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Spirit Bear Cubs

"What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself." ~ Molly Beattie


Our 2007 season was filled with amazing wildlife viewing, awe inspiring First Nations culture, SUPER natural gifts from mother nature, and the best crew and guests anyone could ask for!

So much beauty, so many gifts, so many lessons learned—it would be difficult to adequately sum it all up. Moments sometimes spoke volumes. Over the next few months, we will post stories of ‘moments’—stories that we hope you will enjoy or that might cause reflection or even stir you to action.


As we travelled up the inside passage along the shores of Princess Royal Island under warm, sunny skies, the world seemed full of possibilities.  After all, I had one of my dearest long time friends on board who would normally want to spend her holidays at horse shows!  I’m excited to share with her, one of my favourite parts of the world.

This area, now well known as the Great Bear Rainforest, with its ethereal beauty and complex ecosystems, is home to one of British Columbia’s best known inhabitants, the Spirit Bear.
Is it possible—that just around the next corner, we could see our first Spirit Bear of the season?   We hear Marven answer Eric on the radio—he’s just around the corner and has something to show us.  Marven meets us with the Discovery Scout and tells me to get my camera and get on board with him.  In my haste to comply, Eric has to remind me about my life vest—but not about my camera!  My friend Joyan is right behind me! 

The tide is out—way out—revealing the sea’s bounty—a seemingly endless banquet of mussels, barnacles and other inviting delicacies.  No, we weren’t going ashore for a picnic, we were going a little closer to witness a lesson in progress.  Along a large cedar log on the beach, a huge, shiny Black Bear mum led her two tiny white cubs—on their way to the waiting banquet!  At this moment, anything seemed possible!  The mum came closer and closer to us—right to the waters edge—right to where the giant black boulders were blanketed in mussels.  Every move she made seemed to be mimicked by her two tiny cubs.  They first watched her as she loosened the shellfish from the rocks with her powerful claws—then the cubs tried.  Standing on his back feet, the smallest one tried his hand at removing the mussels.  Tears filled my eyes—tears of joy at the gift we were being given, tears of frustration and sadness at knowing that the diesel from the downed B.C. ferry had been bathing these very shell fish with its poison!  What did the future hold for these new little Spirit Bears if they were dining on poisoned food?  With the Canadian government wanting to lift the moratorium on oil tankers on our coast, the diesel from the sunken ferry, seemed like the least of their problems!  These little bears would be able to see the oil tankers go by en route to Kitimat—right from this very beach!  If B.C. Ferries couldn’t keep the Queen of the North from sinking and they couldn’t seem to find the money to pump out the seeping poisons from her, how long would it be before one of the tankers had an accident that would destroy the little bears’ food sources?

As we watched the two tiny white cubs follow in the footsteps of their black mother, I knew what I had to do—enjoy the gift, listen to what I was being told, and share with others, the magic and the power of this place and these animals.  Maybe, I thought, just maybe, that’s one of the reasons they are called “Spirit” Bears—their spirit really does help us see all the possibilities.

The following weeks, the same big black mum bear allowed us to witness more lessons in the making.  At the edge of the rainforest, not far from the beach where we’d first seen them, she was teaching her growing white cubs how to pick berries and climb for wild crab apples.  One of the cubs, more adventurous than its sibling, seemed to be the one that climbed to the highest branches of the crab apple trees or the one that hung precariously from a log to reach the most succulent of the huckleberries.  The other little bear loved to be a bit closer to mum—just in case she needed to suckle.  Watching the cubs, side by side, sample hawthorn berries, still makes me giggle when I think of it.  With paws being used like tiny hands, they would gently pull the berry- laden branch towards them.  One loved the berries—but the other one spat them out and returned to mum for a drink of milk—then was off to pick her own favourite berries.  Sitting, eating salal berries, with her little mouth stained purple, she warmed my heart.  This little Spirit Bear was full of mums milk, berries—and-- full of promise and possibilities!


When designing our schedule of trips for 2007 we decided that each year we would like to offer a new “Voyage of Discovery”. With that in mind we first offered “Magnificent Inlets of the Grizzly—North”. This trip was such a success that we now have two departures this year to the same area! Mountains blanketed in thick, white snow, granite faces, laced with waterfalls that seem to fall from the sky, velvety green estuaries carpeted in wildflowers—all provided the perfect backdrop for the photos of Grizzly and Black bears. Only one of our 2008 departures has 2 spaces still available! 2008’s “Voyage of Discovery” is called “Islands at the Edge”. Deserted stretches of white sandy beaches, spectacular sunsets, remote anchorages, amazing scenery, and endless opportunities for wildlife viewing and inter tidal exploration. There are only 2 spaces still available on this new trip! Contact us for more details.

Anyone that books a 2008 trip, (with the deposit paid), before January 1, 2008, will enjoy 2007 prices. As of January 1, 2008, all 2008 trips will increase by approximately 6%.

Many guests have already booked their 2008 trip(s)!


