Block A on Saturna Island Indian Reserve No. 7 where three community members and some Saturna residents were protesting the logging of Tsawout land. (Courtesy of Perry LaFortune)

Tsawout First Nation reaches agreement over logging stand-off

Chief and council to drop injunctions against three community members opposed to logging

Tsawout First Nation reached an agreement Friday with three band members who had been occupying the Saturna Island Reserve to prevent further logging of the land.

Tsawout chief and council had served three community members with injunctions after their protests led to the temporary suspension of logging on band lands – Saturna Island Indian Reserve No. 7.

Three blocks of land had been prepared for logging but due to the community members’ actions, logging halted after about 80 per cent of Block A had been felled.

The three members – who were supported by many in their community – stated throughout the stand-off that the logging decision was made without consultation and should have been put to a community referendum. They say familial links to the land and the Tsawout’s strong relationship with it made their protests necessary.

RELATED: Injunctions served to protesting Tsawout members still stand

“The decision to take our members to court was one that we did not take lightly, but we had to protect our legal interests,” said Coun. Mavis Underwood. “However, after extensive discussions with the band members, it became clear to our council that ultimately, everyone wants to ensure that Tsawout and Tseycum’s interests are protected.”

The chief and council agreed to not pursue an injunction in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on April 1 as previously planned.

The agreement also allows for the removal of the 80 per cent of timber that had been cut in Block A under a timber permit issued to the Tsawout and Tseycum First Nations.

“We are pleased that we will be able to get our timber to market and limit our financial losses,” stated Chief Harvey Underwood.

RELATED: Logging halts as Tsawout leadership launches legal action against members of their community

The parties have agreed to suspend operations on the remaining 20 per cent pending further discussions.

“This agreement protects our interests, while maximizing our economic returns, which ultimately benefit our communities and our members,” said Underwood.

Two other cut blocks, which were the subject of the dispute, but not part of the timber permit, will be addressed at a later date.

– with files from Nick Murray


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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