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Cortes ForestFest: Forest activism for all generations

September 19, 2012


by Carrie Saxifrage via Vancouver Observer

As September draws near, Cortes Islanders and other opponents of industrial logging are gearing up to protect Cortes forests from Island Timberlands. This weekend, a multipurpose “ForestFest” brought blockaders and friends together for strategy and inspiration. Preparations for ForestFest spurred completion of the “forest camp,” a long term camp area on private land for off-island activists for use in the event that Island Timberlands goes forward with its plans. ForestFest also provided an opportunity for celebration of the forest ecosystems, Cortes style, with hundreds of people walking in 3 kilometers to listen, learn, eat and dance late into the night.

Young adults: Coming full Circle

Many “children of Cortes,” now in their 20s and 30s, returned home for the event. They view defence of island forests as a way to give back to the place that gave them so much. “Our parents planted the seeds of forest awareness in us,” 30 year old Kioshi Kosky of Pemberton said. “We’re coming back to do what our parents taught us to do.”  Kosky remembers how the Klahoose First Nation asked his school to help with a blockade against MacMillan Bloedel in 1989, when he was a child. “Our parents decided that it was important to teach us about standing up to defend what you love,” Kosky recalls. “Now Island Timberlands plans to cut that same area that we protected back then. It’s come full circle.”

Amy and Rosemary Bockner grew up on Cortes and then spent years working in the tree planting camps. “We are witnessing the end of industrial logging,” Rosemary stated. “It can’t continue this way. My tree planting friends on Vancouver Island watch huge burn piles of trees that were deemed not straight enough for export. The pillaging is the worst we’ve ever seen it.” For Rosemary, the issue isn’t just about Cortes.  “Cortes isn’t unique in its problem,” she told the VO. “We live in a time when small communities and indigenous cultures all over the world are rising up against industrial resource extraction. It’s the only way left to preserve what our children need. If we fail, they won’t say ‘Thanks for trying.’ They’ll say, ‘Oh my God, we need fresh water.’”

Read full story on the Vancouver Observer.

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