Protesters and forestry worker representatives were among those joining together to protest raw log exports at central Vancouver Island on Saturday, Oct. 30.
With a raw log carrier vessel in the background, speakers, including ones from Extinction Rebellion, Public and Private Workers of Canada union and the Wilderness Committee, spoke of the dangers of exporting raw logs out of Canada at a rally in Nanaimo.
Leah Morgan, Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo coordinator, told the crowd the aim was to unite all walks of life in solidarity to deal with the climate crisis effectively and immediately.
“This raw log barge behind us, this is literally exporting B.C. jobs and money out of Canada,” said Morgan. “These are unprocessed logs being shipped abroad for bottom dollar instead of being processed here and sorted here with the value-added industry that could be on top of milling our own wood. Countless jobs.”
Torrance Coste, Wilderness Committee national campaign director, said it’s not about ending logging, but rather getting more out of trees being cut down. The two issues cannot be separated, he said.
“We need to set aside vast swaths of forest,” said Coste. “That’s what the biodiversity crisis demands. That’s what the climate crisis demands. The forest that we are leaving open to some logging, we need to be turning them into more valuable things. We need to be spreading those benefits more efficiently and more effectively and more justly throughout our communities.”
Cam Shiell, sustainability officer for the @PPWCUnion, a major BC forest sector union, speaking at rally against raw log exports and for healthy old-growth forests in #Nanaimo right now.— Torrance Coste (@TorranceCoste) October 30, 2021
Ship in the background is poised to export logs, and jobs, off this coast.#bcpoli pic.twitter.com/mu1pYzgzd6
Cam Shiell, PPWC environmental sustainability officer, said he has lobbied both B.C. NDP and Liberal governments for policy change, but to no avail. The union has a long-standing history of advocating for a transition from old growth harvesting and the focus needs to be on second- and third-growth harvests and getting more value from the forests, he said.
“I am 43 years old and in my working career, I believe I will see the end of old-growth logging,” said Shiell. “Either it’s going to be transitioned out, phased out, or we’re just going to come to an end of the trees. For me, I don’t want to see a world with no more old growth.”
After the rally, a flotilla of kayaks and other vessels paddled out to the raw log barge in further protest.
Morgan estimated 70 people were present.
Organizers said police arrested a protester prior to the flotilla setting off.