She came with eggs, but left in handcuffs

In our latest newsletter, we share photojournalist Louis Bockner’s very personal experience covering a logging blockade. Plus: a heads up on some events featuring Narwhal staff
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Louis Bockner's mom, Beatrice, speaks with RCMP officers.
“My mother was the fifth or sixth taken away after asking to leave while standing on the shoulder of the road. I bit my tongue, took a photo of her hunched, 75-year-old body being escorted away, and scribbled in my notebook.”


It was the morning of May 17, and photojournalist Louis Bockner was near the bottom of a forest service road at the north end of Kootenay Lake, in B.C.’s interior. He was there to document a blockade erected to protect the Argenta-Johnsons Landing face, a strip of forest surrounded by a provincial wilderness conservancy, which was set to be logged three weeks earlier.

Louis is intimately familiar with the area: he was born in a small cabin in the 150-person village of Argenta. The fate of these forests has been a subject of debate for his entire life.

As the protesters dug in, he wanted to be there to capture what was happening in his home community.

Louis’ mother, Beatrice Massara, had come over to the protest camp that morning to bring some eggs to those gathered. She wanted to show her support for “the young people who were there who believe in protecting the ecosystem of my backyard,” she says. 

But when the RCMP’s 30-person enforcement team arrived, she grew uncomfortable and told officers she needed to go home. That wasn’t an option: “Before I knew it, they arrested me.”

Beatrice was one of 17 people arrested and charged with civil contempt of court. Just this week, Lower Kootenay Band sent a letter to the province and the forestry company, Cooper Creek Cedar, demanding a stop to the logging activity.
Meghan Beatty, a member of Last Stand West Kootenay, is surrounded by RCMP after chaining herself into a hardblock in the Salisbury Forest Service Road.

This is far from the first time we’ve reported on the presence of the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group, or C-IRG, a division of the police force that has also enforced injunctions for resource companies on Wet’suwet’en territory and Fairy Creek.

The immediate enforcement was a departure from how things went down at the Fairy Creek logging blockades, where there was often some negotiation to determine where peaceful protesters could and couldn’t be.

As Louis writes, “The rules of the game had changed.”

For its part, the RCMP said the narrow road does “not allow people to peacefully protest off the roadway and not impede operations.”

But for one lawyer representing some of those arrested, the RCMP’s actions point to increasing efforts to use exclusion zones to deny access not just to land defenders, but journalists and legal observers as well.

Go here to read Louis’ full account — including the perspective of forest ecologist Suzanne Simard.

Take care and hug a tree and/or your mom,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience
Headshot of Arik Ligeti
A photo collage, featuring author Lyndsie Bourgon, Narwhal reporter Ainslie Cruickshank and an award The Narwhal received from the Recycling Council of BC.

The Narwhal in the world

We are honoured to share that The Narwhal just received the ​​Brock Macdonald Award for Excellence in Education, Communication and Outreach from the Recycling Council of BC. “It was quite something to feel the reader love and energy in person,” said art director Shawn Parkinson, who accepted the award at a recent gala on behalf of our team.

Did someone say in-person Narwhal gathering? We’ve got one coming up! B.C. biodiversity reporter Ainslie Cruickshank will be speaking with Tree Thieves author Lyndsie Bourgon at a free Vancouver Public Library event on June 22. Bonus: this is a face-to-face event (with real-life humans!) and The Narwhal will have a table. Register, learn about timber poaching along the Pacific coast, and then come say hello!

Over in the virtual world, Ontario bureau chief Denise Balkissoon is moderating a discussion on June 20 about the growing movement of Indigenous-led conservation. Make sure to RSVP for this free event being hosted by the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership.
Sally and David Lang (wearing a Narwhal toque) are seen out in nature.

Note from a Narwhal

David and Sally Lang recently decided to make a gift of securities to The Narwhal — which means they receive a tax receipt and avoid capital gains tax and we get to produce even more investigative journalism about the natural world. That’s what we call a win-win.

We asked the Langs to share a little about why they support our independent journalism.  

Why do you choose to support The Narwhal?

We love that The Narwhal is introducing Canadians to un- or underreported environmental stories that we need to know about. We feel we are getting educated every time a newsletter arrives. We also love that The Narwhal is a small organization without a lot of overhead and the passion and the intelligence of its writers and editors. We love that opportunities are being created for journalists with different perspectives to report on environmental concerns.

What are your top-of-mind concerns about the natural world?

Our most pressing concern is for habitat loss both in terrestrial and marine environments. Most of the environment problems seem to be attributed to habitat loss. We want Earth to remain a livable place for future generations.

What do you see as the special impact of investigative journalism?

We hope that through ours and others’ donations that stories can be reported without the consideration of paid advertising. We know that The Narwhal’s writers will go to extraordinary measures to tell stories that Canadians have the right to know.

Go here to learn more about how you can give a gift just like the Langs, plus all the other ways you can help bolster The Narwhal’s non-profit journalism.

This week in The Narwhal

‘Our people are coming home’: Sinixt finally gather to celebrate their Supreme Court win 
By Stephanie Wood
After Canada denied their existence for over half a century, the Sinixt mark their Supreme Court of Canada victory with a gathering and a canoe journey — as they embark on a much bigger journey of reclaiming their Indigenous Rights.

A man at the beach at Hanlan's Point in Toronto.
It’s the first Pride in two years, and I’ll be in the water at Hanlan’s Point
By KC Hoard

Compost courier Garrett LeBlanc stands next to a white garbage collection truck, watching a large green compost bin empty into the truck bed.
Seeing green: Winnipeg’s organic waste problem
By Julia-Simone Rutgers


What we’re reading

APTN story: Behind the Thin Blue Line: Meet a  secretive arm of the RCMP in B.C.
Globe article: Inside the emergency effort to save Quebec’s tiny chorus frogs
A dog in a car wearing a Narwhal toque
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