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Fairy Creek protester released pending appeal of 60-day sentence

The appeal’s primary argument will be that Gladue sentencing principles were improperly applied in Angela Davidson’s case, says her lawyer
Angela Davidson or “Rainbow Eyes” is chained to a logging gate shortly before being arrested at an access to the Fairy Creek watershed. VIA CHEK NEWS

A deputy leader of the federal Green Party has been released from jail pending an appeal of her 60-day jail sentence for her role in old-growth logging protests at Fairy Creek, near Port Renfrew

Angela Davidson was released from the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge on Monday afternoon after six days in jail.

Davidson, also known as Rainbow Eyes, was convicted in January of seven counts of criminal contempt for breaching an injunction covering the Fairy Creek area and breaching her bail conditions for incidents spanning from May 2021 to January 2022.

She was initially arrested for blocking a forestry service road by chaining herself to a gate within the Fairy Creek injunction area, and subsequently returned several times to the area, ignoring the terms of her house arrest.

Davidson, 38, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo last week to 60 days in jail, minus 12 days for time served pre-trial, and 75 hours of community service.

Her defence lawyer, Ben Isitt, said the appeal was filed on Friday and the Court of Appeal ordered her release on Monday morning.

The appeal’s primary argument will be that Gladue sentencing principles were improperly applied in Davidson’s case, Isitt said in an interview.

Gladue guidelines require courts to consider an Indigenous person’s background during sentencing.

While Gladue and a number of similar cases were discussed “at length” and were cited in Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson’s sentencing decision, Isitt argued that it was improperly applied and “failed to give a meaningful effect.”

“When we consider Rainbow Eyes’ circumstances as a Kwakwaka’wakw land defender, her particular teachings and customs … the circumstances around her in helping search for a missing Coast Salish person on several of the offense dates, all of those circumstances weigh in favour of a lighter sentence,” he said.

Isitt said an appeal hearing will likely occur this fall, as it will take several months to ready trial transcripts and appeal books.

Davidson, whose first act after release was to visit a vegan restaurant on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, said she hopes to continue her work with the Green Party and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples while out on bail.

Davidson expects the months before the appeal to be “tiring” but said that it will be worthwhile

“The Canadian government has the opportunity to really be the first to show the world that they can work with the peoples of the land in a peaceful way, and not put us in jail for standing with our elders and for Mother Earth,” she said.

More than 1,100 arrests were made in the Fairy Creek protests, making it the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada.

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