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Great Grandmother Betty Krawcyzk: In thecourtroom of Justice Harvey speaking to sentencing

Sir: I would first like to speak to my sentencing from the point of view of being
an elder. I turned seventy-five in prison last August 4th and I decided I really
liked the term, "Elder" - has a ring of dignity about it that "Senior citizen" doesn't
have. In prison I have been learning to drum and sing native songs with the Native
Sisterhood, and I have noted that the respect afforded elders is still alive and breathing in their society, even in prison.
Vancouver, Provincial Courts, 14 October 2003

In the courtroom of Mr. Justice Harvey speaking to sentencing
By Betty Krawcyzk

I would first like to speak to my sentencing from the point of view of being
an elder. I turned seventy-five in prison last August 4th and I decided I really
liked the term, "Elder" - has a ring of dignity about it that "Senior citizen" doesn't
have. In prison I have been learning to drum and sing native songs with the Native
Sisterhood, and I have noted that the respect afforded elders is still alive and breathing in
their society, even in prison.

Elders were respected in most Ancient societies. We are told by nthropologists that elders bridged the gap between generations, and as the human race would not have survived without them, there was power and prestige in being an elder.

We all know that's no longer true. The job description for elders has changed. We are no
longer thought to be necessary for survival. Computers have taken the place of elders as
repositories of information. So today, because being an elder no longer invests one with
power or prestige, almost nobody wants to be one, or even admit to being one when they are
one. But I would like to shout the message to the heavens if I could -

"What good will high-tech computers be to us when the earth's waters are so polluted and
dried up that Children sicken and die everywhere, and not just in third world countries,
when our food has become so industrialized and chemicalized that it is more a chemical
gumbo than food, when our forests are alll gone and the remaining top soil washed away -
what good are high-tech computers then?"

Elders have perspective because we were there, a long time ago, and while politicians may
have been just as corrupt as they are today, and the wars just as brutal or more so, and
greed rampant every where in high places - at least the earth itself and the earth's waters, were all okay.

That's no longer true. The earth is not okay. And it's not okay in ways that fill many of
my generations with absolute terror because we are aware of how this is already affecting
the health of our grand Children, and this fills us with increasing alarm and sadness. My
immune system and most of those of my generation, is stronger than the immune systems of
my grandchildren, and the grandchildren of other seventy year-olds. This is because we
enjoyed a blessing our grandchildren will never know - that growing up in a largely
chemical free environment. And the chemicalization of industry has spread every where and
the logging industry is no exception.

Clear-cutting, recently renamed "retention logging" by forest companies, requires massive
amounts of herbicides and pesticides on replanting. These chemicals contain compounds that
mimic the female hormone estrogen. These compounds lodge in top soil, and seep into groundwater and are being linked by an increasingly number of medical researchers to the fifty percent drop in male sperm count and the highly unusual prevalence of diseases that were previously only associated with old age, like breast cancer and prostate cancer, showing up in alarming numbers in very young people. These trends are
documented in books on the market such as: Our stolen future, Living Downstream, and the
Feminization of Nature, plus many articles and CBC documentaries.

So it has seemed to me for a long time that the men in charge of the World's affairs have
not been willing to approach the earth's environment in a respectful manner,and it was a
year and a half ago that I, along with a group of like-minded women, came together and
formed a collective we called "Women In The Woods". And if I may I would like to read the
first paragraph our mission statement, quote: "We Women In The Woods, have come together
as a group in order to facilitate an understanding and protection of Public forests of British Columbia. We declare that women, as mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts and friends, have a special interest in the preservation of our life support systems as women are, and have been, historically speaking, Moderators of society and stewards of the land. And it is in this role of moderators and stewards
that we struggle to protect what is left of the public forests of British Columbia from
privatization and devastation by Provincial governments, the logging companies, and the
indifference, of not actual collusion, of the courts of British Columbia."

