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Why Europeans Care

  How Dare They Do This   Tree Activism: Europe  
  European Tree Heritage   Tree Activism: North America & Australia  

How Dare They Do This

Rare surviving remnants of old growth rainforest continue to be under assault by logging companies and face extinction in British Columbia (BC). Vancouver Island especially has suffered from MacMillan Bloedel and its successor, the American tree killing company Weyerhaeuser. One painful instance of ruthless corporate plundering is the destruction of Pachena Grove, clearcut in the late spring of 2006 (right). The 100 hectare old growth spruce forest at the mouth of Pachena River next to Anacla Indian Reserve was renowned internationally as the head of the West Coast Trail. A local indigenous owned company may well be the immediate perpetrator but Island Timberlands (aka Weyerhaeuser, MacMillan Bloedel) are the indirectly guilty, buying First Nations' collaboration by exploiting their economic plight.


Pachena Grove big tree destroyed, 2006
Photo: Phil Carson


Pachena Grove Cutblock, 21 May 2007. (Click to enlarge)
Aerial Photo: Tnano (Text added)


BC is running out of the lucrative coastal primaeval forests that have fueled industrial logging for over a century. In addition, indigenous land claims are increasingly being recognized in the Canadian court. As a result, the forest industry is rushing to "harvest" the last big tree stands, and devious deals are done between corporate and government officials and their co-opted native counterparts. The irreplaceable giant spruce grove at the mouth of Pachena River was massacred in 2006 (left), wrecking hundreds of aboriginal heritage trees. This crime was against the Huu ay aht community of Anacla. It also degraded the valuable wild salmon habitat of Pachena River and diminished the biodiversity of Pachena Bay and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.


Canada is gaining a bad international reputation for refusing to sign the 2006 United Nations Convention on Indigenous Rights. Also, at an international climate change initiative in 2008, Canada was condemned for its dismissal of the legal rights that indigenous peoples have over the forests they live in. Almost all BC forests are part of unceded territories that have been under dispute since the province was colonized by Britain in the mid 19th century. Yet from the beginning, transnational corporations have grabbed and plundered the profitable forest resources of First Nations across BC with impunity, while the native communities suffer from poverty, neglect and institutionalised racism.

Pachena big tree destroyed, April 2006.
Photo: Phil Carson


Pachena big tree destroyed, 2006.
Photo: anon (Click to enlarge)

The 2006 clearcutting of the Pachena Grove resulted not only in the loss of big trees but also indigenous heritage (above and left). This act of nature destruction at the head of the West Coast Trail was engineered by the forest industry and is an ominous sign of what is to come from the elaborately framed treaty deals being signed between the BC government and First Nations. Designed to give certainty to big business, the treaties extinguish Aboriginal Title and privatize Indian Reserves and Crown Land, thereby facilitating industrial resource exploitation.


"Ohiat Indian; Barklay Sound," 1870.
Photo: BC Archives (F. Dally)

Sproat was typical of the colonizers who believed that the absence of certain characteristic features of European civilization in "First Nations" justified classifying them as savages and therefore as part of nature over which dominion had to be exerted. At the same time, Sproat wrote that the amazing oratory skills of the Ahts were superior to the colonizers' and he described how he owed his life to "George the Pirate," a famed Ohiaht paddler and to Chief Kleeshin. An Huu ay aht whaling harpoon and rope collected in 1893 reveals great sophistication and beauty (right).


The Huu ay aht indigenous people on whose land Pachena Grove is located are described as Ohiat (also spelled Ohyat or Ohiet) Indians in one of the earliest popular narratives of native life on the west coast of Vancouver Island, by Gilbert Malcolm Sproat: Scenes and Studies of Savage Life (1868). Published in London, the book is a colonial account of the dispossession of the indigenous peoples, whom Sproat called "Ahts" (now known as Nuu chah nulth). Sproat describes the Ahts as a "nation" and although he ponders over the "right of any people to intrude upon another, and to dispossess them of their country," he concludes that "civilized men" have the right to occupy "savage countries." A photo of an "Ohiat Indian" was taken by Frederick Dally (left) at about the same time as Sproat's book appeared in Europe.

Ohiaht whaling harpoon, 1893.
Photo: Canadian Museum of Civilization


Left: "A Whale Ashore – Klahoquat," c. 1855. Painting by George Catlin National Gallery of Art Washington DC.

Nuu chah nulth people were made famous through late 18th century European expedition accounts. Decimated by epidemics brought by the Europeans, the Nuu chah nulth suffered a population decline of 80 percent over less than 125 years, until 1900.

