Bear Witness at Science World
Sep 15, 2013 / 8:19 am
Coastal First Nations is pleased to announce that Vancouver's Telus World of Science has added the short documentary Bear Witness to its fall programming. The centre's regular visitors will now have the chance to learn about First Nations-led bear research — and the threat of trophy hunting — in the Great Bear Rainforest.
"We applaud the courage it took for Science World to come on board as a supporting venue," said Heiltsuk tribal Councillor Jessie Housty. "Trophy hunting is controversial in British Columbia, and it's a testament to this great educational institution that they would choose to shine a light on the problem and the work being done by our coastal communities."
The Great Bear Rainforest is the only place on earth where grizzlies, black bears, and the iconic white spirit bear all live together. Together, First Nations citizen-scientists and university researchers monitor 20,000 square kilometres of bear habitat — an area the size of the country of El Salvador. Using cutting-edge DNA analysis, these teams are able to track the movements of hundreds of individual bears, find out how they're related, and even analyze their diets and stress hormones.
At the same time, many of the areas under study are also open to trophy hunting. Typically only the head, paws and pelt of a hunted bear is taken, with the rest of its body left to rot. This practice not only disrupts scientific research and ecotourism operations, but stands in clear violation of First Nations values and tribal laws. The film Bear Witness explores this issue through the story of a young grizzly named 'Cheeky,' who was killed by trophy hunters in May 2013 in the Kwatna estuary.
"It's fantastic that the Telus World of Science is able to show families in the Lower Mainland the beauty of our territories, but also some of the challenges," said Kitasoo/Xai'xais councillor and bear viewing guide Douglas Neasloss. "The reality is, this is not just a First Nations issue. The special bond we have with bears is shared by all people in BC, whether they know it or not. We hope this film will help people see that."
The first public showing of Bear Witness will take place at the Telus World of Science on Saturday, September 14th at 5:30 PM. The screening is included in the regular price of admission.
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