Clayoquot Comments

Version 2.3 December 1, 1993
1993, Stephen Samuel [(604)876-0426 or samuel@bcgreen.com]

Collective Copyright 1993, Stephen Samuel. All rights reserved. This text may only be freely reproduced, transcribed, duplicated and/or re- transmitted under the the provisio that such reproduction, transcription duplication and/or retransmission be done *in its entirety, including this statement*. Any other use may be in violation of copyright and subject to prosecution. All edits must be OKed by me. (Summary: Always copy the *whole document*.)

The reason for this restriction is that I promised all of the people named here, whose comments I transcribed that their words would be reproduced as is, except for grammatical and spelling correction.

The night before the concert, I mentioned to a fellow protester that I had my PowerBook with me, and I would like to type in verbatim thoughts of participants during the return trip on the Ferry. A friend of this protester (Geoff Skinner, the first commentator) recognized me (using my powerbook at the time), and asked me how many comments I had gotten. I said "Hunh?" (having had little sleep in the days before), and he reminded me of the original conversation. -- Thank you Geoff. The rest of the ferry trip was spent typing in the comments of everybody who was at the concert that would give me a comment. As you will see, the fluffiest of the comments here is above the average of what I had expected.

Some quick notes:

  1. This is a completely uncensored text. The notes below are what I typed in. My comments are in double parens ((like this)) The rest is direct quotes with nothing removed. I asked people if they would be willing to have their names attached to their quotes, but did not require it.
  2. The promise I made to everybody was that their comments would be published as-is with no editing. I have included ALL the comments that I could, and from ALL of the participants who talked to me (limited only by my typing speed, and - when my batteries ran out again - my writing speed).
  3. For most Vancouverites, the trip to the concert site is 6 hours in each direction. Many people drove through the night to be there.
  4. With the exception of myself and Rob Wickham, All of the commentators appeared to be in their teens, or early 20s.
  5. Even though I had a good idea as to what kind of people were at the blockade, I was completely blown away by the difference between the comments that I received and the impression one gets of most protesters from the general media. Thus, I feel the copyright statement at the top is necessary to avoid possible corruption of these sometimes eloquent words..

The Comments


Geoff Skinner

It was great to see the amount of people to show up for the protest, and to have such an activist such as Garrett to help draw the crowd with his presence.

About the peacekeepers:

I have to applaud all the peacekeepers for their dedication and their willingness to commit themselves for such a political issue that most do not find the time to. It was good to see that -- their support for all the people who came out and showing us things that we really haven't seen before. We see it in the papers and on the news but you can't really understand what's really going on, until you make the effort to stand up beside them and run the risk of being arrested. However, some loggers who were out there did not seem to understand that we are not opposing logging but clearcutting.

We would have liked to have stayed to protest longer, but unfortunately, as I said before, not everybody has the time to .. but we should be back

(( I asked why he had shown up, he said A FRIEND of his had gone up on the first protest on Canada Day, but another friend had discussed what was happening and last week mentioned that Midnight Oil was playing, and he had the days off so they came up. ))


Jason Booth

Wonderful experience! Finally some action is being done. Maybe the BC government will finally sit up and take notice.

Came in WCWC van.

((not directly associated with WCWC. He also commented that if he had been a member of WCWC, he would be asked to leave, because he had taken part in the blockade.))


Shannon Mendes

((somewhere in here, I started getting more people throwing in comments, including Panos Grames))

I thought it was great. Everything seemed to go really smoothly. The energy was really strong. It seemed like the SHARE guys stood out because they were a little drunk..

I think that people went away with a feeling that there was a chance to make a change -- to stop the clearcutting. Everyone was beaming It wasn't the concert or the group. it was that people needed the date-- the excuse -- that they could say it was that date and they could book it off. It was that people needed to have that date to work with something. It was a date that people could just take off and work around and make a collective statement with. If there wasn't something like this fixed date, people would just put it off and put it off...

There's power in numbers.

I think the moment was proved when the process server discovered that there weren't enough copies of the injunction to serve to the thousands of people that were there.

I think that the process server has got to have children at home that are saying "Daddy, why are you cutting down all the trees?".. And if that's what we need all the pulp and paper for is to print these injunctions, then there's better use for the old growth.

There was a sign that SHARE had up that said "No logging --No pulp and paper products -- No wood " That was a SHARE sign.

((my comment -- they had it backwards -- No wood, No pulp & paper, No logging (i.e. No jobs) ))

I think the solidarity seemed to....

I mean that when the SHARE people weren't screaming, they seemed to have a blank look on their face like they didn't believe what was going on,

I think that one thing that the media isn't likely to cover is that the people who were there weren't in out small -British Columbia, in Vancouver .... that it was international issue and that we are acting on the wishes of people around the world..

I think the media is going to focus on that there was a rock concert and that people came to see Midnight Oil. but I don't think that there was anyone there what would have left if it would have compromised the blockade.

((about 400 people stayed on the road for the whole day, risking arrest. Macmillan Bloedel apparently had a helicopter circling the area the entire day but did not try to go in.