The renowned Indian chronicler, George Catlin, depicted c. 1855 a dramatic scene of a stranded whale on Clayoquot Sound surrounded by hundreds of Nuu chah nulth people, many in canoes. The impending invasion of European settlers is indicated by a schooner at anchor and a steamship in the distance.


"Sea Hunters," Painting by Gordon Miller, 1983.
Canadian Museum of Civilization

The amazing skill of the Nuu chah nulth peoples as whalers has long fascinated Europeans. An historical painting by Gordon Miller (above) shows these "sea hunters" in a Nootka canoe, carved from a single ancient cedar tree. See the online exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization: Where Sea and Land Meet. Many of the earliest and most valuable Nuu chah nulth artifacts are held in European collections, such as the painted cedar mask featured on the cover of the exhibition cataloque of the Ethnology Museum in Berlin, collected in the 1880s by Adrian Jacobsen (right).


"Indianer Nordamerikas," book cover.
Ethnology Museum, Berlin


Huu ay aht house pole, Royal BC Museum, 2006.
Photo: Karen Wonders

Kiix?in was inhabited by the Huu ay aht for thousands of years and contains the best preserved remains of an ancient Nuu chah nulth village. The giant cedar trees used to construct Kiix?in are a valuable source of archaeological data: Building Quaksweaqwul (Dendrochronologia, 2005). The Kiix?in figures are regarded by the Huu ay aht as "first ancestors" who embody their close relationship with nature.

In 1882 Kiix?in became Kleeshan Indian Reserve 9 when the Canadian government established the West Coast Agency to confine the Nuu chah nulth peoples to specified reserves. In 1916 the size of Kleeshan was cited as 330 acres but over the years it has become reduced to 133.50 acres. The 1876 Indian Act and the 1893 Indian Timber regulations give Canada control over the economic exploitation of Indian Reserve forests, legislation that robs native communities of their resources and disregards the negative cultural and environmental impacts of old growth forest destruction.


Two Huu ay aht welcoming figures carved c. 1860 for a potlatch and feast are on display in the entry lobby of the Royal BC Museum (right and below). Originally the two figures stood in front of the Quaksweaqwul bighouse in the Huu ay aht village of Kiix?in (pronounced KEE-shun). In 1911 a collector removed the figures and in 1941 they were erected in Victoria at an outdoor totem pole display where they remained as popular tourist attractions until 1968: Thunderbird Park.

Huu ay aht house pole, 2006.
Photo: Karen Wonders


Nuu chah nulth hat, Smithsonian Institute.
Photo: Walter Larrimore

First Nations sustained biodiversity in their homelands for at least 10,000 years before colonization, because it was essential to their survival and also it was part of their cultural responsibility. A cedar tree, for example, was prayed to before its bark was harvested and the tree continued living afterwards. The traditional role of a hereditary chief has been to preserve the knowledge and resources of his people. Not much is left of the cedar resources in Huu ay aht territory, which has been ravaged by industrial forestry.

Huu ay aht Tyee Ha'wilth Tliishin (A. Spencer Peters) is seen on the right wearing a wreath of cedar and holding a ceremonial cedar talking stick. He lived at Anacla, next to the Pachena Grove and some have suggested that the destruction of this sacred place with its hundreds of culturally modified trees – many of them ancient survivors up to 1,000 years old – caused him such grief that he died prematurely at the age of 59 on 28 September 2008.


The government's control over Kiix?in was further strengthened when Kleeshan Indian Reserve 9 was abutted by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in 1977, and in 1999 when it was anoited a National Historic Site. Yet in 2006 a proposal was made to clearcut log 19,920 cublic meters of cedar logs from the Kleeshan Reserve. The tragic reality is that the ecological integrity of Kiix?in as an ancient indigenous heritage site is at grave risk. At the same time Nuu chah nulth culture, which depends on cedar resources, is celebrated worldwide as a living art form. A beautiful 19th century hat woven from cedar bark (left) is on display at the Museum of the American Indian. See the online exhibit: Listening To Our Ancestors.

Hereditary Chief A. Spencer Peters.
Photo: video still


People dressed in cedar garments.
Photo: Denise August, Hashilthsa

The species commonly called yellow cedar is especially valued in Nuu chah nulth culture. It is one of the few native species with a scientific name that tributes the indigenous people of North America. First discovered at Nootka Sound, the species has a complex taxonomic and nomenclatural history, beginning in 1824 as "Cupressus nootkatensis" (Nootka Cypress). It is slow growing and can reach well over a thousand years in age. But because of its high commercial value, not many specimens have survived destruction by the wood products industry. One exception is an ancient giant tree near Anacla that remains unprotected and at risk in a designated timber cutblock on Crown forest land (right).