Sir, our collective does the usual things that most environmental groups do, we write letters, petition government, call and visit MLA's and speak anywhere we are invited to speak. But when we first read Gordon Campbell's "Working Forest" Initiative and understood the ramifications of the proposed legislation and what this would mean to every man, woman and child in BC, and indeed in all of Canada - and that for whatever reasons, the Times Colonist, the Vancouver Sun, and the Province, the three largest local
newspapers in BC seemed unable or unwilling to try explain to the public just what these
proposed changes would bring to us all, then we women of Women In The Woods decided to
launch our own campaign to alert the public.

And here I would like to return to the Women In The Woods Mission statement page 2, paragraph 2, and I quote: "We, Women In The Woods, do not disdain using peaceful civil disobedience as a tool to bring attention to the plight of the Public Forests of British Columbia as we are aware of the long and honourable history that peaceful disobedience has played in the evolution of law in this Country and on this Continent.
We recognize that peaceful civil disobedience, far from being in opposition to the law, is part and parcel
of the law and we, Women In The Woods, declare our right to engage in participatory democracy."

So last Valentines Day, on February 14, in order to raise public awareness of what was actually in Gordon Campbell's proposed Working Forest legislation, Women In The Woods blocked the right twin lane on Government street in Victoria that leads to the front of the Parliament Buildings. We chatted up the motorists with Chocolate kisses and information sheets and it all went very well. The people of British
Columbia, and tourists, too, love the public forests of BC, and want to talk about them.
But of course the police appeared shortly and told us in no uncertain terms to take our Valentine placards, our Chocolate kisses, and ourselves our the middle of the road.

I refused, was taken to jail, charged with obstructing a police officer, spent 2 weeks in jail and that was that. Everybody, including me, felt that justice was served. And I felt that justice had been served because I was arrested and charged as any other person blocking a public road would have been - under the Criminal Code.

However, when Women In The Woods went out to the Walbran in May and June, we found we couldn't take the Criminal Code with us, at least not as far as Weyerhaeuser's Tree Farm License No. 44. In fact, when our Criminal Code, which serves the nation so well in all other circumstances, hit the border of that powerful, US based transnational logging corporation well, the Criminal Code was just knocked out cold. It just
lay there on the ground, unconscious, gasping for breath, and we had to go on without it.

So it took almost two and a half weeks for me and Jenna Bradley to be arrested in the Walbran compared to the less than thirty minutes in Victoria, for essentially the same action, blocking a public thoroughfare.

The reason it took so long in the Walbran - well, it took time for Weyerhaeuser and the contractors and lawyers and the Attorney General and the Courts to start meshing together so that the entire rigmarole of herding protesters into that one legal straight jacket, that one block hale of special arrest and charge category that would guarantee.

That worried citizens who peacefully join a blockade in their own public forest to protest
their destruction will be deprived of any of the protection of the Criminal Code that even
the most violent murderers have access to - and it takes time for all to this rigmarole to
get going so the RCMP can be instructed by the Attorney General not to arrest until all of
the proper parties are ready that will make certain that any Citizen who seriously Challenges the powerful logging companies of one day's profit (for after all, one old growth tree can mean up to 100 thousand dollars to a logging company like Weyerhaeuser), that any citizen who dares interfere with this plunder of our Public Forests must be impressed with the legal process reserved just for them, that will make
sure they have no legal defense because they will be charged with that archaic, unreasonable, undemocratic, entirely political charge of Contempt of Court, and will be faced with potential financial
ruin and lengthy prison sentences.

