Splatsin and Secwepemc chief to join Bigmouth old-growth blockade July 11

Statement from the Splatsin First Nation and Shuswap Nation Tribal council Kukpi7 supports old-growth logging blockade in the Bigmouth River valley; Chief Wayne Christian to join blockade on July 11.

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RCMP and demonstrators interact on July 7, the day the Bigmouth blockade was announced. Although there is tension, a few laughs are shared. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

The Chief of the Splatsin First Nation will join and support the old-growth logging blockade at Bigmouth Creek north of Revelstoke on July 11 where he will conduct a ceremony.

“We will be conducting a ceremony to protect the old-growth forest, but also to protect the public who have decided to block access to critical old-growth habitat for our relatives the Caribou,” said Christian in a July 9 statement distributed by the Splatsin First Nation.

Watch: Old-growth blockade at Bigmouth. We talked with blockaders the day it was established.

 

Christian, who also serves as the elected Kukpi7 (Tribal Chief) of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, called on government to stop logging in the area, calling attention to mountain caribou, saying that logging in the area contradicts recommendations by caribou experts for protection of critical habitat, and also contradicts recommendations made in the province’s review of old-growth forest management report which was released last year.

Background: See our story and audio interview with then forests minister Doug Donaldson on 2020 deferrals, the old-growth logging report, caribou recovery plans and more here:

B.C. announces 40,000-hectare Incomappleux Valley harvesting ‘deferral’ as part of old-growth forest plan

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian is an influential regional political figure known in the area, and in Victoria and Ottawa. He has served six terms as the elected Chief of the Splatsin First Nation, and he is the elected leader of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, selected from leaders of nine member Bands.

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian. Photo: Shuswap Nation Tribal Council website image

For decades, Christian has worked to establish Indigenous healing and health systems in B.C. His visit and support of the blockaders brings a new focus and dimension to the blockade established on July 6, 2021, and is a significant development.

High winds forced demonstrators to take down many of the tents and decorations, but the blockade remains. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

“B.C., specifically BC Timber Sales (BCTS), need to cease all operations in this area. We have communicated this to BCTS officials on numerous occasions,” said Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian. “Historically, Southern Mountain Caribou were found throughout Secwépemc Territory and were harvested by our people for countless generations.”

See our story on Canada Day old-growth rally in Revelstoke here:

July 1 Revelstoke Courthouse rally opposes old-growth logging

In the statement, the Splatsin said that any further critical habitat loss will prevent the caribou’s security in the face of decades of human-caused land alteration.

“Caribou provided us with sustenance, clothing, tools, utensils, snowshoes and other necessities important to our physical and cultural survival. Splatsin has a sacred obligation as caretakers and stewards of our area of caretaker responsibility and has refrained from hunting Southern Mountain Caribou for generations due to decreasing population levels and diminishing habitat. We are working with various partners to reverse this trend.”

An installation of images of old-growth logging at the Bigmouth blockade site on July 7. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The Splatsin said as title holders and caretakers of the area, the, “Splatsin supports a reduction of the Annual Allowable Cut in its current format and immediate action to halt any further irreversible logging activities in these remaining old-growth interior temperate forests and until the culturally significant southern mountain caribou and their critical habitats are protected and secured for future generations.”

See our July 7 story from the blockade site here:

Video: Inside the old-growth forest blockade north of Revelstoke

The Splatsin encouraged people to join the blockade and also write the B.C. forests minister, Katrine Conroy, to stop logging old-growth forests.

The Splatsin people reside on reserve lands adjacent to the City of Enderby to the south and across the Shuswap River to the east, within the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwépemc, the largest Interior Salish-speaking First Nation in Canada.

On the blockade

The new Old Growth Revylution groups Instagram account seems to be the focal point of communications from the group blockading the Bigmounth Forest Service Road about 125 kilometres north of Revelstoke on Highway 23 North.

See our story on the announcement of the blockade here:

Old-growth logging opponents announce forest road blockade north of Revelstoke

Their week-old Instagram account has jumped to 1,888 followers, outpacing their Facebook page at 227.

They are posting photos and videos from the site. In a statement, the group said they let heavy equipment past the blockade on July 8 to go in and fetch other heavy equipment located behind the blockade, and that all went peacefully.

Blockade organizers say they plan to continue rotating blockades in the area until their demands are met. See our embedded stories above for more background.