Traditional clothes made of cedar bark illustrate the central role of the cedar tree (left). Indeed, "The Nuu chah nulth vocabulary includes a different word to name each size of cedar tree indicating its specific use. Indeed the Nuu chah nulth People could be called, as one elder put it, the Cedar People" George Clutesi Curriculum Program: Nuu chah nulth Traditional Clothing.

Endangered Nootka Cypress near Anacla.
Photo: video still


Phil Carson: On the Loss of Forests (Click to read)

When environmentalists idealize the values, traditional ecological knowledge and philosophy of First Nations. . . they fail to take into account the social breakdown, the alcoholism, substance abuse and drug use, the foetal alcohol syndrome that destroys the mind and spirit. Also there is the impact of residential schools, junk foods, pornography, and all the other social ills that have been imported along with the whiskey.

Add to that reserve politics made worse by government money being controlled by whichever faction can gain a 50 percent majority; cultural shame exacerbated by overt racism in nearby redneck communities; the impact of epidemics of disease; and the fact that many of these cultures were traditionally hunter gather nomadic families only removed by a couple of generations and you can imagine how susceptible they will be to the Machiavellian manipulations of big corporations and their government handmaidens.


Huu ay aht post, Anacla, Pachena River, 2008.
Photo: BC government, "Our BC"

Used for ceremonial occasions, a traditional "Nootka" war canoe carved from a gigantic cedar tree is dry docked at Anacla (right). Anacla Indian Reserve 12 was one of the 13 Huu ay aht reserves laid out in 1882 by the government of Canada. It is an ancient Huu ay aht resource and village site that was devastated by a tsunami caused by an earthquake on 26 January 1700. For more on the legend describing this event, see Steven Earle: Huu ay aht Earthquake. The only survivor was a woman called Anacla aq sop for whom the estuary was named. Like most colonial derived place names in Nuu chah nulth territory, Pachena Bay is a misnomer.


The 2006 destruction of the Pachena Grove at Anacla is a sorrowful instance of mismanagement and greed by the forest industry with lasting repercussions for the Huu ay aht and Bamfield communities. The BC government uses aboriginal culture to promote eco tourism (left), yet at the same time facilitates the industrial destruction of the cedars which are the basis of this culture.

Huu ay aht canoe, Anacla, 2008.
Photo: Barek


Pachena Bay was cited on a 1861 British Admiralty Chart and again by the 1864 Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition. It was mistakenly identified as a more southern location named after the Pacheedaht Indians (the anglicized name Pachena means "sea foam"). Today tourists from around the world congragate at the Pachena Bay head of the West Coast Trail. The huge stumps that litter the beach are relics of the primaeval rainforest that was clearcut logged (right). Not until 1977 was a coastal strip protected as part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Pachena Grove was partially included in the park until a murky land swap was engineered by the logging company MacMillan Bloedel. Less than five percent of valley bottom old growth has survived industrial logging on Vancouver Isand, yet in 2006 the Pachena Grove was sacrificed. This irreplaceable loss of big trees and biodiversity may have additional environmental consequences on Anacla such as land slides and flooding.


Ancient stump, Pachena Bay, 2008.
Photo: Flickr


From Primaeval Rainforest to Indian Reserve (1882) to National Park (1977) to Cutblock (2006)
to Subdivision (2009)       X – Pachena Grove      A – Anacla Indian Reserve

Above: Vancouver Island 1860 (Click to enlarge)
Dark Green = Old Growth Rainforest

Above: Vancouver Island 2004 (Click to enlarge)
Yellow = Logged Off Old Growth Rainforest

Above: Google Earth Map 2009 (Click to enlarge)
Green = Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Above: Google Earth Satellite Image 2009
Out of Date: Image Predates 2006 Clearcut

Above: Purple = Crown Land 2007 (Click to enlarge)
Green = Private Land Cutblocks

Above: Dark Green = Crown Land 2007 (Click to enlarge)
White = Private Land

Above: Pachena Grove cutblock, 21 May 2007
Aerial Photo: Tnano

Above: Subdivision of Community Forest 2008
Public Land and Anacla Indian Reserve 12



Huu ay aht First Nation Heritage Plundered For Port Alberni and Foreign Sawmills

Left and Right: Felled timber in Pachena Grove after clearcutting. Yellow tape and red spray painted numbers which identified the c. 400 culturally modified trees did not save them from destruction.

