Hundreds flocked to Victoria to participate in a rally and march to support protections for old growth forests in British Columbia, including a Canadian icon – singer Neil Young.
Despite snow in the forecast, many travelled from far and wide Feb. 25 to join in the march and rally, bringing with them music, art and costumes.
Young, who has a long history of supporting environmental causes, treated the crowd to a performance.
Sometimes you organize a rally and rock legend Neil Young comes and sings at it as a surprise.#UnitedForOldGrowth pic.twitter.com/r3AVncG2Rp
— Torrance Coste (@TorranceCoste) February 25, 2023
Rally-goers dressed as trees, animals and plants made their way through the city, chanting and cheering for environmental protections.
Bev Smith, who travelled to Victoria from Ladysmith, said old growth is key in maintaining biodiversity and promoting new growth. She also said the more people show up, the more pressure the David Eby government will feel to make some significant changes.
Hereditary Chief David Mungo Knox from the Kwakiutl First Nation travelled all the way from Port Hardy for the march and rally.
“The old growth is so important for us humans to be sustainable on this earth,” he said.
First Nations led the march with prayers and music through the streets of downtown Victoria from Centennial Square to the B.C. Legislature building, where people gathered to talk about the importance of old growth protections and call for an end to old growth logging.
Torrance Coste, who helped organize the event, said it was important to hold it on Premier David Eby’s 100th day in office, to remind the new government of their promises.
“He promised to expedite action on old growth in his first 100 days,” Coste said. “So far, we haven’t seen that. They made some more solid commitments and an announcement last week that set some policy framework that is positive for five to 10 years down the road, but what the public wants to see is for the most at-risk old growth forests stop falling.”
Coste said there is nothing concrete that the Eby government has done that will ensure those forests stay standing this spring and summer.
“We are hoping to demonstrate the popularity of the that,” he said. “The rally was called by the United We Stand for Old Growth declaration, which as of today has over 220 signatories representing organizations across B.C., from First Nations groups to Labour to community groups and small businesses.”
Coste said the march and rally is representative of the huge amount of support for old growth protections.
“No one is calling for an end to all logging, but we are calling for the most special old growth to be set aside,” he said. “We want to give premier Eby the confidence to do that.”
Many people spoke during the event, including Chief James Hobart of Spuzzum First Nation, who said the government is doing the bare minimum on environmental protections.
“It is time for this government to forward think, then hydroplane over the crap of the industry,” Hobart said. “It is time they focus their lens on this issue and let there be no more talking while logging old growth.”
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