Post on Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia
January 31 at 12:59 PM ·
Here are some notes from the Last Hope camp, to give you the flavour of what is going on:
“If you can do it peacefully and honorably, there is nothing more powerful than getting in the way of what damages the Earth – and it works.”
– Alexandra Morton, Salmon Protector
January 30th marks sixty days of camping out on the South Mountain near Beal’s Brook, a few kilometres west of Highway 10, getting in the way of plans to log a forest, a forest Bowater Mersey spared twenty years ago, back when they were the ones clearcutting everything in sight.
The Bowater pulp mill went under.
Ten years ago Nova Scotians bought back these lands. They became ‘crown’ land again, these unceded, unsurrendered lands.
Six years ago the province created WestFor and put them in charge of managing all the ‘crown’ land in western Nova Scotia. Now they want to cut the forest that even Bowater spared.
Stars sharp in the dark, dark sky. Minus 25 outside, minus 5 in the old prospectors’ tent at dawn. The fret of firewood; ice collecting on the eaves; the kindness of strangers who broke a path to camp in their big truck when we couldn’t find anyone to plow 4km of logging road. The driver gave us the key to his house. Looked around the 10 x 12 tent three of us had been holed up in for days.
“Like being kids,” he said.
“Yes,” we said.
“Don’t need much.”
He gave us cigarettes and booze, wouldn’t take money for gas. Later, when he’d asked around and couldn’t find anyone to plow us out, he texted, “Nobody has balls to attempt it except for the filthy few.”
We filthy few.
What happens when you go and get in the way in the place where damage is about to happen?
You meet people.
People who come to camp out.
People who bring you firewood even though they have never supported a protest until now. People who make you meals.
Lend you tents.
Come and help put them up. Or simply stop their snowmobiles for a chat.
And people meet you. They see that you too are practical people.
What we are doing is profoundly practical. We are camped beside this forest because we learned of the plan to cut it days before the cut was due to start. It was practical to get in ahead of the harvesting equipment.
Practical – doable – and also wildly romantic. How will it end? No idea. We’ll do what we can. Why? Because we must.
Practical – actual – and also symbolic. It is always a story.
We make ourselves vulnerable to the elements, to chance, to strangers, to the government and its powers of enforcement. Who we are, what we care about is revealed. There is much we don’t know. Mysterious strangers come to town and leave again.
A couple of days after the first big snow storm, a gray truck guns through camp and on up the unbroken road. Out of sight, it turns around and drives back through, no sign of seeing us. The contractor, checking whether our ally’s tracks in the new snow meant we had pulled out?
We’ve been told the contractor is dropping off a bulldozer. Equipment is coming in any day.
Instead the District Chief of Kespukwitk comes to camp with her infant daughter and her mother, bearing gifts, including a flag, the flag of the seven traditional districts of Mi’kma’ki.
The flag flies over our camp on the spot the lumber company flattened and smoothed to receive the logs they planned to cut. A hundred years ago, on this exact spot, settlers built a hunting camp called Last Hope. Game was already scarce by then but here the moose were still plentiful. There are still moose here. They need this forest more than WestFor’s mills do. So do the endangered wood turtles and the rare lichens that have recently been identified in the proposed harvest block. Our commitment to protecting this forest has only deepened.
This is the comment made by Gary Metallic Sr on our January 22nd post about the District Chief’s visit on the Peace and Friendship Alliance Facebook group. He gave us permission to copy it:
“It warms my heart to see the 1st District Kespukwitk District Chief Marilyn Leigh Francis and her family and allies at your protection camp. Their visit is not to only be seen as a symbolic visit within their still Unceded 1st District homelands, but their presence at your protection camp means that you as the non Mi’gmaq allies protectors are there by their invitation which the N.S. Provincial government cannot label you as trespassers.
Further it is their 1st Districts Original kespukwitk’s governing systems recognition of your commitment and sacrifices made for the protection of all the wildlife, fauna and waters in their Unceded Ancestral District territory.
We the 7th District Gespegawagi Overseers Tribal governing system formed a similar alliance back in 2017 with the Quebec environmentalist who had also setup their Protectors River camp in our Gespégawagi traditional territory to stop an oil and gas company from drilling for oil near a salmon river. The Quebec govt tried to charge them for trespassing and dismantle their camp, they asked our 7th District Tribal council to write a letter to the Quebec govt that they were there at our invitation within our still Unceded 7th District homelands.
Once that letter was sent to the Quebec govt they stopped their threats to dismantle the environmental protectors camp because they didn’t want an Aboriginal title case in the Quebec Superior court. Nice to see the Original Seven Districts Nation flag, find a high pole to tie it to, that flag that will fly at that camp affirms that it is on still Unceded Mi’kmaq lands, Welalieg.”
The story of our camp continues to unfold amid the big stories of Indigenous peoples re-asserting traditional forms of governance while colonial governments continue to approve the destruction of nature. And all the while CO2 levels are rising again. Along the way there are small gains. Thanks to the discoveries of a lichen enthusiast willing to wade through deep snow, a temporary halt has been placed on the proposed cut. The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables has promised a lichen survey of the whole block. They say it will be done this week, even though another 35cm of snow have fallen with as much again in the forecast for Friday. Presumably they are in a rush to lift that temporary halt they put on the cut. We’ll see what happens next. We’re not going anywhere.
If you would like to come and camp or otherwise support us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The easiest way to donate is by e-transfer to email@example.com. Forest Protectors is the name to use.
These are links to some recent articles about the camp: https://www.nationalobserver.com/…/rare-lichen-puts…
Finally, from this excellent short XR video, https://youtu.be/xbeXMkdvXmE,
‘We must go into resistance’ and ‘Everyone is welcome and everyone is needed.’
XRNS /Forest Protectors
#ClimateCrisis #biodiversityloss #savetheforest