"The issue is the old growth Pachena forest. A Huu ay aht company is logging it, but it's run by a white guy. Only one fifth of the Huu ay aht want it logged and none live there. It is a shady land deal between some band members and Weyerhaeuser. It's Weyerhaeuser's land. Weyerhaeuser wants it logged and who better to log it than the First Nation? The hereditary chief was asked how he feels when he hears the trees fall and he replied 'It's killing me.' The logging is really about a subdivision to be located between here and Bamfield"
West Coast Trail Worries.


Pachena Grove Destroyed Spring 2006 by MacMillan Bloedel and Weyerhaeuser

Gone Forever: Gigantic Spruce Trees, Ancient Riparian Ecosystem, Salmon Habitat and Indigenous Heritage

"The fisheries, the cultural and historical values and the views have all been effected, if not destroyed. The Communities of Bamfield and Anacla were lied to. Without changing the plan on paper, Weyerhaeuser changed the plan in the forest. The company should be charged for its crimes including the destruction of the fisheries and cultural heritage" West Coast Trail Worries.


Private forest lands, Vancouver Island, 2007.
Map: BC Corporate Information (Click to enlarge)


In BC, contested indigenous land and Crown land has been converted to private land through schemes engineered by big business and their government accomplices. The first such conversion of questionable legality was the Dunsmuir Land Grab in 1883 which involved almost a quarter of Vancouver Island: this area is seen in green on the map (left). In the 1950s, Crown land was converted to "Tree Farm Licences" (pink areas) which today are increasingly being redefined as "Private Land" (dark pink). In 2009, as part of this conversion process, the government announced a new scheme of "Commercial Forests." For a shocking presentation of how little remains of the old growth forests, see: Wilderness Committee.


Land Grabs

"Defined Forest Land" (right). Corporate PR engineered with the devious 2004 Private Managed Forest Land Act. (Click to enlarge)

The process of legalized land grabs that began with colonization has resulted in the deforestation of most of Vancouver Island. In 1911 American investors got hold of the most lucrative forest lands and set up the first industrial logging operation in BC at Franklin River (the indigenous name is Owatchet) in Huu ay aht territory. In the 1950s the Franklin River Division was designated as part of a 452 826 hectare Tree Farm Licence No. 44 (TFL 44). In 2007 Western Forest Products identified a big piece of TFL 44 as its own " Defined Forest Area" (right). 2008 government maps show much of this land base as "Huu ay aht First Nations Area."


"Defined Forest Area 2007." (Click to enlarge)
Western Forest Products Ltd (Text added)


Right: Detail of map
by John Arrowsmith, "British Possessions in America" showing
Vancouver Island and "Wakash Nation."
Published in Philadelphia, 1804.

Right: Detail of a map by James Wyld, "North America" showing Vancouver Island and "Wakash Nation." Published in London, 1823.

Right: Detail of a map by Sidney Hall, "United States" showing "Quadra or Vancouver's Island" & Wakash Nation." Published in London, 1828.

Right: Detail of a map by Eurgene D. de Mofras, "Carte De La Cote De L'Amerique Sur L'Ocean Pacifique" with "Nation Wakish." Published in Paris, 1844.

Right: Detail of a map by John Arrowsmith, "British Possessions in America" with "Wakish Nation." Published in London, 1846.


"Man of Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island."
Painting from John Webber's engraving, 1784

The Nuu chah nulth First People, well known since the expedition accounts of Captain Cook were published in the late 18th century, are speakers of "Nootka"’ and ‘"Nitinaht," two members of the Wakashan language family. "Wakashan Nation" appears on all historical maps of Vancouver Island (left), yet the Nuu chah nulth are forced to take legal action to establish their Aboriginal Title.


Government Maps AKA Colonial Subterfuge (Click to enlarge)

Right: Map detail showing the Ohiet Indian Reserves in the West Coast Indian Agency, Department of Indian Affairs, Canada. Published in the McKinna McBride Report, 1916.

Right: Map detail showing the Ohiet Indian Reserves. Published title: "British Columbia Aboriginal Lands," Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2005

Right: Map detail showing the Huu ay aht First Nations "Land."

Published by the British Columbia government as the Maa nulth First Nations Treaty, 2009.

Right: Map detail showing the Huu ay aht First Nations "Area."

Published by the British Columbia government as the Maa nulth First Nations Treaty, 2009.


Logging industry signs, Bamfield Road, 2008.
Photo: Flickr

Bamfield Road was built as a logging road to service the Franklin River Division of MacMillan Bloedel and it remains the only road in Huu ay aht territory. Logging industry signs on the road were photographed by a tourist in 2008 (above and right). It is revealing that the map (right) does not even include the Huu ay aht village of Anacla on Pachena Bay. Some of the most lucrative stands of old growth forest on the West Coast were located in Huu ay aht territory, in TFL 44, and it is estimated that over 40 million cubic meters of timber has been logged from 1940 until the present.

