shíshálh Elders Visit Wilson Creek Forest and Call for Protection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2012

Thunderbird carving by Willard Joe placed above a notice of forest protection by senior shíshálh elders

Thunderbird carving by Willard Joe placed above a notice of forest protection by senior shíshálh elders

Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) was pleased to be part of a blessing ceremony of the forest conducted by Sechelt (shíshálh) First Nation elders from Sechelt, BC, who visited the Wilson Creek Forest. The elders are hereditary family members who have made the Sunshine Coast their home for thousands of years. They made it clear that they support protection of all remaining intact, old forests because they are the sites for herbal medicines, protection of fisheries, wildlife and for the inherent rights of nature.

shíshálh Elder Willard Joe completes his drum song while other Elders and community members look on

shíshálh Elder Willard Joe completes his drum song while other Elders and community members look on

The day began with the sighting of 8 eagles circling overhead welcoming the party. A Thunderbird carving by Willard Joe was erected to a tree near the trailhead. Below the Thunderbird was a sign approved by the senior elder which reads:

The shishalh-:tl’extl’ax-min are the authority of the people. Mus-swiya and Xwu’p’a’lich are elders and they want these Trees preserved.

On a previous visit conducted by ELF, measurements were taken of the Douglas-fir trees that survived the mid-1800’s fire that swept across the lower Elphinstone slopes. The old trees are referred to as ‘Vets or Veterans’ as they have survived wildfires, pests, early logging and the onslaught of industrial clearcutting.

The largest tree in the Wilson Creek Forest is recorded at 7’ 7” (2.31m) in diameter. It’s estimated to be an amazing 225’ (68.58m) in height. The second largest Doug-Fir in the area is 7’ 4” (2.23m) in diameter. This 7’ 7” diameter tree is the second largest known tree on the lower Sunshine Coast.

Mus-swiya (Jamie Dixon) at ‘Mus-swiya’s Tree’ the 2nd largest Douglas-Fir on the lower Sunshine Coast

Mus-swiya (Jamie Dixon) at ‘Mus-swiya’s Tree’ the 2nd largest Douglas-Fir on the lower Sunshine Coast

“In recognition of shíshálh knowledge and respect of the Wilson Creek Forest, this significant tree has been named after an elder who is working to keep shíshálh’s traditions alive.” Ross Muirhead of ElF says “Mus-swiya (Jamie Dixon) is a long-standing supporter of the shíshálh community, helps students from Kinnikinnick Elementary School with native plant identification and we’re honored to have this natural monument named after him. From this point forward ‘Mus-swiya’s Tree’ will be the name of this 2nd largest Douglas-Fir on the lower Sunshine Coast.”

It’s shocking, but the beautiful Wilson Creek Forest is in immediate danger of being logged by the by Sunshine Coast Community Forests (SCCF), owned by the District of Sechelt. They have made it know that they have suspended public dialogue on the issue. Destruction of this forest, with its natural and cultural heritage, for the sake of a few log sales, would be a travesty. We must stand with the elders to protect it for the sake of the past and the future.

For further information contact:

Elphinstone Logging Focus
Ross Muirhead
604-740-5654, www.loggingfocus.org

shíshálh Elders Spokesperson
Xwu’p’a’lich (Barb Higgins)
604-740-0337

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