Bear With Me: Art of Dakota Bear Sanctuary

Image: Large Tree Trunk in the Dakota Bear Sanctuary
We're Logging More Than Our Old Grown Trees. Image: Bear Bookcase
We're Logging More Than Our Old Grown Trees. Image: Bear Chair
We're Logging More Than Our Old Grown Trees. Image: Bear Table

Bear With Me: Art of Dakota Bear Sanctuary

In August The Only Animal took a group of artists to Dakota Bear Sanctuary, an ancient yellow cedar forest on the Sunshine Coast that is threatened with logging. The artists saw some of BC’s oldest trees, crawled inside bear dens, snacked on wild blueberries, and learned the history. On the traditional lands of the Skwxwú7mesh Nation, we gathered around the pre-contact culturally modified trees. Then the artists pitched pieces from their artistic impulses that could help protect the forest. We invite you to experience those pieces in our online gallery below: Bill Hawley’s photography, Jessica Harvey’s music video, Teo Saefkow’s sound walk and Trent Maynard and Sophia Dagher’s films.

If it brings you delight, please click on the button to sign our petition or send a 1-click email to those who will decide whether Dakota Bear Sanctuary will be logged. The sales list for the cutblock goes out April 1, 2021, so time is of the essence. For your help, and on the behalf of the bears who are denning with their young in the Sanctuary right now, we thank you.

'Bear With Me' is brought to you by The Only Animal's Artist Brigade. The Artist Brigade brings the arts and artists to the front lines of the climate movement.  The goal is to bring artistic imagination, vision and the heart into the telling of the climate story in order to mobilize a society paralyzed by climate anxiety and grief. It is a leaderless, national movement to spark exponential growth of climate action. For more information and to sign-up for the Artist Brigade, visit us here.


Sign The Petition


*Funded by the Canada Council’s Sector Innovation Program


TAKE ACTION! with the Citizen Action Kit

If you are inspired by the art, if you care for the bears, if you love ancient forests, please act with us to Protect Dakota Bear Sanctuary. Click on our Citizen Action Kit and find 3 things you can do in five minutes. Sign a petition, write an email to the decision makers, connect to the forest watch groups.
Video by Sophia Dagher
Citizen Action Kit created by Sophia Dagher featuring art by Elli Zogia
For more information, please visit our partners:


Photography | We're Logging More Than Our Old-Growth Trees
by Bill Hawley

I travelled to the Dakota Bear Sanctuary on a day where the entire province was  blanketed in a thick smoke caused by forest fires in California and elsewhere in the United States. It was powerful seeing the literal, physical effects of climate change on our way of life, feeling your lungs burning slightly from inhaling particles in the air but then walking into an ancient forest and being amongst something that is one of the last remaining natural tools for preventing these global climate catastrophes from becoming the norm. 

While on the walk we heard from Hans Penner about the struggles that Elphinstone Logging Focus has had with BCTS over the years of fighting to keep this forest from being  logged and sold as timber. Living in the city you are so removed from these ancient forests that  there is an out-of-sight-out-of-mind headspace where people don’t think about where their  wood products come from and what effect clear cutting large swaths of old growth forest has  on the world.  

Spending the day at the Dakota Bear Sanctuary was an incredible eye opening experience for me. On my return to the city after the walk I found myself talking about the temperature change that you feel walking from the clear cut to the living forest. You could feel a cooling of what felt like at least 3 degrees. It was the equivalent of walking into a giant  refrigerator. You could see the moisture on the leaves and smell the dirt and the organic matter  immediately upon entry. 

Additionally there are over 33 active black bear dens in the Dakota Bear Sanctuary that  would be removed if clear cutting were to happen. The removal of those dens would take away  the bear’s habitat and force them to migrate into heavily populated areas. Bears and humans  unfortunately don’t cohabitate all that well so therefor deforestation is inevitably a death  sentence for the bears. This was our point that we wanted to bring to the public eye. 

With the help of The Only Animal and 123 West we set out to create images that would  take the issues being faced all the way on the sunshine coast in their old growth forests and  bring it into the eyes of the people, make them take a second look and realize what’s at stake.

Tracker | a demo
By Jessica Harvey

Ancient Wonders of the Dakota Bear Sanctuary | a short film
By Trent Maynard

Artists in Dialogue

One of the projects to protect Dakota Bar Sanctuary was the art exhibition “Our Ancient Forests” curated by Sadira Rodrigues at Sunshine Coast Arts Centre. Meet the artist, and do a virtual tour of the exhibit in this virtual artist talkback from November 2020.

Forest Walk Through the Dakota Bear Sanctuary
By Teo Saefkow

Take a listen, in your own neighbourhood, or just in your home. (mp3 option available below).