Wild Times – Powerful Words

Thank you to the journalists who brought wilderness stories to the front page

Joe Foy

2008 rally at the BC Legislature to end old-growth logging


I have been meaning to write this particular column for years  but have never gotten around to it, until now. Have you ever wanted to say thank you but the circumstances made it difficult? That’s my dilemma – but it here goes anyway.

I want to say thank you to all the journalists, reporters, opinion commentators and others who have covered environmental issues that I have worked on over the past 40 years or so. And I do mean to thank all of you – even the ones who disagreed or gave me a hard time. 

For those who held my feet to the fire, you made me think of different aspects of wilderness preservation, including community development and a fair sharing of resources. Without you I would just be drinking my own bathwater – recycling an eco-chamber of agreeable voices. You have my sincere thanks and appreciation for your work. 

For those who did agree that particular wilderness areas should not be logged, stripmined, or flooded – and reported or gave their opinion – I want to say thanks to you. The results of your efforts can be seen on the land today in glorious protected areas like Stein Valley, Carmanah Valley, Boise Valley, Elaho Valley and so many more. And for those of you reporting today – you are doing amazing things with results that will be celebrated for generations to come. 

Activists like me and reporters and opinion commentators have an unusual relationship. We need each other – but keep each other at arm’s length so as not to appear too chummy. 

Because of this arm’s length relationship,  when beautiful wilderness areas get the formal protection they deserve, you will often see First Nation leaders, provincial and federal government leaders, and environmental activists up on the stage – but the reporters and commentators are out in the audience, just doing their job as they always do. 

Journalists are not properly recognized for the heavy lifting so many of them have done and continue to do in defense of wild nature in Canada.

It is a shame that journalists are not properly recognized for the heavy lifting so many of them have done and continue to do in defense of wild nature in Canada. I turn 70 this year, so I think I am allowed to bend the unwritten rules a little now.

I save stuff. I have made it my life’s quest to collect the articles you have written or broadcast and I see the effort, skill, determination, and love of wild places and creatures that is displayed in so many of your works. The ideas about nature protection that you have captured in your reporting or have created in your editorials are an important record – a message in a bottle to future generations. You have done this. Only you could have done it.

Activists and journalists have a lot in common, I think. One of these is that late at night we wonder if we are just howling in the wind. Is anyone listening? Will my words make a difference? 

Looking back, I can see that when journalists cover environmental activists,  big things happen. Haida Gwaii forests start getting more protection. The bloody grizzly bear hunt comes to an end. The amount of protected lands in BC is doubled – and is poised to double again. 

In this column I have not mentioned the  names of any journalists. There are just so many vivid memories and wild tales, that  I did not want to start for fear of leaving some out. Perhaps a future column.

For now – I raise a glass of beautiful clear mountain water from the Vancouver watersheds – now free of logging – and say  thank you.

Joe Foy is the protected areas campaigner for the Wilderness Committee.

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