Monday, July 4, 2011

white spirit bear

A few months ago I found it difficult to read three news articles while in Vancouver at my childhood home.

The first was the news about the starving bears and eagles in the early spring in B.C. - both starving due to the lack of pink and chum salmon returning to their spawning grounds last fall. Young starving bear cubs ended up in wildlife rehab centers and hundreds of eagles at a time were scrounging for food from a garbage landfill site near Vancouver, B.C.

I was also saddened and maddened by the second news I read of the proposed tanker route off the westcoast of B.C. that would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands. The tar sands and projected pipelines are enough in themselves to be environmentally disastrous for our planet, however, the projected route would take the tankers into the head of Douglas Bay - a pristine land and habitat to abundant wildlife including the black bear and the rare kermode or white spirit bears where a potential oil spill would be catastrophic.

An oil spill in this region could wipe out wildlife in the area both directly and indirectly - directly by destroying salmon runs, and indirectly by starving the ecosystems that rely on salmon for food - including bears, eagles, wolves, sea lions, orca and humpback whales... An online petition is available to sign: here.

I highly recommend the following film, describing the plans to try and save this unique ecosystem:
To top it off, the third news I read was about bear trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest, located along Canada's Pacific coast, spanning 21 million acres of some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. As one of the largest temperate rainforests on Earth, it's stunning mountains, forests, fjords, and waterways are home to thousands of species of birds, plants and animals – including grizzlies, black bears and also the white spirit bear. Although the spirit bears are protected, they are born from black bear mothers - it is a particular recessive gene that makes them white. Reducing the population of black bears in general could potentially wipe out the population of white spirit bears whose total number is less than 200. A petition is available to sign here: stop trophy bear hunting in British Columbia.
I have loved bears for as long as I can remember and feel a deep spiritual connection to them. When I lived in Whistler B.C. many years ago I had many close encounters with them while hiking in the wilds. Unfortunately, many bears began to rely more and more on garbage from the landfill site as their habitat was being developed into an all season resort. As a result, the bears were also coming more frequently into neighborhoods for 'garbage-food' where they were inevitably destroyed.

The more recent news of the bears and their habitat being threatened broke my heart. When it feels like I am carrying a lot of grief for the suffering of our world's wild habitats due to our actions, I feel like there is a mini time-bomb inside that is ready to explode... and it is what often is my inspiration to dance - to dance my grief, my prayers, my hopes, and my optimism...

When I met wonderful and talented Rex for a photo / dance session (see one of his sessions with Momo here: 'Tough Love in the Gravel'), he had no idea I had a dance of grief in mind, nor that I was prepared with a bag full of costumes and props! I was grateful for his willingness to capture this dance of connection to the suffering of the bears in film and to be my witness.


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her -
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

Mary Oliver

Thank you for viewing my blog... I hope you may find some inspiration within it - to dance your own dance of grief, eco-activism, protest, connection, optimism...

Heart-full thank you, Rex, for taking the photos and for your open mind and heart!

Grateful for this dance practice as taught by my butoh mentor, Momo and the other members of Momobutoh who inspire so lusciously. See our collaborative blog here: Momobutoh Company.

(The above photos of bears are from the internet and I am sorry there were no credits to the photographers that I can share here).

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