Ian McAllister, B.C. wildlife photographer and writer from northwestern, spoke at the tidemark theatre Nov. 19 about his new book “Great Bear Wild,” which chronicles wildlife stories of bears and other creatures in the pacific Great Bear Rainforest.
McAllister was introduced by former Haig-Brown House writer-in-residence and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, who emphasized the reason the writer/photographer’s work was important. Nikiforuk mentioned specifically the gateway pipeline project plans, stating the only way to avoid climate change is to avoid investing in oil and gas. Moreover, spoke about the massive forests in northern Alberta which are threatened, giving us a glimpse of what could occur on the central and north coast of B.C. Essentially Nikiforuk did the “doomsday” reasoning in saying the pipeline project would be “expanding a project that should not be expanded,” while McAllister focused more optimistically on what the coast currently has as an ecological kingdom.
McAllister introduced himself as an “unemployable recluse who prefers the company of bears and wolves over people.” The writer/photographer has lived in Bella Bella for 25 years working on various conservation projects while publishing several non-fiction books. His works have mostly been written “through the eyes of grizzly bears” on the mainland, but his new book explores their relationship with the ocean. McAllister spoke of the Great Bear Rainforest romantically, describing his meetings with bears, seals and wolves of the area. He compared many of the animals to a friendly companion, while also capturing their wild beauty in his lens. McAllister described the current ecological state of the diverse coast as an “inescapable resurgence of life.”
The wildlife expert then went on to speak about the conservations efforts being made by organizations on the coast, using underwater cameras and hydrophones to document the acoustic levels in the water. If development were to occur, the acoustic levels would be too high and potentially dangerous to marine life.
McAllister said he “can’t think of a more critical time to get involved then now,” urging the general public to imagine what they might to do overcome a personal challenge, and try applying that to a broader picture. He says “be creative,” because it will be meaningful to children and grandchildren whether or not we get involved in this fight.
The book features beautiful images of creatures from the Great Bear Rainforest, and is full of unique tales directly from the wild.