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University News Story on the Great Bear Rainforest

Canadian University Press reporter Bryna Hallam has written a lengthy piece (here, via the York University paper) about the land use agreements on the British Columbia Central Coast made between communities, governments, resource extraction companies, and environmentalists. The area in question has become know as the Great Bear Rainforest and is described by Hallam as “the last, largest stand of intact temperate old growth rainforest in the world.”

The article is published in the current issue of the Capilano Courier, the student newspaper at Capilano College (Nov 28, 2005; Vol. 38 #10). My Cap students should take a look … in our classes on religion and ritual we discussed the protests against logging in the Great Bear Rainforest by aboriginal people in the mid-1990s.

Our discussion centred on the flexibility of cultural symbols — why, for example, are the red and black button blackets of coastal native groups just as effective for conveying messages of protest in the woods as they are for conveying group membership at a potlatch? What is it about this symbol that changes when the context changes?

We wondered why the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) did not wear their ceremonial regalia when they enforced the injunction against protesters. And, we considered protesting as a ritual activity.

The article updates the story.

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