Dakota Bear Sanctuary, an ancient forest in traditional and unceded Skwxwú7mesh territory on the Sunshine Coast has been threatened with logging for the last decade. In August 2020, The Only Animal brought the Artist Brigade there, and unleashed a hive of artistic creation intended to protect this forest. March 1, 2021 Skwxwú7mesh Nation announced that Dakota Bear Sanctuary was removed from the cutblock list and will be protected permanently.
The Skwxwú7mesh Nation, the Province, the forest defenders at Elphinstone Logging Focus and Living Forest Institute all have our deep gratitude. And you out there, if you signed a petition, sent a letter or postcard, are a member of the Artist Brigade or shared that work, this sweet victory belongs to you.
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 might help protect the forest. We invite you to experience those pieces in our online gallery: Bill Hawley’s photography, Jessica Harvey’s music video, Teo Saefkow’s sound walk and Trent Maynard and Sophia Dagher’s films.
'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.
*Funded by the Canada Council’s Sector Innovation Program
The project began as a series of erasure poems created out of a ministry of timber report on Old Growth forest. Gradually that mutated into what we have today – a series of poems inspired by the reading of government reports on forestry. Broadly, the poems are concerned with language, history, ecology and the idea of the divine.
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.
With the help of The Only Animal and 123 West we set out to create images that would take the issue of protecting old growth forest 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).