Ada’itsx / Fairy Creek, Pacheedaht Territory:
Award-winning authors Lorna Crozier and Sylvia Olsen visited Fairy Creek on Tuesday morning to offer their support, along with entrepreneur and BC Green Party co-founder John Kidder.
“Everyone loved the poems Lorna read to us and the song John wrote,” said Diana Mongeau, one of the forest defenders who met the visitors. “They got kind of a real-life look at what we’re doing, lots of young folks swirling around the little shelter, arrested people coming back with injuries, a day in the life at Fairy Creek.”
Crozier and Olsen said they thoroughly enjoyed their time with forest defenders and Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones.
Lorna Crozier has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada for her work, which includes 15 books. Despite the cold and rain, she read two forest poems to the protestors, including one by her late husband, Patrick Lane.
She said of her experience at the base camp, off Pacific Marine where Granite Main is now closed with an industrial gate: “While I was being filmed reading a poem, just inside the gate near the main camp, deeper in the forest on the logging road, twelve protestors were being arrested by the RCMP. My poem was about how the rainforest changes you and how the trees in their deep listening hear even the words we can’t utter when we are in their presence. While I was reading, the rain was pouring down, and the sound it made on the trees, the ground and the hood of my jacket, was picked up and amplified by a nearby creek running over the stones. Everywhere was beauty, everywhere were trees and water and wonder.
“My friends and I hadn’t been allowed near the front line, though we’d been scheduled to go there with the Elder, Bill Jones. The RCMP had refused us access, a refusal prompted by concerns for our safety we were told, but the biggest threat to anyone’s safety seemed to be the police themselves.
“People at the base camp claimed that some of those just arrested had suffered injuries, and in spite of their bravery and their attempts to stop the logging, right at that moment, the big trees were coming down. These acts of courage, police violence, and the destruction of one of the few stands of old growth left in our province are all going on in Premier Horgan’s riding.
“I left the site feeling such frustration and anger over his lack of action. Both the young and the old, there at the invitation of Bill Jones, an elder of his nation, have been snuffed out of significance by our premier, who uses the elected chief’s permission as an excuse for his sacrifice of old growth to industry. The lives of those standing up against the logging company and the police, the lives of those amazing ancient trees, are in Horgan’s hands. How can he do nothing, knowing this destruction is going on?
Sylvia Olsen, a best-selling author of books for adults and for young readers, is also the mother of Green MLA Adam Olsen. She wrote her PhD dissertation about the effect of on-reserve housing programs in creating poverty among First Nations, and has continued to work in and teach about First Nations housing management.
Afterwards, Olsen wrote of her experience: “After a day in the rain at the Fairy Creek protest I was ready to warm up, dry off and have a hot meal. The protesters stayed. Some had been there for months. Their commitment was palpable as was the belligerence of the police and industry people. And so the stand-off continued.
“We heard that Teal-Jones is a BC family business and that it’s taking only the old growth. For such things as guitars? There is no sense to be made of such a thing. We watched the RCMP protect the company’s interests so it can continue to cut and haul and make its quick bucks. There is no sense to be made of this either.
“I stood in the forest and listened to the rain, the river and to Lorna Crozier read quiet poetry. I breathed in the clean, dense, life-enriching air and gave thanks that in this place I can still be nourished by nature. But then I heard the roar of an enormous grader and remembered that the gift of life provided by the trees was at risk.
“Back at the camp I listened to Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones share his thoughtful, quiet, knowledgeable, courageous, non-political pledge to be a witness…for the trees…and a beacon of hope for the rest of us.
“I left struggling to make sense out of the protest. Why are the front-line forest defenders pitted against industry who have been given the right to log? And against the RCMP bullies, who have been given the job of defending and protecting industry? And then the predictable results, as we saw yesterday—a young woman injured in the violence. All this while the people who are really responsible—John Horgan and his provincial government—sit back and watch. Come on, John, you have to be better than this. If you have no respect for the protesters you must have respect for the ancient forests…they are so much greater than all of us.”
John Kidder, who is also married to Green MP Elisabeth May, accompanied the authors on their visit, and sang a song he had written for the forest defenders. The visitors have promised they will return. Mongeau said forest defenders were grateful that the group had made the effort to visit them and were moved by the poetry and song.
Photos of Lorna Crozier: https://www.lornacrozier.ca/contact/index.html
Photos of Sylvia Olsen: https://sylviaolsen.com/about/
Lorna Crozier bio:
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Lorna Crozier has been acknowledged for her contributions to Canadian literature, her teaching and her mentoring with five honourary doctorates, most recently from McGill and Simon Fraser Universities. Her books have received numerous national awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. The Globe and Mail declared The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things one of its Top 100 Books of the Year, and Amazon chose her memoir as one of the 100 books you should read in your lifetime.
A Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria, she has performed for Queen Elizabeth II and has read her poetry, which has been translated into several languages, on every continent except Antarctica. Her book, What the Soul Doesn’t Want, was nominated for the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. In 2018, Lorna Crozier received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award. Steven Price called Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats), her latest nonfiction book, “one of the great love stories of our time.” Lorna Crozier lives on Vancouver Island.
Sylvia Olsen bio:
An author, story-teller, knitting designer, housing specialist and teacher, Sylvia Olsen is an eclectic mix of her creative and academic pursuits. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations and many are Canadian best sellers. Her knitting designs have received attention across Canada and the United States.
She has been a founding member of several First Nations housing organizations, the most recent being the First Nations Housing & Infrastructure Council for BC. She is also a member of the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs Committee on Housing & Infrastructure. Sylvia helped develop the curriculum for and teaches the First Nations Housing Management Certificate Program at Vancouver Island University. Her PhD dissertation was a ground-breaking study titled Making Poverty: A History of On-reserve Housing Programs, 1930-1996. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, Tex McLeod, and dog, Piper.