Indigenous-run Group Demands Government Protection for Ancient Forests
Ada’itsx/Fairy Creek - Three Indigenous women and their allies, known as the Dzunuḵ̓wa Society, are headed to Montreal for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (“COP15”). The group will display a slab, called a cookie, cut from an old-growth Douglas Fir over 750 years old for the 20,000 expected delegates. They intend to draw attention to the loss of traditional Indigenous culture and the tragedy of losing tens of thousands of hectares of biodiversity per year. The cookie is slated to arrive in Montreal on Friday, Dec 9th.
The founders of the Dzunuḵ̓wa Society, which translates to the Wild Women of the Woods Society, say they are called to the woods. They agree with UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, who on the 2022 International Day of Forests said, “Deforestation is not only a risk to biodiversity — it is also a climate risk, posing a direct threat to the human rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.”
“We are asking those who see the cookie to imagine how majestic this tree once was—how offensive it is to almost everyone to clear cut these standing giants. They are our cultural heritage,” says , Angela Davidson, member of the Da'naxda'xw/Awaetlala First Nation and Ooh-mah Ah-nise (high-ranking woman, Aunty) of the Green Party of Canada “In almost all cases, these trees were once the foundational habitat of pristine, undisturbed ecosystems. They’ve been cut to the ground with only profit in mind.”
The story of the cookie will be shared with 196 country delegates as they vote to adopt a framework that aims to transform our future and protect biodiversity. The group hopes that upon seeing the cookie, the government will take immediate action to implement protections.
The cookie was cut by industry in 2020 and travelled from the Caycuse Valley on Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory on Vancouver Island. It is expected at several events during the convention. Weighing in at over 3,000 lb, the cookie will be on-site to represent the rapid loss of biodiversity we face, to honour the habitat lost, as well as commemorate the 1,194 arrests made against those defending the forests against industry at Ada’itsx/Fairy Creek.
The Vancouver Island old growth forests the group has been defending once contained a vast variety of species at risk including the Marbled Murrelet, Western Screech Owl, Oldgrowth Specklebelly Lichen, Northern Spotted Owl, Northern Red-legged Frog, and many others. Some species are so rare that the deforestation occurring may extirpate them.
“The Canadian and BC governments continue to promote forestry in this country as sustainable, while destroying entire ecosystems,” Shawna Knight, Indigenous Guardian whose ancestors are Secwépemc. “We cannot allow these governments to continue protecting industry’s demands over the health of forests and our communities.”
Deforestation in BC destroyed 38,300 hectares of vital old-growth forest habitat in 2021. “Logging the last 2% of Vancouver Island's old growth and calling it "sustainable" should earn global condemnation for BC premier Eby and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau,” Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, said. “And now, just as Canada hosts COP15, we learn that our government is trying to water down international forestry trade regulations.”
“We’re outraged that in the middle of a global biodiversity crisis Canada continues to claim to be a leader in sustainable logging practice,” says Knight. “The government can choose to support industry and wipe out entire species, or choose to evolve with respect and reciprocity in all our relations with the land. It’s our job to encourage them to evolve.”
Where to find the cookie
The cookie is expected to first appear at the March for Biodiversity and Human Rights on Saturday, Dec 10. Additional locations will be updated here.
For more information or to arrange an interview: