Canada’s Natives Help The Spirit Bear Survive

“Adept at catching salmon because they blend into the daylight, the white bears are small in number – yet First Nations are stepping in to help.” A. Harvey, The Guardian

“Adept at catching salmon because they blend into the daylight, the white bears are small in number – yet First Nations are stepping in to help.” A. Harvey, The Guardian

Excerpt:Long kept secret, Canada’s ghostly spirit bears are even rarer than thought, By A. Harvey, The Guardian

“When Marven Robinson was a kid, any mention of spirit bears was met with hushed dismissal from the elders in his community, the Gitga’at First Nation of Hartley Bay, British Columbia.

Since the 19th century, Indigenous peoples in the area learned to keep the bears with ghostly coats a secret to protect them from fur traders.

As the ancient legend goes, the Wee’get (meaning the “raven,” known as the creator of the world) turned every 10th black bear white to remind people of the pristine conditions of the Ice Age.

Known as moksgm’ol, meaning ‘white bear’, spirit bears are sacred to the Indigenous people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest, a 6.4m-hectare swath of land in central and northern British Columbia…First Nations and academic researchers has revealed that the white bear is rarer and more vulnerable than previously thought…Urgently, about half of spirit bear hotspots fall outside of British Columbia protected areas, making their habitats vulnerable to logging, mining and drilling projects.

Spirit bears have long been present in First Nations traditional song, dance, and storytelling, but it wasn’t until 1905 that they were recognized by Western science and named Kermode bears, after Francis Kermode, former director of the British Columbia Provincial Museum… On top of their cultural, economic and genetic significance, spirit bears, along with their black counterparts, enrich the forest by spreading marine nutrients through the transportation of salmon from the stream to the forest where they eat it, away from the more aggressive grizzly bears.

Spirit bears are white-coated black bears that inherit their pale fur from a rare recessive gene. Photograph- Kyle Breckenridge

Equipped with new information about the vulnerability of spirit bears, the question now is how best to protect them… Leave it up to the First Nations, the original stewards of the land.

The bears help enrich the forest by spreading salmon nutrients. Photograph- Jack Plant

In 2018, the Edéhzhíe Protected Area in the Dehcho region of the Northwest Territories became Canada’s first Indigenous Protected Area. The land is now co-managed by the Dehcho First Nations and the Canadian government, who must make decisions by consensus, a process with roots in indigenous culture. They share a mandate to protect the land, support the relationship between the First Nations and the land, and contribute to reconciliation.”

“On the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden went down to Florida in an attempt to help secure the Latino vote in November.”

“I’ll tell you what, if I had the talent of any one of these people, I’d be elected president by acclamation,” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

Biden was referring toLuis Fonsi  [the artist who performed the Spanish song ‘Despacito’] as well as singer Ricky Martin and actress Eva Longoria, who also spoke ahead of Biden in Kissimmee, Florida.”Ed O’Keefe reports.

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