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

A blockade on Bigmouth Forest Service Road was announced on July 7, but activists have been preparing for much longer. We went on scene to talk to demonstrators about their involvement, and the urgency of the movement.

Deep in the forest north of Revelstoke, old-growth logging opponents set up tents, chairs and trailers. The demonstrators have mounted a blockade in response to proposed old-growth logging in the Argonaut Creek valley. As a result, the Bigmouth Forest Service Road is currently impassible for loggers and construction crews.

Watch: See our video report from the Bigmouth old-growth logging blockade here:

Demonstrators are allowing recreational users through the roadblock. Overall, the blockade is peaceful. Shortly after I arrived on the afternoon of July 7, an RCMP officer drove up the dirt road. Without injunctions from logging companies, RCMP cannot force any demonstrators to leave. Instead, the officer came to let the demonstrators know they are aware of the blockades. They even cracked a couple of jokes, and laughter momentarily cut through the tension.

Homemade banners hang alongside the Bigmouth Forest Service Road signage, marking the entry to the blockade. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

Facing the elements and forcing change

Located approximately 122 kilometers north of Revelstoke, demonstrators brave bug bites, rain, and wind at the remote site. Organized by Old Growth Revylution, the group is prepared to stand their ground until logging stops in the valley, however long that may take.

“We stand in solidarity with Fairy Creek. If they can do it, we can do it,” says Sarah Newton, a Revelstoke resident and teacher. Although the blockade was announced on July 7, Newton explains that they actually began their demonstration the day before. On July 6, they established themselves on the Bigmouth road, and began blocking the construction of another logging road further into the Argonaut Creek valley.

Protesters at the blockade camp represent a variety of groups. Long-term environmental activists sit alongside Revelstoke high school students, and biologists swap stories with Metis elders. Everyone has one thing in common: a deep-seated concern for the future of British Columbia’s forests.

A banner reading “Stop the Ecocide” blows in the wind, fastened securely by protestors. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

Policy reform vs. direct action

There is also an awareness of the role that logging plays in Revelstoke’s economy. Since their inception, Old Growth Revylution has emphasized in public statements that they are not anti-logging. The topic of policy change came up often at the blockade. One demonstrator, Rory Luxmoore, highlights the fourteen recommendations published in a strategic review of old-growth policy.

“I’d recommend people to look at those, they are very reasonable,” Luxmoore explains. “It does question, ‘What is the value of a forest?’ and it looks at ways in which we can transition to a new way of looking at the forest industry.”

Conversely, there is also dissatisfaction amongst demonstrators with government discussion. “We talk, they chop,” is how Newton explains it. Although she acknowledges the need for policy reform, there is also a sense of urgency for direct action. That is the root of the blockade. As Newton explains her reason for being there, her voice cracks with emotion.

“We’re just running out of old-growth, period. They’re running out of time. It’s critical. I’ve never felt more of a time crunch in my life.”

Read more about activism opposing old-growth logging and the ecological significance of Argonaut Creek here:

In an Instagram post, Old Growth Revylution stated they will rotate blockades throughout the area until their demands are met. For those interested in the movement, but reluctant towards camping, the group is encouraging people to call Premier John Horgan to voice their concerns. They plan on manning the blockades until the remaining cutblocks in Argonaut Creek valley are deferred, at the very least.

Avatar photo
Bailey Gingras-Hamilton is a recent graduate of the Mount Royal University Journalism program, where she developed an interest in current events and social issues. As a chronically curious individual, she enjoys exploring new places, cuisines, and cultures.