In early 2013 we adopted an adorable white shepard/husky cross from a local shelter (Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society), who was born in foster care. They had rescued her mom from a nearby reserve just days before she had her pups. The mom had eight pups who were all born 10 days before Halloween. These eight adorable fur balls were given names like Raven, Jack-O-Lantern, Spooky. Our pup was named Spirit, a name we kept as it just suits her perfectly, in so many ways. She is a real gentle soul (as all our rescue dogs have been so far) who howls like a wolf and runs like a coyote. Who knows what ‘s in the mix? To us it doesn’t matter what kind of mix she is, we just know that we love her and she gives us so much unconditional love in return.
Sometimes I like to call her “my cute little spirit bear” as she reminds me of the Spirit Bears (Kermode Bears) that live in the rainforest of northern British Columbia, Canada. As much as we love to travel to BC we have never made it as far as the Central and North regions of BC, like the Great Bear Rainforest. One day!
Neither albino nor polar bear, the Kermode bear is a white variant of the North American black bear, and is found almost exclusively in the Great Bear Rainforest of the Pacific Northwest in Canada. The Great Bear Rainforest was created and named by environmental groups and First Nations Groups in the mid- 90s. At that time it was set aside as the largest protested temperate rainforest in the world, to protect logging and housing developments from encroaching further on bear’s territories, also giving complete protection to the rare Kermode Spirit Bear, making it illegal to shoot the White Bear. Members of the Gitga’at First Nation, whose traditional territory includes parts of the Great Bear Rainforest, call them mooksgm’ol (spirit or ghost bear).
There are legends that tell of how the Spirit Bears came to be. “The Creator wanted something to remind him of the Long White Time (when the world was covered in frozen glaciers) of before. So he chose Bear, the keeper of dreams and memory to help him out. Creator made a pact with Black Bear. Black Bear agreed after he was given huge assurances from the Creator, that he could live in peace and safety for all time, by letting one out of every ten Black Bears turn white. This was for a reminder for the Creator of the misery of the great ice age of before. This is why the White Bears to this day are still called Mooksgm’ol”.
I had seen a movie about the Spirit Bears long time ago when I was still living in Europe and have been planning since then to visit the area of Canada where these special bears live. While I have moved a lot closer to this area since watching that movie, I still haven`t been able to make it out to the Great Bear Rainforest. One day I will….. How amazing it would be to see these wonderful creatures in the wild!
When my daughter asked me the other day why I sometimes refer to our pup as “little spirit bear” and I started telling her about these mighty creatures, I realized how our beautiful and loving white pup is a reminder to me that one day my dream of seeing the Spirit Bears of the Great Bear Rainforest will come true. All eager to learn more about the spirit bears she started looking online for photos and more info, which is when we happened to stumble upon this book that was published a few years ago; Spirit Bear. It`s a cute story that follows the adventures of a young cub named Annuk, who lives in the Great Bear Rainforest. So until that day when we will be able to admire the power and beauty of the real spirit bears in the wild we’ll enjoy reading the stories and our own little spirit bear at home…..