One of the pro-tree protesters made the comment that the Canadian government had spent $6 million on anti-environmental propaganda in Europe, at that point, one of the SHARE protesters, who was sipping on his beer can, shouted "What a waste of money". I think that he was the one who shouted "That's bull shit you assholes"

I think it was a good thing that all of the peacekeepers had pink armbands and all of the people who were inebriated had yellow ones. (( Yellow armbands are worn by SHARE BC members -- apparently a reference to yellow armbands worn by Gulf War and Iran Hostage supporters - which were themselves a reference to the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree"))

On the first day ((This may refer to Wednesday morning??)) I saw when we were coming down the road --when the Mac. Blo. logging trucks were coming down -- (which in itself seemed like a nightmare) someone in the personnel bus/truck opened the door onto a group of people -- they didn't hit them --in an attempt to either frighten or strike one of the protesters on the road. The truck following it was a big, huge logging truck and it was just cruising ... Everyone was running to the side of the road, because it was coming early.

I think one thing that's really important is that everyone who was there was representing ten or more of their friends and relatives who wanted to come but couldn't because of the distance..

((I asked why people had gone to the concert))

((Panos Grames)) Both my mother and my grandmother wanted go. and they both made it very clear that they were willing to be arrested - but my grandmother, who is 76 years old, was too sick to go. That was the kick in the ass that got me to go. 'cause when I was out there, and I was looking at the -- how many thousand were out there?- that they were really tens of thousands of people in spirit. -- and I think that these people are on their way, or they will be on their way if it becomes necessary.

There's the stereotype that it's just young kids, or slackers who want to go out, but, families are often unable to go because they have children to take care of or financial pressure.. Another point, my brother has two kids and he couldn't make it because he has responsibility to his kids, and he asked me to go in his place.

((Shannon)) I was inspired to go -- my dad in Ontario said that if he was out here, he would be out there ((on the blockade)) in a second -- That's what inspired me to go..

We actually decided to go before the concert


Unknown female

You know the whole time I was at the blockade, I was taking pictures ((of the photographers), and most of the time I was at the concert I was looking for my luggage..

There were some really rad speakers talking there..

They were playing for about an hour and they ended with a great rendition of " Beds are Burning" and they really whipped up the audience with it.


Jami Feller

it was really good.

((Why was he there??))

A little of both -- to try and get people out there to do something about the trees and to see Midnight Oil. My friends were going so they made me go.


Mira Burke, Chetan Bagga , Scrubby. [[in parallel]]

It was an incredibly spiritual experience because everybody wanted to be there. It was very positive and nobody did anything violent or radical. Even if people showed up just because of Midnight Oil it was good they showed up, because we got victory over the loggers and everybody there was useful and we'd like to see them again..

We got victory and the loggers weren't taking it too well -- it's the first day that they've been shut down like this and they're going to continue to be shut down. and yesterday was their last day logging..

I thought it was an empowering impassioned response to the need for refreshing energy to confront the forest companies on the issue not confronting them in a negative way or a violent way. It was an event that held great solidarity and it proves that this issue isn't a fringe issue -- it's a mainstream issue

That a mainstream band was able to alter the way that the public perceives the notions of the people who are involved with the protesting.

The band is part of the more broadly based people power orientation of individuals and concerned citizen groups against harmful logging practices that are endangering jobs and the environment at the same time... in other words endangering our future.

((why did they come?))

It was my father who's an environmentalist and also friends and television. People who came back from July first rally to say it was happening

((and encouraged him to come??))

((The group came with the Mira's dad.... He works for Capers Foods (sp?).))


Rob Wickham

(age 28) a security officer and Midnight Oil fan:

I thought it was a great weekend, a great number of days.. It was a great couple of days.

I'm not a member of Greenpeace, but I believe in what they're doing - what they represent.. I think it's sickening the way the government thinks that they can control us.

((He mentioned that he is a security guard and he deals with conflict all the time.))

It was good to see so many people come together for a common goal without conflict.

The music was great, and last night the music was great. We were down by the second overflow camp and there were some guys playing the bongo drums and singing.

I talked with Garrett ..... he said "thanks for a great day"

I even hugged a tree. I couldn't get my arms more than a quarter of the way around it...

One of the loggers had a sign that said "Born to clearcut". What an asshole.

((In conversation, I mentioned that if you had told me two months ago that I would be standing on a blockade, I would have said you were nuts..))

We need more people like us

(("Oh, you neither?"))

No! Never, never, ever in my life have I ever done something like this, and it was GREAT - and you can underline GREAT. I had fun.

End of comments

Text below may be used as you see fit as long as it is properly attributed. The restricted copyright section ends HERE.

A short history:

On July 15, 1993 at about 8:00AM, the Australian rock band " Midnight Oil" gave a short, free concert at "The Black Hole," a (relatively speaking) small(?) clearcut along the Port Alberni-Tofino highway on Vancouver Island, in BC, Canada. This was in support of a blockade which took place at 6:00AM near the Kennedy River bridge. The blockade is designed to help publicize the clearcutting of the Clayoquot sound area - The largest remaining temperate forest ecosystem remaining on Vancouver Island, and one of the largest in Canada.