Oil tankers on our coast? The Canadian government is considering lifting the moratorium on oil tanker traffic in British Columbia waters. With the Enbridge Gateway Project wanting to pipe crude oil from the Alberta tar sands, overland to Kitimat, oil tankers would then be used to take the crude oil from Kitimat, down Douglas Channel, and out to sea. These oil tankers, on this route, would pass prime Spirit Bear habitat—habitat and food sources already contaminated by the leaking, sunken B.C. Ferry, Queen of the North! The mussels that the tiny cubs, (in the photo above), are eating are contaminated with the leaking biohazards from the sunken ferry. If oil tankers are allowed to travel to Kitimat, they will travel right by the very beach that these little cubs are feeding on!! If the B.C. Ferry Corporation and the government of the province of British Columbia couldn’t keep the ferry, Queen of the North from sinking in these waters, how can they promise that oil tankers will not do the same?!

For more information on the oil sands project that will use oil tankers to transport crude oil from Kitimat, past prime Spirit Bear habitat, visit or contact the Dogwood Initiative at or contact us at

Whaling for “research”?
Japanese boats have already set off on a five month mission to kill a thousand whales for “scientific study”. In their sights are:

  • 50 Humpback Whales
  • 50 Fin Whales
  • 900 Minke Whales

The Japanese say they kill for scientific purposes! For more information on B.C. whales, visit/support Cetacealab To sign a world wide petition to STOP WHALING, visit , a petition that will soon reach one million strong!! Contact us at for more information.

STOP Trophy Hunting on B.C. Coast!
Are you wondering why the Spirit Bear was not the official mascot of the 2010 Olympic Games? A mascot, such as the Spirit Bear, would have been a political nightmare for our provincial government—a government that only pays lip service to the protection of the Spirit Bear. Did you know that trophy/sport hunting of black bears is still allowed in the area known as the Spirit Bear Conservancy? (Every white cub we have ever seen has had a black mother!)

Did you know that trophy/sport hunting is still allowed in most “conservancies” in B.C.? Our provincial government talks about “going green”. This government still allows and promotes trophy/sport hunting in many B.C. Parks!

Following are the fees that trophy/sport hunters are to pay to have licence to kill these animals:

  • Black Bear: $180
  • Grizzly Bear: $1030
  • Wolf: $50

Only $180 to kill a Black Bear on B.C.’s north coast, inside the Spirit Bear Conservancy—a bear that very well could carry the recessive gene to produce a white (spirit bear) cub!

Our Coastal Wolves are under siege!  Only $50 and a hunter can blast them away—the hunter is not even required to report his kill! 

If you’d like to let our Premier Gordon Campbell know your opinion on Trophy/Sport Hunting, you can email him at

If you’d like to give your opinion to our Minister of the Environment (whose ministry hands out these licences to kill), you can email him at

"Clean" Energy from Banks Island on our North Coast
We are definitely keeping our eyes on Katabatic Power and their proposed wind farm on Banks Island, on B.C.’s north coast. Although we’d like to use clean energy, we don’t wish to use it at the expense of the environment, the wildlife and the people who live nearby this proposed project.

Katabatic Power plans on building 234 wind turbines on the north west side of Banks Island, with access roads and a substation on the island PLUS 146 to 160 km. Of transmission lines through some of B.C.’s most beautiful inlets—at least two of which are “Conservancies” in B.C. Parks! Banks Island is home to coastal wolves—animals that wouldn’t take well to wind turbines and access roads. (Access roads typically mean more hunters!) The transmission lines will cross prime Grizzly, Black Bear, and Wolf habitat, and, the summer nesting sites of many species of seabirds, ducks, trumpeter swans, eagles, songbirds, etc.

Katabatic Power says they are doing plenty of environmental studies and consulting with First Nations peoples whose traditional lands they will be impacting. However, as of today, there are no signs of this information on their website and I have not as yet had an answer to my questions, from them.

You can visit their website ( or email with your questions/concerns to (


Ian and Karen McAllister, co-authors of one of B.C.’s best known and most well read book, “The Great Bear Rainforest”, have delighted international readers for years now with their amazing photographs and stories of their travels there during years of studying the area.

Ian’s new book, “THE LAST WILD WOLVES, Ghosts of the Great Bear Rainforest”, with contributions by Chris Darimont and introduction by Paul C. Paquet, is guaranteed to stir its readers to action! During a period of seventeen years, Ian has photographed and studied these amazing wolves—and this book with its riveting photos, documents their unique behaviours and allows us a glimpse into some of the last wild places on earth. We thank Ian and Karen McAllister for this amazing undertaking, their passion for the Great Bear, and for their unending dedication to its preservation!


In January, look for an article from Wayne McCrory of Valhalla Wilderness Society and his thoughts on the extraordinary work his sister Colleen McCrory accomplished prior to her death on July 1, 2007.

Anyone wishing to donate in her memory, can do so by going to Anyone wanting more information on the important work currently underway by Valhalla Wilderness, including saving the Spirit Bear and helping save the wildhorses of the Brittany Triangle, visit Valhalla’s website at

Also coming soon…another story and more photos from our 2007 season.

Reflections Newsletter Archive

View our newsletter "REFLECTIONS": 2004, 2005,and 2006. (PDF file)

(Right: Photo credit to H.Brink)  

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." ~ Rachel Carson

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