On May 8, entering the third week of the Voices of the Old Growth Alliance blockade, the protestors seemed tired. As cars travelled along Portage Road towards DArcy, members of the alliance simply waved on the non-logging traffic.
The eight protestors, members of the NQuátqua and Lilwat First Nations bands and a couple of non-native supporters, sat in lawn chairs under a tarp to ward against the rain, a smoky fire keeping them warm. The NQuátqua members of the alliance were scheduled to attend the bands meeting that evening.
Reached by phone before the meeting with chief and council, spokesperson Carol Thevarge said the alliance was going to simply reaffirm its position. She said she was not expecting a debate or a change in their position.
In subsequent days leading up to Pique s deadline, neither representatives from the band nor the alliance could be reached for comment. However, according to one source, the blockade remains in place; at least until an injunction comes into play.
On May 4, a representative of CRB Logging Company, the NQuátqua Logging Companys partner in the proposed harvesting of the forest range above Anderson Lake, announced that the company would be seeking an injunction. This announcement came on the heels of a failed attempt at mediation on May 2. Talks between the protestors and band council broke down when members of the alliance called for the resignation of chief and council.
The option for a counter-injunction is not open to the protestors, as they would not have support of their band council in securing one.
The alliances grievances stem from what they say was an inadequately executed consultation process. They claim that Chief Harry ODonaghey and other members of the NQuátqua band council went against the wishes of the majority of band members and negotiated the logging agreement between The NQuátqua Logging Company and Pembertons CRB Logging Company. The agreement allows for the removal of 81 hectares of old growth forest in the area designated CP16 near Anderson Lake.
Alliance members also say that repeated requests that the band furnish information pertaining to the agreement have been denied. Furthermore, some members allege that there has been mismanagement of the forestry company by the band, including selling off equipment at substantially undervalued rates.
ODonaghey and council have issued a single press release correcting media reports as to the ownership of the NQuátqua Logging Co. (it belongs to the band) and explaining the financial responsibility the company has to its partners. The press release frames the agreement as being mutually beneficial.
According to a source within the alliance, the financial benefit to the band would be approximately $200,000.
The area which was scheduled to be logged in April is winter range to mule deer and is habitat for bobcats, cougars, bears, wolves and many species of birds. And two endangered species are also indigenous to the area.