Dr. Allen Schoen

C.A.L.M. Creator and Instructor

Spirit Bear Revival

I have been blessed with experiencing one of the last great wildernesses in the world, The Great Bear Rain Forest,  before it gets devastated by a planned tar sand, dirty oil pipeline from one of the  greatest environmental disasters in history, the Tar sands of Alberta to one of the most sensitive and pristine  coastlines in the world on the British Columbia west coast.  It is an amazing living example of the Kindred Spirits Project where the First Nations bands still live and work in harmony with the animals and environment despite all the outer challenges from corporations interested only in financially extracting as much as they can from the environment and leaving the devastating results to everyone else to deal with.  I stayed with the Klemtu First Nations band in their Spirit Bear Lodge and spent hours interviewing band members from 18 years old to their elders and their chief.  I was blessed that their 30 year old (youngest ever) Chief, Doug Neassloss was by bear guide for a few days.  We discussed the endless challenges from corporations to destroy their homeland as well as how their culture is so intimately intertwined with all the animals and the nature that they share their homes with.  The human animal bond is evident in every moment here.  Watch this to get just a tiny impression of being in this precious, endangered  great bear rainforest.  This great bear rainforest video is a clip from the National Geographic documentary on this endangered region.

The dogs that are so peaceful as they live in the village side by side with everyone guide us down to the boats each morning. The whales and porpoises are present throughout our explorations of the fjords. Though their elders share that this is just a minute number compared to the hundreds of whales, humpbacks, orca’s and dolphins that swam through this channels for hundreds of years before being wiped out by the whaling industry.

The spirit bear, kermode bear, the white black bear is the symbol of the uniqueness of this last temperate rainforest.  Apparently it is a recessive gene in this one isolated group of black bears that leads to 1 in 10 of the black bears being born white, though not albino.  The elders feel that this is a vestige of a survival attempt for the bears during the last ice age.  However, the spirit bear is lowest on the totem pole of all the bears, the grizzly being the most dominant and then regular black bears. So, they are rarely seen and only after all the other bears have feasted on the spawning salmon.  Apparently as more grizzly bears invade their territory and Prince Royal island, their last home, they are becoming even more endangered.  As the salmon are becoming more and more scarce their due to over fishing and climate change, their are fewer rivers where salmon spawn and less food for all of them.  I have a whole new appreciation and respect for the extremely sensitive and fragile interconnectedness of all beings after experiencing a week in this magical place with the wildlife and the indigenous people and how intertwined their very survival is.

I invite all of you to watch this video, check out the national geographic documentary on the great bear rain forest and support all efforts to save this fragile, majestic coastline and home to the very last spirit bears left on this earth. Some say there are only about 200 of the spirit bears left, yet the chief here says that is only a guess and he thinks there are even less.  Check out the spirit bear research foundation and the rainforest conservation society to help save the spirit bear and all their kindred spirits sharing this precious part of our dear mother earth.