according to Mariko Kage, one of the group’s spokespersons.
Attempts to reach the protesters early this week were unsuccessful.
The group has been blockading the road against logging vehicles since April 24. Its members say some 80 per cent of N’Quatqua members voted against the logging and that the community consultation done in connection with the Forest and Range Agreement (FRA) was inadequate. The protest group has concerns about the environmental impact of the planned logging.
Chief Harry O’Donaghey and his Council have countered that the logging has been in the works since 2001, that consultation was adequate and that the band will face “financial consequences and legal penalties” if the operation does not proceed. They also say only 45 of the 190 eligible N’Quatqua members voted in the recent logging referendum.
Kage told The Question last Thursday that mediated talks broke down last Tuesday (May 2) after the protest group presented a letter seeking the resignations of the Chief and Council.
“We had asked them for documents associated with the logging, and they did not produce those,” she said. “We already voted 81 per cent against this, and as far as we’re concerned they’re not representing the people.
Kage said that while it’s true the money from the logging would help many in the community, the group feels there are other ways to do that without cutting down some 33,000 cubic metres of trees in what she sees as an environmentally sensitive area. The group claims the band would realize a profit of $220,000 from the operation.
“There are so many ways to find the revenue if we can explore those,” Kage said. “But those options have not been explored. As a community, we can be resourceful. Logging cannot be the only option. It’s not economical. It’s bad business. We want our leadership to represent the people.”
During the May 2 talks, “the band agreed to proceed with a referendum on the FRA this July,” said the statement from the protest group.
“The protesters anticipate this ‘injunction’ and consequent arrests as they are determined not to move,” the statement continued. “They uphold that the N’Quatqua People are the rightful owners of the Traditional Territory.”