SUBMITTED By Paula Katrina Ellen Johansson and team
Communities from all over the province have been co-organizing to come together in a massive show of solidarity to support The Declaration For Old Growth. The Declaration was created by the United for Old Growth Coalition.
The Declaration For Old Growth, initially endorsed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), has been signed by 190 organizations, ranging from small environmental groups to large unions (the BCGEU recently signed on). The Salt Spring Island United Church and Transition Salt Spring are included in the signatory list. It’s the broadest grouping ever to sign on together in solidarity with First Nations insisting that the logging of old-growth forests stop. Now!
A major purpose of this event, as well as demonstrating the broadest possible opposition to logging of old-growth forests, is to amplify Indigenous voices speaking out for old-growth protection. Over two years ago the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel (OGSRP), appointed by the NDP government, released its findings in their report entitled A New Future for Old Forests. It made 14 recommendations, including “immediate action to stop logging the most at-risk old-growth forests in B.C.”and calling on the government to “embark on a new, holistic approach to protecting old-growth forests.“
On June 2, 2022, the UBCIC called for the immediate implementation of OGSRP recommendations.
Still to this day, since these recommendations have been made, tens of thousands of hectares of the most at-risk stands have been clearcut, and destructive logging practices continue. These forests need our help. It’s time to show provincial lawmakers that the public wants these vital forests to remain standing for future generations. Together, we are united for old-growth. On Feb. 25, join us!
Rally organizers and artists have been collaborating to create a vibrant day of celebration to build awareness and show our respect for these important Ancient Forest ecosystems and the Indigenous nations that are calling for action.
This peaceful march and rally will begin at Centennial Square (City Hall) in Victoria (Lekwungen territory) at noon, proceeding to the lawn of the Legislature for a rally at 1:30 p.m. Indigenous nations are being invited to lead the march, and many on the speakers list for the rally are Indigenous. The rally will feature powerful speakers and performers: Chief James Hobart of the Spuzzum First Nation, Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht First Nation, Matriarch Rainbow Eyez from the Da’naxda’xw/Awaetlala First Nation, Afro-Indigenous climate activist Janelle Lapointe of the Stellat’en First Nation, and David Suzuki, just to name a few.
Various organizations, including Elders for Ancient Trees, Parents 4 Climate and Sierra Club BC have been coordinating art projects for this rally, gathering to paint banners and create large puppetry and sculpture installations for the day of the march.
The walk from Centennial Square to the Legislature will be an inspiring creative event to remember. Here on Salt Spring we have committed to create a forest of trees that can be carried through the rally. Volunteers have been gathering to create our forest and we will be continuing to gather and sew and build for the next three Saturdays. All are invited to come and join!
Making party workshops continue Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 4, 11 and 18 at the SSI Community Creator Space at SIMS (Salt Spring Island Multi Space, formerly the middle school) in Room 2.
Volunteers are also needed to help in Victoria. In the lead-up to Feb. 25, dozens of outreach volunteers for dancers, leafleting/store-front postering and other promotional activities are needed in Victoria. And on Feb. 25, the day of the march, rally organizers need at least 100 volunteers to carry many wonderful banners, to marshall, to help with set-up and take-down.
People who want to help should contact firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and phone number, and the type of volunteer work they are most interested in.
There is a bus being coordinated for all wanting to attend the rally who will be journeying from Salt Spring. The bus will take people from Ganges to Centennial Square on the day of the rally. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for children.
For more bus details, information on joining the Salt Spring team, or more info in general, please email email@example.com.
Are you a part of a local or non-local organization that would like to join the declaration? If so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the declaration, go to stand.earth/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/United-We-Stand-Declaration_Final.pdf.