Save the bear

Youth coalition founder to talk at Parksville Community Centre June 5

One person can make a difference.

Thats the message founder of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition (SBYC) will share with a crowd of people in Parksville when he speaks at the Community Centre on June 5.

“It’s going to be a night of celebration, celebrating how far we’ve come on behalf of the spirit bear and really trying to share a story of hope,” said Simon Jackson, founder of SBYC.

Jackson said he found his passion for bears when he was seven years old and spotted one while on a family camping trip. After learning the Kodiak bear needed help saving its habitat, he put up a lemonade stand to help the cause.

“I realized one person can make a difference,” he said. “So at 13 when I found out about the spirit bear, and the more I learned about it the more I realized how threatened it was and that made me want to help.”

Today, 17 years later, the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition has six million members around the world. The focus is trying to protect the spirit bear and its last intact habitat in the Great Bear Rainforest, and keep that area free from trophy hunting and oil spills, he said.

The group aims to raise awareness as well as come up with solutions to protect the habitat, in ways that won’t create economic hardships.

Jackson has also been a board member for the Jane Goodall Institute for the past decade and his story was featured on a CTV movie called Spirit Bear-The Simon Jackson Story.

Jackson has recently been travelling across Canada on a national speaking tour, spreading messages of hope at schools and other centres.

“Hopefully we can demonstrate to young people that not only is this a great bear worthy of saving but equally they can do the same thing that I’ve done for the spirit bear for an issue they believe in,” he said.

Jackson said the evening in Parksville will be a positive one, sharing what the coalition has achieved and inspiring others to take up worthy causes.

Two thirds of the land the group has been fighting for has been set aside for protection, he said, and if they work a little bit harder, the rest can also be saved.

“I actually feel very optimistic we’ll get it saved this year,” he said.

Jackson’s talk is being presented by Eco-Kidz Forest Parties and Camp Uganda at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on June 5.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and Jackson will speak at 7. Admission is by a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for students and all proceeds benefits the cause.

Fair trade organic Spirit Bear Coffee and tea will be provided by Pacific Brimm and door prizes and other gifts will be up for grabs.

For more on SBYC visit www.spiritbearyouth.org, and for more on the event email eco-kidz@shaw.ca or phone 250-951-1558.