The blockade started, this year, on July 5 with 15 protestors refusing to leave the road -- including Svend Robinson, a Canadian MP and NDP party member. Numbers have slowly grown since. On Wednesday, July 14, the number of people at the blockade roughly doubled to 157. On July 15, the entire clearing was filled with people, many of whom were willing to risk arrest by staying on the road in violation of a BC Supreme Court Injunction issued at the petition of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd.

In the normal course of the blockade, protesters would leave their Black Hole camp at 4:30 each morning and arrive at the blockade site approximately 1/2 hour later to prepare for the arrival of the first MacMillan Bloedel (MB) truck - which usually appeared between 6:00AM and 6:18. The first MB truck was usually a small truck carrying a person who's purpose is to read the injunction to the protesters, and then call in the RCMP when protesters refuse to move from the road. RCMP would then arrive a while later, verify that the protesters on the road refused to let the trucks pass, and then arrest the protesters. The number of people defying the injunction on any day was usually in the single digits. Two exceptions have been July 5th (the first blockade) when there were about 15 conscientious objectors and July 15th when there were dozens (possibly hundred). Those days were also exceptions because the objectors were not arrested.

The concert was originally scheduled for 6:00AM at the blockade site, but was moved to 8:00AM at the Black Hole by request of local native leaders. Response to the call by Midnight Oil for people to attend the blockade/concert was far beyond original expectations. As late as July 12, Greenpeace changed their estimates from 300 to 1500. The actual number of participants is not known (no tickets were sold), but at about 9PM July 15 one report I received was that BC ferries had a two-sailing wait and were adding ferries to handle the traffic from the mainland to the blockade site. Each ferry carries 250-400 cars and 1000-1500 passengers. There is normally 1 ferry per hour and from greater Vancouver to Nanaimo.

Total trip time for to the concert site for most Vancouverites is 5 to 6 hours.


Glossary

CD
Civil Disobedience Training -- also referred to as Non-Violent Action training. This training is STRONGLY suggested for anybody taking part in Greenpeace Civil Disobedience actions. The primary focus of the training is the avoidance of violence or confrontational action, and how to maintain your cool in scary situations. My training was approximately 4 hours long.
Clayoquot Sound
The largest remaining intact piece of temperate rainforest left on Vancouver Island. It represents approximately 2% of the available logging land in British Columbia.
Friends of Clayoquot Sound:
A group of people dedicated to the preservation of Clayoquot sound. Based in Tofino, BC., they may be reached at (604) 725-4218(voice), (604)725-2527(fax), or focs@web.apc.org (email).
Greenpeace:
A world-renowned environmental foundation which organized the Midnight Oil Concert. Their Vancouver office may be reached at (604)253-7701(voice) or (604)253-0114(fax)
MB (also Mac. Blo.)
MacMillan Bloedel. One of the largest logging companies in BC and the company that requested the injunction that is the basis for the arrest of protesters.
Midnight Oil:
An Australian rock band well known for it's activist views and excelent music.
Peter Garrett
Midnight Oil band leader, and a director of Greenpeace International.
Peacekeeper training:
A course on how to defuse high-conflict situations. The prime activity of peacekeepers at this action was crowd control. In this case, the training focused on the possibility of aggressive confrontation initiated by members of SHARE BC. CD training is a prerequisite to Peacekeeper training.
Peacekeepers:
Anybody with peacekeeper training, willing to act in such a role. They were identified by their pink armbands.
SHARE:
A pro-logging group. It's purpose seems to be mostly to counter the activities of groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of Clayoquot Sound.
The Black Hole:
One of the few recent clearcuts which are clearly visible from a well-traveled road. It is on the Port Alberni-Tofino highway, near Ucluelet, and has been a rally point for many local residents who oppose clearcutting.
WCWC:
Western Canada Wilderness Committee - Rather like Greenpeace, except for the fact that they refuse to support illegal actions. They may be reached at (604)683-8220.

Special thanks to:

Geoff Skinner
for reminding me of my promise do this.
Judy Abrams
without whom I'd never have gone out there.
Friends of Clayoquot Sound
who have kept the conversation going through the sometimes difficult and lonely of times.
Midnight Oil
for being the catalyst to get all these people out to the sound.
The Great Creator
(whichever name you prefer to use), for creating this land of beauty which we are now custodian of.
MacMillan Bloedel et. al.
without who's apparent indifference to the environment and the long-term economic future of the people of BC, I would never have had reason to conduct these interviews.
The People
Those whose words I transcribed here: You left me inspired and in awe.
Arrestees
Those who were, and are, willing to surrender their liberty to protect the future. I honour your dedication and bravery.

Please minimize forest destruction. Pass this on to somebody else when you have finished reading it.


Stephen Samuel (samuel@bcgreen.com)
Net Result home page My Home Page