PHOTOS: Inside the siege of Waterfall camp

On Saturday, RCMP and protesters squared off on a logging road deep in the forests of southwest Vancouver Island
Ora Cogan
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On May 17, the RCMP began to enforce an injunction against a series of blockades and camps on logging roads on southwest Vancouver Island. The blockaders, many of them members of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Nations, are trying to halt old-growth logging in some of the last untouched ancient forests in North America. Over 150 people have been arrested through three weeks of RCMP attempts to clear the roads.

On Monday, a two-year moratorium on old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek and Central Walbran watersheds was announced. That moratorium will not halt logging in old-growth forests adjacent to Fairy Creek, in the Gordon River Valley’s Eden Grove, or in Caycuse Valley, where ancient trees are being felled in close proximity to people perched in tree-sits high atop the forest floor. Reaction from protesters was that this was a good step, but insufficient to end the ongoing crisis.

Two days earlier, on Saturday, June 5, RCMP officers attempted to advance on Waterfall camp and clear a series of roadblocks on the road leading to the camp. As protesters chained themselves to barricades and, in one case, to a steel beam suspended over the waterfall, a group of several hundred protesters marched from River HQ, the homebase for the Rainforest Flying Squad (a loose group that has assembled to protect the forest), towards Waterfall camp. Called by Elder Bill Jones and led by Hereditary Chief Victor Peter of the Pacheedaht Nation, the march was led by a large Indigenous contingent.

Photojournalists Ora Cogan and Yassie Pirani captured these scenes from inside Waterfall camp on Saturday.

A sign displayed near the entrance to Waterfall camp.
Yassie Pirani
The RCMP have closed off access to Waterfall camp, and the only way in is via a long hike.
Ora Cogan
Waterfall camp early on the morning of Saturday, June 5.
Yassie Pirani
Two teenagers, 13 and 15, locked to a gate at Braden 2000. They said they come from well-off settler families and felt an obligation to use their privilege.
Ora Cogan
Blockaders look down Reid Main, a logging road, towards advancing RCMP officers.
Yassie Pirani
As the RCMP moved rocks off the road to clear a barricade, activists were moving more rocks into the road a few hundred feet farther on.
Yassie Pirani
Three young people walking up to Waterfall camp on Reid Main.
Ora Cogan
Waterfall camp on Saturday morning.
Ora Cogan
"Young Buck" hangs suspended from a tree trunk suspended over the waterfall.
Ora Cogan
"Are you okay? Do you need the RCMP to rescue you?" An RCMP officer shouts out to "Young Buck," who responded with a thumbs-up.
Yassie Pirani
Staredown between an RCMP officer and a protester at the edge of Waterfall camp.
Ora Cogan
A young couple on the front lines at Waterfall.
Ora Cogan
As the standoff happened, Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Victor Peter and Elder Bill Jones led a ceremonial march of 300 to Waterfall to reinforce the camp. Jones was not allowed to drive in, and couldn't make it to Waterfall.
Yassie Pirani
The ceremonial march arrives at Waterfall camp.
Ora Cogan
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