But even this almost total legal protection and insulation form possible public protest isn't enough to quell the fears of potential investors in the BC logging industry. Gordon Campbell invited the CEO's of the largest logging companies into this government to tell him of their greatest need, and they told him in no uncertain terms their greatest need was certainty. No capitalist risk taking for these guys. They demanded
absolute certainty. And one way to achieve absolute certainty is to declare that the public
forests of British Columbia are no longer public and to change the very name to something

This is how our public forests became the "Working Forest" in Gordon Campbell's recent legislation. And, how simply, by an order in Cabinet, under Stan Hagan, who is Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, our public forests as they were then, now Campbell's Working Forest, which composes one half of the province, can now not only be logged unmercifully, but the very land itself can be made private through a simple order in Cabinet with Stan Hagen playing the primary role. I quote on page 14 of the government paper 'A Working Forest for British Columbia page 14: "the accountability for decisions to
transfer Working Forest land to private - land status, with the Minister of Sustainable Resource Management playing the primary role." And again on page 15, same government document: "Generally, the Minister of Sustainable Resource Management or senior regional ministry will have authority for decisions to withdraw land from the Working Forest for conversion to private land."

We are talking here about half of the land mass of British Columbia in the hands of Gordon Campbell and Stan Hagan who are intent on making the public lands and forests of British Columbia not only open to private investment, but giving absolute assurance to private investors that our lands and forests will be theirs for the taking as soon as Mr. Campbell can get his "Working Forest" bill to become law.

But once our public lands and forests become private they will never be public again, and
NAFTA is there waiting to protect private foreign investment.

Sir, there are huge issues and they were much on my mind when I went out to the Walbran.
And I know that the issuing of injunctions in protest situations troubles at least some of
the Supreme Court Judges of B.C. Mr. Justice Wilkamson expressed concern about using
injunctions in protest situations in his judgement (Alliford Bay Logging V. Mychajlowyn)
in Jan 17, 2001. Mr. Justice Vickers expressed similar concerns when he lifted the injunction in the Elaho Valley in 2001. Mr. Justice Mock McEwan, when he subpoenaed an RCMP Staff sergeant to explain why the RCMP didn't just arrest the protesters in a blockade involving Slocan Forest Products in June of 2000, and Mr. Justice Pitfield on July 24, 2000, concerning an application for a new injunction in the
Elaho Valley by Interfor said in his reasons and I quote: (paragraph 59)

'There appears to be adequate provisions in the Criminal Code to permit the Attorney General to ensure the required protection. If the Attorney General doubts the adequacy of the Criminal law, the legislature should search for other means to ensure that the rights it has lawfully created are not abrogated by actions taken by members of the public. The responsibility to devise a means of ensuring that protection should not
be delegated to the Courts." Again it was Mr. Justuce Pitfield who in his oral reasons for a refusal of
stay in my application for dismissal for the same blockades in Walbran, changed the injunction to read on page 4 paragraph (23). "Now I am going to make some changes in relation to the injunction itself. The changes that I am going to make are within the inherent jurisdiction of the Court and I do not need an application from anyone. The names of Ms. Krawcyzk and Ms. Bradley will be deleted from the order. The
following will be added to the Conclusion of the paragraph 1, you can take this down if you want, because
they will still be caught under the brood purview of 'Any person having notice of the order'."

"Provided that this order shall not bind either Betty Krawcyzk or Jenna Bradley, each of whom shall be and remain liable to prosecution for any offence of whatever nature or kind and wherever committed by either of them in contravention of any provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada or of any statue or regulation of the Province of British Columbia," and Mr. Justice Pitfield went on to say how Ms. Bradley and I might be arrested under the Criminal Code should we so back out and blockade in the Walbran again - and he
gives intimidation and mischief as examples.

It's really difficult to know what to make of these changes. Does it mean that if Mrs. Bradley and I go back out to the Walbran to blockade again along with two others willing to be arrested, that Mrs. Bradley and I will be arrested under the Criminal Code while the two others will be arrested under a court ordered injunction that would lead to the charge of contempt of Court?

This would be blatantly unjust and it wouldn't do anything to elevate the prestige of the justice system. But with all due respect, sir, it's because of the prevalence of SLAPP suits and Court ordered injunctions, that in my opinion give rise to contradictions and these kind of confused rulings. And with this kind of confusion from the bench I don't think anybody should be doing prison time over anti-logging protests.
Certainly not until judiciary in general can come to more of an agreement, I personally think its miserable to
hear judges say they disapprove of the SLAPP suits and injunctions but then keep on giving them out anyway.

