Tsawout members upset with leadership’s decision to approve logging

Approximately 130 acres of two First Nations’ lands logged on Saturna after decision by chief and council

A picture of the area cleared of trees. (Nick Claxton)

The elected leadership of the Tsawout First Nation has given the green light to an extensive logging operation on Saturna Island, much to the surprise and dismay of many in their community.

The decision was announced Feb. 26 and some Tsawout members say there has been no consultation or communication from the chief and council, who made the decision.

Nick Claxton, a member of the Tsawout First Nation, has been visiting the area since he was a young boy and estimates almost a third of the reserve lands, 130 acres, have been clear cut.

The Tsawout First Nation has 955 registered members, with more than half living on a small reserve near Central Saanich.

“The only current standing land on which we can safely practise, celebrate and teach many of our traditional activities is on our reserve land on Saturna Island, activities we have been practising for thousands of years,” said Claxton.

“It is specifically Douglas Treaty traditional hunting and fishing land,” said Perry La Fortune, a member of the Tsawout First Nation.

ALSO READ: Vancouver Island First Nations Youth Ambassadors deliver message to the United Nations

“My grandfather had a campsite there since 1904 and my family have been using it since.”

The lands are jointly owned with the Tseycum First Nation near North Saanich, and members there report being confused, but acknowledge their leadership appear to have legally agreed to the the tree clearances.

“According to the Department of Indian Affairs [Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada], all protocols have been followed,” said La Fortune.

“They’re [the government] not supporting us. And when we asked council why they are doing this, the first reason was beetle infestation. Then after that powder worms, then today it is root rot. They can’t make up their minds.”

ALSO READ: Court approves First Nations Health Authority’s strong medicine

Since 2012, members of the two nations have been consulted about logging on at least two occasions, but the idea was rejected each time.

Those unhappy with the logging operations say, in their view, the issue is compounded by a lack of compliance with regulations.

Jesurun Marks, a logger and hand faller with eight years experience and a member of the Tsawout band, informally inspected the site and wrote a report citing a number of concerns such as bird nests and animal dens in the area, including a bear den, as well as environmental worries such as silt run-off, wind damage and not adhering to buffer zones.

ALSO READ: Hundreds of floating ‘Sponge Bobs’ help track ocean currents

Other members say that culturally modified trees have been marked for falling and they are concerned archaeological surveys haven’t been carried out correctly, with the possibility of burial sites in the vicinity.

Indigenous Services Canada confirmed that Chemainus Forest Products has been appointed to harvest 33,477 cubic metres of trees within Saturna Island IR No. 7 and that a timber permit was issued by the department on Feb. 26.

La Fortune says he asked council where the money from the logging would go and was told it would be put in a trust fund for the two bands in Ottawa.

He says that some members of the community will take direct action if the logging doesn’t cease.

For more information regarding the operation, residents can contact Jim Wild, Project Manager, jrwcons@telus.net or 778-846-6326


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Confusing parking lot blamed for cars tipping into flowerbeds at Peninsula Canadian Tire

Tow and repairs cost thousands, engineer says drivers’ responsibility, Canadian Tire stay quiet

Victoria Board of Education reviews its catchment boundary plans this week

Following consultation process, SD 61 ready to recommend shift in school learning lines

Saanich says it will take months to fix a sink hole that appeared during ‘Snowmaggedon’

Roads closed in the area after the sink hole first opened in early February

Suspect steals jewelry and ice cream bars in Oak Bay break and enter

Oak Bay resident loses $2,000 in gift cards to Visa Scam

New secondary school planned for north Langford

Province announces $18.6 million in funding for site

WATCH: Barbers battle it out in Victoria

‘Barber Battle’ saw stylists and barbers from across North America go head-to-head

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Oil and gas sector cautious as deadline on Trans Mountain decision nears

Trudeau government expected to announce whether it will approve pipeline for second time on Tuesday

Most Read