"Tree Farm Licence No. 44."
Logging industry sign, 2008


"Map of Bamfield Road," 2008.
Logging industry sign

One sign claims the area "Tree Farm Licence No. 44" to be "cooperatively managed" by MacMillan Bloedel and BC's Ministry of Forests (left). In truth the vast profits made from liquidating the old growth forests have gone into private hands. In 1999 MacBlo was taken over by Weyerhaeuser, the notorious "cut & run" American company that sold out in 2004 when land rights heated up.


Franklin River Divison clearcutting, 1970s.
Photo: anon


Everywhere in the Franklin River Division area of TFL 44, the valuable old growth forests have been devastated by clearcut logging (left). None of the fortunes extracted from this timber has gone to the indigenous communities who have suffered great impoverishment since colonization and lost much of their archaeological and natural heritage. The BC government's bullying and rush to settle land claims by signing treaties which extinguish Aboriginal Title thereby giving "certainty" to the resource extraction industry is evident from the excessive amount of PR generated by the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. Headed by the former minister of forests, Mike de Jong is infamous and widely despised for his conniving style of double dealing with First Nations.


In addition to its unethical tactics in pitting First Nations against each other, the BC Treaty Process has come under sharp criticism for its lengthy duration, high cost and unimpressive results. The government's trumpeting of the Maa Nulth Treaty sets alarm bells ringing. . . one "PR Blip" is the digital slideshow photo of a Hayes logging truck (right):

Old growth cedar trees are being exterminated in BC and with them will disappear the life blood of West Coast culture. "Why the Hell would any Native or Non Native want to destroy these irreplaceable forests? Go have a look at Klanawa Valley; Hayes Forest Company had about five grapple yarders going steady there. Go look at Carmanah, same thing.

Go look at Walbran, same thing. I don't think the blame should be directed at a particular skin colour, but rather our provincial government for selling us out for a quick buck" West Coast Trail Worries.


Maa nulth Treaty webpage with photo of
Hayes Forest Services logging truck


Left: Instead of being condemned for his vile acts of nature destruction, the owner of Hayes Forest Services is honoured with a seat on the Royal BC Museum's board of directors.

Far left: Hayes logging truck on Bamfield Road, 5 April 2006. Photo by a West Coast Trail tourist.


This is what the co opting

of First Nations looks like


Vampire Dance by BC Premier Gordon Campbell – Sucking the Life Blood Out of First Nations

Making incremental treaty deals, Clayoquot Sound, 13 November 2008 (Westcoaster News)


MacBlo's Franklin River Division — Slash & Burn Cutblock — Sarita River — Huu ay aht Territory — Barkley Sound — 1998


Chief Louis Nookmiis (1880 – 1964).
Photo: BC Archives

. . . Sometimes the whiteman takes a few feet of the Indian Reserve and claims it, and I am afraid to say much to the whitemen. I often go to see the posts, and every time I go they are in a different place, and I always put it back again. I told Mr. Neil, the former Indian Agent about it. He said 'those surveyors know what they are doing but you do not.' That is what he told me. There is one small Reserve that is not on the chart. The post is there yet, and I want to know how the Government got hold of that land" Ohiaht Meeting.

The Royal Commission "cut off" (removed) 640 acres from Numukamis Indian Reserve No. 1 which was located at the mouth of the Sarita River, ignoring native testimonials that this was the the primary salmon river of the Ohiaht people. Chief Louis Nookmiis complained: "The cannery men are using a seine for their fishing, and they catch all the fish going up the Serita river." With 40 houses, Numukamis was the most populated of the Ohiaht communities. Two carved houseposts from Numukamis were collected by the Provincial Museum in 1911, one figure holding a salmon (right). Sarita River's once rich salmon habitat was destroyed by MacMillan Bloedel's gutting of the old growth forests in the Sarita Watershed, which is part of the Franklin River Division.


Ever since Nuu chah nulth territory was invaded by Europeans, the First Peoples have suffered the theft of their resources and land. An early recorded denunciation of this colonial injustice is by Huu ay aht Chief Louis Nookmiis (left) who was present at the Royal Commission meeting with the Ohiaht Indians on 8 May 1914: "We get the wood from our own lands to sell so that we can make or get our food. When we go to cut wood on Government land, the whitemen always chase us away and put us in gaol – that is the reason we have to cut the wood from off our own lands. . .

