Bruce McMorran stood outside the Ministry of Forests for a few hours on March 19 as part of the Forest March BC movement. He planned to lead a healing ceremony with the intention of encouraging forestry professionals to look longer term in their policy planning. (Zoe Ducklow photo)

Forestry healing ceremony turns into mild altercation in Port McNeill

Local forestry workers showed up so they could counter any "false claims" made by environmentalists

  • Mar. 19, 2021 12:00 a.m.

What was meant to be a peaceful healing ceremony at the Port McNeill offices of the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development turned into a mild parking lot altercation between a small group asking for improved sustainability in logging, and forestry-affiliated people who felt the need to set the record straight.

Bruce McMorran, a tourism operator on Cormorant Island initiated the healing ceremony in conjunction with the province-wide Forest March action that’s been happening annually since 2018.

He planned a meditation and healing ceremony at the doors of the forestry office, surrounded by cedar boughs, saying that human consciousness is how the future becomes reality.

McMorran was adamant that he’s not against logging. He even said to people gathered that he thinks there’s a place for continued old growth logging, which is a contentious issue.

“You can’t blame the workers they’re just doing their job to get groceries and feed their families. It’s not about the companies either because they just do what they can get away with.”

It’s the policy that needs to change, he says.

“Where does policy come from? Politicians and public pressure.”

A handful of supporters stood with McMorran, and a larger group of people who felt the need to defend forestry also came — close to 25 people.

Quips about how much old growth is left, and whether second-growth logging is viable were lobbed from one group to the next across the parking lot while ministry staff looked on through the second-storey windows.

The pro-forestry group defended themselves, saying, “We live here too, do you think we want the forests to be pillaged the way you say they are?”

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They fundamentally disagree with the assessment that old-growth is almost gone and needs to be immediately protected. Several women whose husbands are loggers were there, saying the anti-logging activists skew the science and the maps.

They all agree that old growth timber is more valuable, and that it’s still being logged. They disagree over how much is left and whether it should still be logged.

As for complaints about damage to salmon bearing streams, one logger said most of the damage being seen now was caused by logging done in the past.

McMorran asked those gathered several times to stop with the us-versus-them adversarial talk, saying it’s not what he came for and it’s not useful.

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Chad Woo stood representing forestry workers, asking what Bruce McMorran’s suggestion is to transition loggers off old-growth timber, something Woo argues will happen over time. (Zoe Ducklow photo)