Sir, concerning the videos you watched of our blockade, I would like to correct two impressions they seemed to have been left on you because you commented on them. One had to do with the women laughing and singing before Jen Bradley and I were arrested. You seemed to take particular offense at one of the verses I sang that went "I am a judge falling off the bench." Sir, I also sang the verse "I am a bear browsing through the brush" and I am no more a bear browsing through the brush than I am a judge falling off
the bench. The words are symbolic - we want the judges' rulings on contempt of court to fall off the
bench, not the judge themselves. And women sing, it's something women do, and watching the
singing on video washed over me like a blessing.

The other impression I want to speak about concerns how our blockade was organized because
it seemed to bother everybody a lot - and that was when logging employers came down to the
blockade our male supporters weren't allowed to speak.

Sir, anyone who has ever been to any psychological courses or even just casually observed
human behavior knows that the greatest potential for physical violence occurs when two
opposing males or two opposing groups of males begin arguing with each other in direct

And as I tried to bring out in cross examination, there was some really nasty violence
alleged to have occurred in the same area we were camped in, inflicted by the employers of
the same contractor we were facing on this blockade. So yes, I took a leadership role in
this - ruling that our male supporters were to stand behind us and not speak. This was
primarily a Women In The Woods blockade and I was the elder woman. It was my
duty to do so. And I was very aware that we were deep within an isolated area with a history of
violence, no RCMP protection and with no communication except a sattelite phone that
worked sometimes.

My constant, over riding concern was that all of the people involved be physically safe. And people were safe. I'm also proud of the way the men who supported us, took direction from us and who when asked not to speak, bit their lips and chewed their tongues and did
not speak. They were very brave.

Sir, I refuse the charge and conviction of Criminal Contempt of Court. I believe it to be
a political charge and not a true one, I do not own it, I will never admit to it and I
refuse to internalize it no matter how long I stay in jail.

I want a correct legal description and charge for what I did in the Walbran, which was to
block a public road on Weyerhaeuser's tree farm license No.44. I deserve this as a citizen
of this country, as a citizen of this province, and I refute what appears to me to be a
two tiered justice system, one for ordinary folks and one for wealthy, powerful corporate

I must add, sir, as a taxpayer, it annoys me no end that Weyerhaeuser, this US corporate
giant, does not even have to pay for a lawyer for this trial because the Attorney General,
by elevating my charges to Criminal Contempt of Court, allows the Crown to take up
Weyerhaeuser's complaints and then BC taxpayers pay. We are all here today
paying for this privilege of having a foreign corporation strip our old growth public
forests of our most valuable trees.

Sir, if a private person acted in the way Weyerhaeuser does, with no concern for the
property of others, if a private person took the most valuable items out of a public
holding, and then trashed what was left behind, they would be thrown in jail almost as
fast as I usually am. And yet Weyerhaeuser, who is a corporation, is afforded all of the
rights and privileges of a private person but with none of the responsibilities of a
private person - while I, who actually am a private person and citizen, am
judged to have no standing in the matter, that is, no right to try to prevent in a
non-violent way, the destruction of my own property as a co-owner of the public forests of
British Columbia.

And just as we, Women for the Woods, declare that a corporation is not a person, we
declare that a temporary tree farm license is not a transfer of public property to
private. A tree farm license is a lease, nothing more. And we refute this notion that a
temporary lease allows Weyerhaeuser all of the privileges of private property while, once
again, none of the responsibilities.

Morality vs Legality

Sir, nobody ever argued for the abolition of slavery on the grounds that slavery wasn't
legal. Slavery was legal in the countries and states that had slavery because the men of
wealth and power in those places made sure the laws suited their practices.

So the abolitionists didn't argue points of law centered around whether slavery was legal
or not, but instead, that slavery was immoral.

