–Post May 8, 2022
–Nina N on TRR-1
–Nina N on TRR-2
–Nina N on TRR-3 (This Page)
Talking Radical Radio
Nina Newington (continued)
Government inaction: “ it’s up to us to get in the way”
But it feels as though the government is once again probably playing us all for fools, that they’re saying yes, yes, we’re going to protect 20% by 2030, and they even put it into legislation. But there’s no sign yet that they’re doing any kind of landscape level planning to do that. They seem to just keep on issuing approvals to cut forests all through Crown land. And I think for the people at the Camp which, by the way, is quite a lot of people, I think my last estimate was that 80 different people have been physically at Camp and there must be at least 50 people who have rotated through camping there. And the people who come to camp share their knowledge that we don’t have time to mess around anymore, just as with CO2 levels rising, the loss of biodiversity across the planet is devastating. And our government seems to not have any great sense of urgency about this.
So it seems like it’s up to us to get in the way and start demanding action and refuse to allow the destruction of the last remaining mature forests in Nova Scotia, while they play games with us and say yes yes we’re going to protect it.
Making and sustaining a ‘Forest Defence Camp’
SN: what is it actually involved to make a sustained forest defence camp like this happen?
NN: The very first one we did of these in 2019 was literally a spur of the moment. OK we’ve had this rally out in this site where that saying they’re going to start logging, it feels really bad to go home and so we set up tents and began to figure out how you block a logging road. We’ve evolved since then and we learned that, you know, it really does help to have what we were loaned, which is a couple of prospector’s tents that can stand up to the winds on logging roads and in which you can put a wood stove.
It’s sort of glamping with the possible criminal record but you know actually really the odds of that in this particular site a very very low. So, having some infrastructure, having some access to things like that is very helpful. We actually raised enough money during that action that we were able to acquire a tent of our own of that sort. So, you know, there’s the need for camping gear and we find that people are quite willing to do things like lend us winter sleeping bags and extra stuff. But there’s also the organizational element of it and that very first one initially I was trying to do pretty much everything and I realized within about three days that I would lose my mind.
So somebody else in our Extinction Rebellion group stepped up and took over scheduling and just organizing the kind of who’s coming when, where, making sure they have directions, finding out what kind of vehicle they drive, figuring out all of those, you know who can come in together, what’s happening. You absolutely have to have that bit. You always need really good directions, it’s good to idiot-proof them which I did the first time by getting lost for about 2 hours. ‘Needing also somebody who’s gonna be a spokesperson, I mean it can be more than one person, we need at least one person who is reasonably comfortable being interviewed live.
Working out what you’re asking is actually pretty important. Ideally you have something winnable. So you don’t say, you know, we will stay camped here until all clearcutting stops in Nova Scotia; you say we’re camped out here to protect this particular forest. Cancel harvest plan and we can go home. Then it’s just people bringing gear, you know a wood stove, firewood, food cooking implements, that kind of stuff.
But also it won’t work if the people who are camping are not connecting to a wider circle of people who might not be up for camping on a logging road, let alone getting arrested, but are up for signing petitions and writing letters and donating some money and calling politicians. Many of us might feel like we’ve tried letters and petitions and marches and it doesn’t do enough but it doesn’t mean that those things shouldn’t happen. You need them to happen so the politicians can’t say ‘oh it’s just a gaggle of you know 10 looney tree-huggers out in the woods and nobody else cares.
So when we did our moose blockade, 37,000 people signed the Nature Nova Scotia petition asking for them to not clearcut that Mainland Moose habitat. We also find that people come who can’t come and camp overnight but they’ll come for the day and bring food, or you know, somebody came and made a chainsaw carving of a little bear out of a log and it was great; it was really fun.
At other points, when we were under a lot of pressure dealing with logging stuff, a couple of people in Halifax in the city went and did a sit-in at the Department of Natural Resources, demanding that they meet with us and were arrested and you know have gone through things… and that was incredibly good for morale to feel like, hey it’s not just us out here on this remote logging road; people are not only paying attention they’re being willing to step up.
My own feeling is that we all need to do what we can do.
And some people, for lots of different reasons, can’t risk arrest. I mean the way we have this camp set up, we’re actually not doing anything illegal at this point, we have a right to protest, we have a right to be on Crown land. So it’s important to value everything that people can contribute.
Beyond protecting the Last Hope Camp, what else we need to achieve…
So one of your demands then must be protection of this specific site. What else do you think the provincial government must do to move from their talk and log orientation to actually protecting forests in Nova Scotia?
We actually have also submitted a proposal to protect an area that’s considerably larger than just this forest and it includes a lake where there does seem to be old growth forests. So there are a couple of places that have not yet been decimated and we’re trying to protect them as well as this forest by putting in this proposal for protection.
If the Department of Environment were to put that – it’s called “under consideration for protection” – that would automatically bring a freeze to the road-building and cuts that are proposed for this bigger area. That’s in a way a stepping stone towards our goal which is to encourage people across Nova Scotia to demand that the government step up and get going with the protection of 20% of the province, that we don’t accept that they’re gonna keep cutting and then go ‘oh look I guess we’re gonna have to protect this land that’s already been cut’.
And some of what we’re doing is these workshops to teach people skills,like how to recognize Species-at-Risk, like how to use an app like Avenza to navigate through Crown land to find the cut block that’s under threat. Maybe we’ll have another non-violent direct action workshop taught by somebody else on how to block a bridge.
What I hope would happen eventually is that people connect to places that they care about near where they live and decide that they’re really not willing to accept those areas being cut and that they really do want them protected and they’ll do what they need to do to keep them whole until they are protected.
And I think people are beginning to just stand up and say not, not on my watch. And we’re really screwed if we don’t start doing that. It’s not going to be easy, for forests to regrow as climate change bites. I mean we’ve already seen here incredibly strong windstorms, sudden blasts of devastating rain. Nova Scotia is not really a wildfire as a natural part of the climate regime here, but there have been fires here, they’ve been connected to clear cutting, and we’re going to see increased strength of hurricanes.
Getting enough people to stand up and get in the way, I don’t know. You know that’s always a question, what it takes. I think most of the people who are coming to camp are either under 30 or over 60. And some of that is just that it’s difficult for people to take off from work, and they have family and obligations and so on and so forth. But if people were taking seriously what the science is telling us they might be expressing more alarm and more urgency.
What I hope is that we take action before it’s too late and we’re pretty darn close to that point. So personally that’s why I’m willing to go out and keep camping and keep saying no, keep saying we need to act now, keep saying you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing, we don’t accept it, we don’t consent, this isn’t something that you can keep doing and we’re going to get in the way.
To learn more
You have been listening to my interview with Nina Newington of the Last Hope camp. To learn more about it, search for “Last Hope Camp” on eco-action.ca.
To find out more about Talking Radical Radio, the guests, the theme music, and the ways that you can listen, go to talkingradical.ca and click on the link for the radio show.
Thanks, Scott, so well done. You have a new subscriber to TRR!
Thanks, Nina, so well done! To follow Nina/Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia, go to the XRMmNS Facebook Page
I try to keep with it all at nsforestnotes.ca/Current Issues/AP068499 Beals Meadow
– David P