Numukamis housepost, 1911.
Photo: BC Archives (C. Newcombe)


Huu ay aht Clarence Dennis, 2005.
Photo: David Wiwchar, Ha Shilth Sa


The indigenous peoples were confined within reserves, like concentration camp inmates, while their resources were plundered and their children taken away and forcibly assimulated in residential schools. Huu ay aht Clarence Dennis (left), a survivor of the Alberni School, returned in 2005 to participate in a ceremonial cutting down of a holly tree at the entrance of the school (19 May 2005, Ha Shilth Sa). He explained that the holly tree had symbolized the pain suffered by generations of First Nations children at the school.

The family of Clarence Dennis has held traditional rights at Sarita Lake for countless generations. His dream to build a bighouse here was thwarted in 1999 when MacMillan Bloedel applied a new tactic to claim ownership of the unceded Crown land.


Clearcutting in the Sarita River Watershed, 1970s.
MacMillan Bloedel's Franklin River Division

Huu ay aht David Dennis (right), son of Clarence Dennis, is a witness to the continued abuse of Aboriginal Title and Rights. In 2004 he was co chair of the Southern Region of the Nuu chah nulth Tribal Council and in 2008 he was voted president of the United Native Nations Society. On 24 July 2007, he wrote an open letter to the Huu ay aht explaining why he was opposed to the Maa nulth Treaty: "You should understand that through this agreement, the non native governments are achieving their goals of 'finality' and 'certainty,' meaning that our laws are finished and their laws will apply and prevail over the land and over us. This all is designed to trump any future challenge to the authority and power of the non native governments over our communities" David Dennis: Open Letter.


Some 37 Huu ay aht salmon bearing rivers and streams have been destroyed by industrial slash and burn cutblocks (left). Yet instead of paying compensation, the big logging corps engage in secretive and devious plots together with their government cronies to exclude contested Crown forest land from indigenous land claims and environmental legislation. Their expertice includes the unethical practice of driving wedges between First Nations and breaking up tribal affiliations.

Huu ay aht David Dennis, 2003.
Photo: anon


Corporate PR greenwash that claims logging is conducted in an "ecologically & culturally sensitive manner" is easily exposed by using Google Earth: see an image of the Sarita River log dump (right). There is no hope for the restoration of Sarita River when the rate of forest liquidation continues at such a frantic pace. "Feel good" endeavours (ie. the 1996 film on Sarita River "Heart of the People") and scholarly work (ie. the 2007 thesis on the Huu ay aht, "As Sacred as Cedar and Salmon") serve only to obscure the brutality of the global wood products industry and its hold on local economics. Thus the government rushes to get treaties signed and Indian title erased. As David Dennis observes, the high stakes have resulted in his people "being tricked, bought off, and in certain cases misled" as to how "it will impact their lives and the lives of their children" Open Letter.


Log booms at Sarita River,9 January 2009.
Satellite photo by Google Earth


Basket by Francis Williams.
Photo: Burke Ethnology Museum

Dolly Watts McRae (right) is an accomplished First Nations writer, business woman and guidance counselor. Born into a hereditary Gitksan family, in 1945 she was sent to the Alberni Residential School which she attended until 1955. She says: "We are entitled to payment from the extraction of our natural resources. We are a proud people and we want to be self reliant. We want to ensure that our children have a future. . . . Do not sign treaties that will extinguish rights to the land. Instead, what is wanted is a settlement that will entrench their rights to the land that will lay foundations of Native self determination under the Constitution of Canada. The First Nations wish to have jurisdiction over the lands that are scheduled for development. First Nations have to become part of the decision making process in all areas such as parks, marinas, fishery, forestry, mining and so forth" An Alternative.


Numukamis Indian Reserve No. 1 was home to Fanny Williams (1919 – 1996), also known as "Naa naas a tuks." She was a weaver distinguished for her fine work: an example is the c. 1995 lidded basket made from cedar bark and grass in the Burke Ethnology Museum (left). Fanny is buried in the cemetery at Numukamis, or the Sarita Indian Reserve as it is also called. Traditional skills like weaving and carving require the preservation of cedar trees and the tragedy of their extermination cannot be cleansed by industry greenwash.

