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Kids Turn Hobbies/Education

Meet D. Simon Jackson - Director, Sprit Bear Youth Coalition

UPDATE: An animated movie is being produced to help explain and understand the plite of the Spirit Bear - Read More

Spirit Bear Youth Coalition D. Simon Jackson
Age: 18
Title: Director, Spirit Bear Youth Coalition
Web Site: Spirit Bear Youth Coalition

From Simon: The land of the spirit bear is a complex web of life, a model for the interdependence of species, a reminder of all that is right in this world.

When did you first become interested in conservation and protecting animals?
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for bears and the wilderness they call home. When I was seven, my family took me to Yellowstone National Park where I caught my first glimpse of a bear and soon I came to realize, that humans had an option - we had the power to destroy or preserve these magnificent monarchs of the wilderness. I chose the latter and since then, I have followed a dream to ensure wild bears, a wild place, for generations to come.
Spirit Bear Why the Spirit Bear?
Many people ask me why I chose to campaign for the future of the spirit bear rather than other endangered animals such as the Panda or the Elephant. As I saw it, the spirit bear was as unique to the world as the Panda bear is to China and lived only in my home province. I was moved by how gentle and trusting these bears were. This bear, I thought, deserved our admiration, respect, and most of all, our protection. To threaten its future was reprehensible. I knew I had to help. And to describe why the land of the spirit bear is such an unparalleled treasure is a task that is nearly impossible. With wildlife as diverse as that found in the Serengetti, to raging rivers teaming with salmon, to the cathedrals of ancient trees - it is a biological and ecological gem, a spiritual conduit, an essential beauty, and a wilderness in every sense of the word. Neither words nor photographs can do justice to being in place where perhaps no one has ever walked before nor does it create the emotions that are felt when hearing the screech of an eagle or a howl of a wolf. Everyone who enters this forgotten world is humbled by its power and inspired by its gifts. The land of the spirit bear is a complex web of life, a model for the interdependence of species, a reminder of all that is right in this world. It is truly wild and free and all that that implies.
What can kids do to help?
Youth are the future stewards of this land and our future is now being negotiated without our consultation. I believe youth deserve a say it what ultimately happens to the home of the spirit bear and that all youth must take a stand for this issue - as it directly affects our future. The best way to make your views heard is to write a letter of support. Writing letters to the B.C. provincial government is critical in order to show the Premier that there is world-wide support for this issue, especially among youth, as each letter is representative between 100 and 1000 people. Speaking with your local government representative is also important - tell them to represent you on this issue. In addition, make companies who purchase the wood products from this area of the Great Bear Rain forest cognizant of the fact that you will not buy their products if they are helping jeopardize the future of the spirit bear. Finally, help spread the word to your family and friends. Anything and everything you can do to make your voice heard helps ensure this bears place on our planet for generations to come.
Do Adults really listen to kids?
When I began, some people, I believe, did not take my involvement in this issue seriously. I was, nevertheless, overwhelmed by the time and experience so many people shared with me; environmentalists, individuals from industry and media included, while researching this issue. Wayne McCrory, Charlie Russell, and many other naturalists were my mentors and helped kick-start my involvement in this issue. And throughout my years working on this issue, the environmental community has listened to my opinions and offered me a great deal of respect. As well, the media were responsive to a youth working to better the community and as a result, did several feature stories. In April 2000, when Time Magazine honored me as one of the 60 Heroes for the Planet, the media coverage snowballed, resulting in 69 TV, radio, and print stories reaching close to 65 million people. I believe this is proof that youth - should they be committed to their convictions - are taken seriously and can make a difference.

Next page > Getting Involved: More of interview 1, 2 - Chat Transcript

Update: Spirit Bear - the Movie

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