Whistler business owner avoids jail for Fairy Creek protest

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Emily Kane faced 24 days in jail before her sentence was reduced to a fine

Before heading to Fairy Creek last spring for the ancient logging blockades that made international headlines, Emily Kane’s closest contact with the law was what she described as “a slight speeding.

That changed on May 27, 2021 when the local business owner was arrested and forcibly evicted by the RCMP after locking himself in a “sleeping dragon” – essentially a hole in the ground reinforced with concrete and pipes in which the demonstrators locked themselves throughout the roadblocks. .

Initially, Kane was charged with civil contempt of an injunction. Just weeks after his arrest, however, the charge was turned into criminal contempt, after the BC Prosecuting Service agreed to review the cases of more than 400 Fairy Creek protesters who allegedly breached an injunction. court-ordered logging company Teal Jones. The upgrade meant she faced a possible criminal record, as well as 24 days in jail.

“To me, it seemed surprising as a peaceful resistance [protester] and especially given the circumstances, given that we have the right as citizens to protest peacefully,” Kane said.

Luckily for the owner of Yogacara Whistler, the judge in his case showed some leniency, reducing his sentence to a $2,250 fine and no jail time.

Although understandably relieved to avoid a harsher sentence, Kane was prepared for the possibility of a prison sentence if that were to happen.

“I knew people were being arrested at Fairy Creek and I also knew we were in a climate and biodiversity crisis. When there is less than 2.7% of these [old-growth] trees left in forest areas, it is urgent. It is an urgent cause,” she said. “If we don’t do something about it, we’re going to lose them. From my point of view, my potential loss and my consequences did not matter compared to this loss.

For Kane, the choice to go to Fairy Creek was an easy one. But she still wonders why the blockades – the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history – were even necessary in the first place.

“These people, myself included, have no malicious intent. I didn’t mean to break the law,” she said. “We are here to make sure we don’t lose this ancient ecosystem that we all need for so many reasons. It’s unfortunate. I didn’t want to have to do what I did, but there is no other choice when the government has failed to act. This is the last option we have.

Kane, a young white woman, also acknowledges that things could have turned out much differently for her, both with her arrest — she described the RCMP as respectful throughout — and with her reduced sentence. Other Fairy Creek protesters weren’t so lucky.

“The most important thing for me was recognizing that privilege in the arrest itself. After hearing the stories and seeing the video footage and understanding what some marginalized people have gone through, I think that in itself has been a huge revelation,” she said. “I also recognize that the experiences I’ve just had, even the fact that I was able to have a management team to support me while I was away [to Fairy Creek]ask my husband to help me while I’m away, if I end up going [to jail]I recognize that these are enormous privileges and I recognize that not everyone has these options.

As the spotlight has faded on Fairy Creek, Kane is keen to bring renewed attention to ancient logging, not just there, but across the province.

“This is not an isolated incident at Fairy Creek. This is happening all over British Columbia. It’s happening in our backyard and if we don’t do something, we’re going to waste those precious spaces together,” she said. “We have a responsibility – and I know I sound like a broken record – to hold the government accountable to its promises. We are beautiful British Columbia, we should be able to preserve these forests for future generations. If we make these mistakes now, future generations will bear the brunt of these bad decisions and there is very little time to [take action] before it’s too late.”

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