August 9th of 2020 – Thirty forest defenders from all over the South island, including the nearby communities of Port Renfrew, Victoria and the Cowichan Valley, gathered at Lizard Lake and decided to set up a road blockade above the clouds—one thousand metres above sea level—on the Western ridge of Fairy Creek on Pacheedaht territory.
September 4th of 2020 – Elder Bill Jones chooses to go public with his invitation and release the first of many statements exploring the complexities of colonial coercion against traditional forms of Indigenous governance.
September 29 of 2020 – the blockade received a strong statement of support from the Union of British Columbia Chiefs (UBCIC), who issued a breakthrough declaration calling on the Province to implement all 14 recommendations of their Old-Growth Strategy Review report and for the immediate protection of key old-growth forest hotpspots, including Fairy Creek. Most significantly, their declaration called for government to assume responsibility and re-investment in supporting First Nations to break free from the economic dependency on the old-growth forest destruction of their land-base, a major policy piece in the transition away from the destructive legacy of old-growth logging, once and for all.
Late November of 2020 – The blockades entered their fourth month with no road-building or logging behind the two long-term fortifications of Ridge Camp and River Camp—and no injunctions, nor arrests. Now the longest continuous land-based direct action on this island in over two decades, the campaign was evolving quickly into a decentralized effort under the banner of #oldgrowthblockade, which would eventually become #laststandforforests.
February 19 of 2021 – Teal Jones officially served its notice of injunction. By this point, the campaign had established three primary blockade locations as well as several pop-up blockades that had prevented and stalled road-building, falling and extraction throughout a wide region of the Island’s South-Western shelf.
April 1st of 2021 – Much had changed. The campaign was no longer a leaderless, predominantly-settler/environmentalist movement. A community of Indigenous youth, Elders, and gender-diverse folx had come to invest themselves in Land Back, sovereigntist and cultural rehabilitation direct action work full-time and a wide, practical and analytical anti-colonial movement had spread within the campaign. The to-be-seated Hereditary Chief Victor Peter of the Pacheedaht chose to stand with Elder Bill and support the campaign as representatives of their community who say “no” to the deforestation of sacred ecosystems on their territory. Further, the work of relationship-building generated by continuous direct action had resulted in the establishment of a blockade in the Caycuse watershed on unceded Ditidaht territory.
Also on April 1st – BC Supreme Court Justice Veerhoeven granted an injunction that would eventually expose blockaders, journalists and legal observers to arrest and forcible removal from Fairy Creek, Edinburgh Mountain, the Caycuse watershed and the upper Walbran, to say nothing of the human rights violation of preventing coastal Indigenous peoples from access to their own territories. Eight months of trial and error, tireless learning and grassroots organizing would eventually be put to the test.
April 12th of 2021 – A letter was released and signed by band council Chief Jeff Jones and Hereditary Chief Frank Jones. It read that unsolicited involvement or interference with an ongoing Integrated Resource Stewardship plan was unwelcome on Pacheedaht territory. Though the letter claimed to speak for the nation, it was issued unilaterally and without community consent. While the Province publicly applauded the letter as an act of sovereign authority, E-mails revealed through an FOI request by Capital Daily revealed that the office of the Minister of Strategic Initiatives had collaborated with Rod Bealing, the band forestry manager for the Pacheedaht, on the letter’s release. A coordinated social media blitz by the majority of BC NDP MLAs and a speech by the premier in favour of the letter followed.
April 18th of 2021 – Elder Bill Jones and his niece, Kati George-Jim, released a joint statement criticizing the letter from the Pacheedaht band council. Elder Bill Jones, who had steadfastly asserted his sovereign Indigenous right as a title-holder to his land in welcoming and inviting folk to help defend the last stands of ancient forests, was unphased by the letter, along with the majority of blockaders. “Revenue-sharing agreements signed in duress between government and First Nations that silence Elders, women and youth community members from speaking out as title-holders exercising traditional responsibilities under Indigenous law to protect land, water and life, do not constitute free, prior and informed consent,” as a press release from the Last Stand For Forests media team put it.
May 4th of 2021 – A Western Forest Products worker targeted and assaulted an Indigenous youth at the Caycuse blockade. This violence prompted immediate press releases from the United Steelworkers Union, Western Forest Products and the Ditidaht band council. All releases condemned the act as racist and unacceptable.
May 17th-19th of 2021 – Rainbow Eyes, a coastal Indigenous land defender, was arrested in the morning and would be held until the 19th. Two days later, Kati George-Jim would also be arrested. Also on the 19th, anticipating a vote for a motion from the CRD to support the blockades, the Pacheedaht band council publicly scolded the CRD and demanded that they keep out of the conflict.
The month of May proved to be a fair template for the pace, complexity and violence of the colonial-industrial, extractivist response to ancient ecosystem defense through direct action. Over 100 blockaders were arrested in the first 20 days of RCMP enforcement. Support for the campaign, however, only grew.
May 30th of 2021 – Over one thousand supporters flooded the front lines and the true power of non-violent direct action was demonstrated. It took no time at all for a wide variety of non-violent resistance tactics to develop.
June 6th of 2021 – Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, condemned the province for tampering in the affairs of Indigenous nations: “It puts a brown face on accelerated old-growth logging and I totally reject that. I find this so offensive, preying on the poverty of First Nations people,” he said.
July 1st-7th of 2021 – A day, and a year, that cannot be left out of any chronology. Canada Day was cancelled this year in many places from coast to coast and, on Esquimalt/Songhees territory (so-called Victoria, BC), Orange Shirt Day was observed instead. Meanwhile, community members of Gambier Island, BC (Cha7élkwnech) deployed an Old Growth deforestation watch camp in defense of the “The Lungs of Howe Sound” (Átl’ḵa7tsem). The Gambier Island watch camp was the first “Last Stand” blockade outside of the South island area – and not the last. Only days later, another Old Growth blockade in Revelstoke, BC, named: The Revylution. “Fairy Creek is important, Vancouver Island is important, but it is happening on our doorstep, 30 kilometres up the road, and we have to speak up,” said Jade Harvey, executive director for Wildsight Revelstoke. The Revylution blockade exists in solidarity with Land Defenders from Sinixt, Splatsin/Secwepemc (Shuswap) and Ktunaxa nations, whose shared connection to the territory is ongoing.