Dolly Watts McRae, 2008.
Photo: Westcoaster News


Opposition to BC Treaty Negotiating — Click documents below to read

Open Letter by David Dennis, Wasanc Listserve

An Alternative by Dolly Watts, Canadian Culture

Comment by Taiaiake,
Times Colonist Newspaper

Comment by Arthur Manuel,
BC Treaty Negotiating Times


Huu ay aht canoe, Bamfield, c. 1900.
Photo: BC Archives

Also Secwepemc indigenous rights activist Arthur Manuel has commented: BC Treaty Negotiating Times. The long range implications of the treaty deals are unknown. Ever since whites arrived in their waters, they have used Huu ay aht knowledge, including their modes of transport (above). The destruction of Pachena Grove in 2006 is an ominous sign of what is to come. Two Huu ay aht Hereditary Chiefs, Victor Williams and Spencer Peters (right), lived in Pachena Grove and surely they must have felt betrayed by its desecration due to the treachery of MacMillan Bloedel – Weyerhaeuser.


Professor Gerald Alfred (Taiaiake), director of Indigenous Governance Programs at the University of Victoria, writes: "If Canada were a country with a moral centre, its citizens would not be celebrating the achievements of the BC treaty process, they would be shouting out in anger against the immoral actions of their governments and the fact that they, as a society, are taking advantage of weakened peoples who are in the midst of social and spiritual crises, to enrich themselves, yet again" Taiaiake: Comment.

Huu-ay-aht hereditary chiefs, 2005.
Photo: Steven Earle


Clearcut forests and Pachena Grove (X).
Google Earth 2009 (Click to enlarge)


The West Coast Trail is one of the world's most revered wilderness treks and a hike must be booked years in advance. Yet behind the inadequately protected oceanside strip of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the primaeval forest is being mercilously clearcut logged – a shocking fact easily seen on Google Earth (left). No amount of government – industry greenwash can conceal the commercial greed that is destroying the last old growth remnants here. Until a land swap was engineered by MacMillan Bloedel, Pachena Grove had been protected within Park boundaries.


Signs at Pachena Point Lighthouse.
West Coast Trail


West Coast Trailhead.
Anacla – Pachena Bay


Southern Vancouver Island.
Map: Click to enlarge

The killing of 1000 year old spruce trees for their commercial lucre as wood products is an ecological crime. Primaeval spruce stands such as Pachena Grove are uniquely found at the sites of ancient indigenous coastal villages, and on Vancouver Island most of these have already been ravaged. Pachena Grove deserved heritage status yet it was openly destroyed in 2006. The Pachena lighthouse, in contrast, is a mere 100 years old and has heritage status. In 2008 its image was chosen for a postage stamp (right). More media attention was given to the mistaken flipping of this image than to the deliberate ruination of Pachena Grove. Both the value of this rare stand of ancient trees as nature heritage and its vital function as a carbon repository are unestimable. Unlike the Pachena lighthouse, which could be easily rebuilt, old growth forest biodiversity as found in the Pachena Grove can never be restored or recreated once it is gone.


Less than six percent of the ancient forests of Vancouver Island are protected and some of the most valuable timber in the Pacific Rim National Park (left) has already been logged. Tourists travelling to the West Coast Trail from Port Alberni see nothing but cutblocks. Pachena Grove was the only old growth stand remaining on Bamfield Road and its senseless destruction will have a longterm detrimental impact on tourism in the area.

Pachena Lighthouse postage stamp, 2008.
Photo: Government of Canada


3 June 2006

"I could not believe the so called selective logging they did behind the West Coast Trail. I drove back there in the fall: there are no forests left between the Klanawa and the Darling Rivers. Black Lake and Michigan Lake were pounded as well. You must have noticed the Pachena cutblock buffer: what a mess. The elected chief says 'no more logging of private land' yet he is logging every speck of that private land. The violations committed in the forests are mind boggling" West Coast Trail Worries. 11 June 2006

"Weyerhaeuser promised the town of Bamfield a buffer zone would be left between the Pachena cutblock and the Bamfield Road. This was so that tourists would not see the devastation of the last unprotected spruce grove on southern Vancouver Island. Weyerhaeuser took part of the Community Forest yet the town was not even notified about the clearcutting: that's against the BC treaty process. Before when tourists came to this town we were proud to have the last intact old growth forest on the Bamfield Road. Pachena Grove was a magical site, like Cathedral Grove. Now its just another clearcut" West Coast Trail Worries.

Tourists hiking the West Coast Trail pass abandoned relics of the logging industry such as the rusting "Empire" donkey engine (right) used to destroy countless big trees in its day. Not far inland from the Trail, forest liquidation continues today. The massive cutblocks seen on Google Earth degrade the protected forest fringe along the ocean by leaving the surviving big trees vunerable to storms and blowdown.