And the arguments used to contest child labour laws, or the lack of child labour laws,
didn't focus on the existing laws themselves, but the immorality of hiring little working
class kids to toil and die early deaths in manufacturing plants and in themines.

And the struggle over women's right to vote didn't concentrate primarily on
existing laws - the focus of the argument was whether or not it was right and moral
to keep over half the population from voting.

Sir, all of the great struggles in the evolution of law and society in the
so called civilized world in the past two centuries, all of these great issues
surrounding slavery, child labour, women's rights, union organization, racial equality. All
of these great issues were not argued by the men and women trying to change unjust
laws, that the laws as they stood, weren't legal. The underlying focus of arguments always
centered on the growing perception of a large number of people that slavery, child
labour, a nation of disenfranchised women, semi-starving workers and racial inequality was -
well, immoral. And I believe, Sir, along with the women of my collective that the plundering of the
earth's life support systems in general, and the plunder of BC's public rainforests in
particular is equally an issue of morality.

We believe that it is grossly immoral conduct for huge, transnational corporations,
wrapped in legality, to steal the life support systems of future generations.

I'm very aware, sir, of past rulings by the BC Supreme Court in this allegation of
immorality coming from people like me. The courts have consistently said that this
question of morality or immorality of the destruction of our ancient public forests, that
the morality or immorality of how protesters are arrested and charged and prosecuted is
not the business of the court, and that the only thing the courts shoould look at in
protest cases is whether or not the accused brake an individual judges order.

So the great questions facing all of us today, and we are all bound up in this collective
struggle against rapidly depleting life giving resources, whether we will or nill, but
because an individual judges order stands paramount, and because this individual judge's
order in the form of an injunction will take precedence in the Supreme Court of British
Columbia over all other considerations. Over the right to a fair trial which is impossible
under the Contempt of Court charge, over the rights of citizens to try to protect their
public property in ways that doesn't require millions of dollars that they don't have, to
try to sue the government and the logging companies, this injunction appears to be more
important to the Supreme Court of British Columbia than, due process and democracy itself.
And this, Sir, in my opinion, is immoral.

Sir, I have never suggested that I shouldn't take responsibility for my own actions, In
fact, I insist on taking responsibility for my own actions.

That's why I prefer to remain in jail after arrest rather than sign a promise not to go
back into the forest. In a very real sense I feel this would be tantamount to signing away
my responsibility, a tacit admission that perhaps I had been doing something I shouldn't
have been doing when I was arrested.

For me to sign such an agreement of compliance would mean that Weyerhaeuser,
through the courts, could command me to police myself to their requirements, which
would serve to persuade me to embrace an internal control that would tempt me to lose
faith in my own inner sense of purpose and responsibility.

But however you find me on sentencing, Sir, I have been incarcerated continuously since
June 24 and I was held for three weeks without charge in May.

Sir, to be held three weeks without charge is almost unheard of in Canada,
except perhaps lately, with suspected terrorists.

I want to assure the Court that I am not a terrorist and I highly resent being treated
like one. My sentencing is in your hands, sir, but with all due respect I ask that you not
impose conditions attached to my sentence.

Freedom consists of the ability to choose freely between the courses of thought and action
presented to one. And I exercise this freedom wherever I am. In prison I consider myself a
political prisoner and conduct myself accordingly.

My body is in prison but my spirit is not. And neither while in prison, do I think of
myself as being separated from my children and grandchildren, from my friends and
colleagues and supporters and from the old growth public forests of British Columbia.

I carry all of these in my heart, they are part of me, and I will never bargain or condition away one iota of my freedom or theirs, or my utter belief in equality under democracy and the rule of law.

If this court imposed condition on my sentencing I will not feel honor bound to abide by
them because I will not agree to them. I must repeat here what I advised Mr. Justice
Parrot before he sentenced me for blockading in the Elaho Valley in 2001, Sir, you must
lock me up or let me go.

Thank you

well spoken 12.Nov.2003 16:34


well spoken. respect your elders, they deserve it.