By Cindy Filipenko
The N’Quátqua band members who are currently blockading Portage Road at D’Arcy will be entering mediation with Chief Harry O’Donaghey and council on Tuesday afternoon.
The band members are blockading the road against logging trucks in an effort to stop the logging of more than 85 hectares of forest. The action began a week ago. To date only logging trucks are being denied access to the area.
According to The Voices of the Old Growth Alliance member Mariko Kage, the chief and council agreed to meet at the table late last week. The alliance met with its legal counsel on Saturday, April 29 to develop a negotiating strategy.
“We have been demanding for the disclosure of information about how the consultation process worked and how the decision to log was made for over five weeks,” said Kage. “Our legal counsel advised us to stay firm and demand what we need.”
Mediating for the two groups will be Chief Nathan Matthews of Shuswap Tribal Council.
Support for the blockade gas come from members of other bands, including Chief Gary John of Seton and Lil’wat elders from Mount Currie.
“The Mount Currie elders have been consistently showing up to support us, which is really great,” she said. “So many of us are moms with kids and sometimes sick kids. And dads who have to work. It hasn’t been easy.”
Kage also had great praise for the RCMP.
“The RCMP have been very kind, passing messages between the encampment and the band.”
Chief O’Donaghey and other members of the band were not available for comment. However, a press release dated April 26 and signed by Chief O’Donaghey and three council members reaffirmed the group’s support of the logging. The press release outlined a number of unspecified financial benefits band members could expect.
As well, the press release refuted the alliance’s claim of protecting “old growth” forest. “Most of the timber, (80 per cent) to be harvested is less than 200 years old and 45 per cent of the total cut is second growth, which is less than 141 years old.”
The release also stated that if the logging does not proceed the N’Quatqua Logging Company and the band will face financial losses and legal penalties. N’Quatqua Logging Co. would also lose its cutting quota and the area would likely be harvested by another forest company.