Cedar logs in a working cutblock at Collison Point/St’alaa Kun. (Andrew Hudson photo)

Haida artist and protesters fight to protect cedar forest in Masset, court decision looms

Robert Davidson filed an affidavit seeking to stop the cutting, while protesters form blockade

A court decision is expected on Thursday with regards to the future of a planned logging project outside of Masset.

Haida artist Robert Davidson filed an affidavit in B.C. Supreme Court against O’Brien and Fuerst Logging, seeking to halt progression of the logging of a growth of cedar trees which is set to take place. The logging site is located only several hundred metres away from many residences.

At the same time as Davidson was presenting his evidence, O’Brien and Fuerst were also in court seeking an injunction against protesters who had established a blockade at the site that was set to be logged, known as the Blue Jackets area. The protesters were represented by independent legal counsel at the time, and since then their case has drawn the increased attention of the Council of the Haida Nation. CHN members are expected to be present at the site when the court decision is announced.

READ MORE: Logging protest at Collison Point

Davidson spoke about his reasons for filing the affidavit, which he says are not meant as disparaging toward the logging industry. “I feel for the loggers, if there’s no more trees there’s no more jobs for them,” Davidson said. “I just wish that we could have the same weight in our concerns as the logging companies. It’s the system that has to be reworked.”

Robert Davidson has carved with cedar from the area for decades, including the tree he used for the first totem pole raised on Haida Gwaii in more than 100 years. (Kevin Eastwood photo)

The Blue Jackets area is of special importance to Davidson, and Haida culture, as it is the place where his father, Claude Davidson, found the tree that Davidson used to carve the most famous totem pole in Old Massett. The 1969 pole raising, a story detailed in a pair of documentaries out this year, Now Is The Time and Haida Modern, was the first pole raised on the islands in more than 100 years, sparking a renewal of Haida art and culture. A major cut of trees in the area could wipe out much of the rich supply that Haida carvers continue to use to this day.

“I’m very concerned that there seems to be no thought about the future,” Davidson said. “If we don’t have the material, we can’t carry on with our culture.”

“I’m concerned that the accessible cedar at Blue Jackets won’t be available to my children, my grandchildren and to future generations of carvers from Old Massett,” Davidson wrote in his affidavit.

READ MORE: Haida Modern set to premiere at Vancouver International Film Festival next month

All parties involved will assess their options going forward following Thursday’s decision.


Alex Kurial | Journalist
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