More than 20 members of the N’Quátqua band and their supporters began blockading Portage Road at the entrance to D’Arcy on Monday.
The protestors claim that their elected representatives went against the wishes of the area residents and negotiated a logging agreement between The N’Quátqua Logging Company and the Pemberton’s CRB Logging Company to allow for the removal of 81 hectares of old growth forest in CP16 near Anderson Lake. The protestors’ goal is to prevent logging trucks from entering or exiting traditional N’Quátqua territory.
The area, which was scheduled to be logged beginning on Monday, April 24, is winter range to mule deer. As well, it is a habitat for bobcats, cougars, bears, wolves and many species of birds. At least two endangered species, the rubber boa and the horned owl, are also indigenous.
On the highway sign reading "Entering D’Arcy", there is another sign, it reads: "Where are you Rich Coleman?" a reference to the forest minister. A few feet away is a similar handmade sign that reads: "Biologist Says No."
Blockade spokesperson Carol Thevarge makes it clear that what’s at stake is more than old growth timber; it’s also culture, water, animals, plant life, fish and the band’s heritage.
"This is a violation of our title and rights," said Thevarge. "There was no proper consultation process as far as we’re concerned. The majority of the membership here was never informed about the process."
Advertisements for consultation meetings were placed in publications on the other side of Anderson Lake. These newspapers do not service D’Arcy.
"The maximum number of people they say they got at a meeting was 15. We have 300."
The sole shareholder of the N’Quátqua Logging Company is Chief Harry O'Donaghey. More that 80 per cent of O’Donaghey’s constituency do not agree with his decision to enter into an agreement to log the area.
Thevarge said a vote revealed 81 per cent were against logging CP 16. Thevarge added the fact that their elected representative went ahead and signed a FRA (First Nations Forest And Range Agreement) was "a slap in the face."
A call to the N’Quátqua band office was met with a receptionist stating, "Chief and council are not commenting on the issue at this time. A press release will be coming out."
Calls placed to CRB Logging were not returned.
Protestors believe the FRA deal fails to meet the minimum standard of consultation and accommodation as described by B.C.'s Supreme Court, or by Canada's constitution, and completely fails to recognize the St’át’imc Nation as legitimate decision making authority on the land. Further, they claim that the per-capita formula of benefit sharing does not reflect the cash value of the logging operations.