Moms Won't Stop the Call to Save Old Growth Forests

This speech was delivered by Parents 4 Climate member Erin Renwick at a recent rally in Victoria to stop logging of old growth forests.

 

My name is Erin Renwick. I’m a working member of Parents 4 Climate, and a mother to three teenagers. My own mother is a survivor who raised my sister and me by herself after the unexpected death of my father when we were very small. Before her, my grandmother raised six children while working to teach nurses their trade, and my great-grandmother raised her own six children on a cattle ranch, working long hard days while feeding and caring for her family. I come from a line of fierce women who never give up.

I have vowed to be fierce too. The work I do with Parents 4 Climate, and the time I’ve spent at Fairy Creek, at rallies and marches, in meetings with other activists and meetings with politicians, writing emails, making phone calls, all of this work, these many hours, is for my kids. And not just my kids, but all kids, everywhere.

I am far from alone—there are many of us, both here today and around the globe doing this work—mostly women, mostly off the sides of our desks, between caring for our kids and keeping up with our paid work. We are doing this largely unpaid labour
out of love.

Political leaders, however, are paid to do this work full time. So where are they, and who are they listening to? Why are we not seeing real change?

I would like to address you specifically Minister Katrine Conroy. You are a champion of higher education, of strong families, of fairness for workers. You have achieved great heights in your career, all while raising your four children, and recently enduring the death of your longtime husband. I see that you too are a fierce woman.

I am asking you to be fiercer. I know you walk into some very tough rooms and you face anger coming from many places. I know that as a woman your job is harder, that you have to fight to be heard, that you’ve been doing this for many years now. It must be hard to sleep with the burden of your position.

But you didn’t become a politician because you wanted an easy life, and you are now in a position of power at a time of great importance.

Never in human history have the decisions of our politicians had such immense and lasting consequence. You have this one chance. Stop allowing old growth logging. Our ancient forests are almost gone and your deferrals mean nothing because the forests are still being cut every day. These last few wild and magical places, these carbon sinks, these tourist draws, these unceded territories. You have to protect them by funding the first nations to save their trees and by taking care of forestry workers with a just transition.

I want to remind you of a few of your responsibilities as laid out in the mandate letter the Premier sent you when you accepted your current position:

  1. You have a responsibility to build an economic recovery that works for everyone—not just those at the top. This means we must see First Nations and forestry workers included in a conservationist future.
  2. You have a responsibility to create opportunities for Indigenous peoples to be full partners in our economy and provide a clear and sustainable path for everyone to work towards reconciliation. This means that Old Growth logging must stop immediately, while First Nations are financially compensated and consulted fairly and equally.
  3. You have a responsibility to ensure your ministry’s work continues to achieve Clean BC’s goals. This means keeping what little old growth we have—it is the greatest carbon sink we will ever have.
  4. You are responsible for seeking out, fostering, and championing good ideas, regardless of their origin. This means meeting with all Indigenous leaders—not just elected ones.
  5. You have a responsibility to implement the recommendations for the Old Growth Strategic Review to protect more old growth stands. Please note the word protection here — not deferral, protection.

Minister Conroy, we know that the world our children are inheriting is in terrible shape. I don’t know how to fix this. It’s complicated, it’s expensive, there are many stakeholders with different needs.

Everyone is worried. Everyone is angry. But I’m asking you, simply, to look at your children and tell them it’s too complicated. Look at them and throw your hands up, say sorry, buy them something online and hope they will forget your betrayal.

I am here to tell you something important: your children will not forget your betrayal, and this is not too complicated to fix.

Thank you.
Erin Renwick
Feb 14, 2022

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