"Empire" donkey engine, 2007.
Photo: Flickr


Big tree on West Coast Trail, 2006.
Photo: Flickr (Click to enlarge)

Along with the scientists who want to preserve biodiversity and the tourists (above) who want to experience the big trees of the West Coast Trail, are the communities of Anacla and Bamfield who know that ecotourism is one of the few economic opportunities that remain viable after the demise of the once lucrative fishing and forest industries. It seems ironic that students from around the world travel to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre to conduct field research on rainforest and fisheries biology. Yet at the same time the ancient trees that are the keystones of this ecology are being ruthlessly exterminated. In Bamfield itself, only one giant tree, often photographed, remains (right).

Due to the commercial value of ancient trees, they are not only clearcut logged using huge grapple yarders, but also targeted in remote areas by helicopter logging operations. Corporations spend big bucks on PR to cover up their eco crimes and vaunted certification schemes are surreptitiously put into practice, while the public is stuck with the long term burden of restoring ravaged community watersheds.


The immeasurable value of big trees as reservoirs of intact biodiversity is ever more critical as ecologists report that climate change is contributing to an increased mortality rate of the giant inhabitants of old growth forests (January 2009, Science Magazine). They fear a sudden and widespread "dieback" may result that will devastate the already endangered native forests of the Northwest Coast, leaving fewer living trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Ancient cedar tree, Bamfield, 2008.
Photo: Flickr


Left: Click image to read the West Coast Trail Worries

The communities of Bamfield and Anacla lost an important part of their natural heritage with the clearcutting of the stand of ancient spruce trees at Pachena Grove, originally part of the 1977 Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Weyerhaeuser employee Stan Coleman is accused of lying when he promised that no damage would be done to the fisheries or to the unique history of the area.

Macmillan Bloedel and its successor Weyerhaeuser maneuvered the destruction of Pachena Grove using the slick forest industry lobbyist Linda Coady. The unethical and devisive manipulation of impoverished indigenous communities and the wrecking of rare natural monuments and aboriginal heritage are the hallmarks of resource exploitation in BC. Assisted by irresponsible government agents and their underhanded deals, logging companies use frequent takeovers and name changes to avoid public condemnation. Weyerhaeuser, for example, sold out in 2004 to Brascan which was then flipped to Brookfield, a Bahamas registered corporation with no ties to BC communities.


West Coast Trail, Pachena Bay, July 2008.
Photo: Tracy and Joe


Logging truck on Bamfield Road, 2008.
Photo: Flickr


Another act perpetrated by industry and government was the sabotage of the Bamfield Huu ay aht Community Forest. See the online discussion: West Coast Trail Worries. Charged for his criminal mafia deals, Jack Purdy's victimizing of Bamfield has been a well publicized scandal. See: Baffled in Bamfield (Vancouver Sun, 6 September 2002). Ever since Huu ay aht lands were invaded by colonists in 1860, the indigenous people have suffered from the racist policies of imperial culture. Stolen forest resources and timber export were at the heart of the founding of Bamfield and BC's first sawmill on the Alberni Canal. See David Rossiter: Lessons in Possession. It is unacceptable that today colonial style abuse continues disguised as celebratory rhetoric in treaty negotiations.


Primaeval forest log dump near Kennedy Lake in Rankin Cove, Clayoquot Sound
Photos by Suzanne and Steve Lawson, March 2008 (Click to enlarge)


Measuring an endangered big tree, 2008.
Photo: Friends of Clayoquot Sound


A new "war in the woods" arose in 2008 over old growth logging in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere. Since the 1993 protests, the logging industry and BC government have plotted how to render ineffective the worldwide condemnation of rainforest destruction here, coming up with the ruse of "native logging." Thus the incremental treaty signed with the Tla o qui aht First Nation on 13 November 2008 set alarm bells ringing, especially as it is part of the wider chopping up of First Nations territories already set in motion.


Above: Watercolour entitled "Coast of Vancouver Island, off Clayoquot Sound, June 30, 1874." By Henry Wood Elliot, Smithsonian Institution.

Left: Engraving entitled "An Indian with a flag of truce in Clayoquat [sic]." Unknown engraver and source, BC Archives.

The rich fisheries off the West Coast of Vancouver Island have been severely depleted since the 1874 painting of natives fishing the halibut shoals (above). Also the forest resources have been robbed from the indigenous peoples, leaving the land degraded and salmon rivers ruined. Of all Northwest Coast communities, the Tla o qui aht were most famed for their ferocity and resistance to the colonial invaders.

The engraving of Chief Wickaninnish (left) likely relates to a true event at Clayoquotin 1811. But the Chief's "flag of truce" was a colonial invention. The context of today's treaty process is similarly suspicious and has been rejected by Tla o qui aht muschim (community members). Reference: Chiinuuks (Ruth Ogilvie): Muschim Raise Treaty Concerns