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Simon Jackson Interview

Simon Jackson is passionate about protecting the endangered Kermode bear and its habitat.
Courtesy of SBYC
Kermode bears, or Spirit bears, are black bears with white fur.
Courtesy of SBYC

If you want to see a black bear with white fur, head to Princess Royal Island, British Columbia - it's the only place you'll see the endangered Kermode bear. Simon Jackson is one of the few people to have seen the white Kermode, or Spirit bear, and if things go his way, he won't be the last. Simon is doing all he can to save these rare bears from becoming extinct.

Simon Jackson - A Dream Is Born

Simon Jackson's passion for bears started when he was seven years old and saw a bear on a family camping trip. "I came to realize that humans had an option - we had the power to destroy or preserve these magnificent monarchs of the wilderness," says Simon. He set up a lemonade stand in grade two and raised $60 to protect grizzly bears. A few years later, Simon heard about the endangered Kermode bears and set out on a mission to protect them. "Many people ask me why I chose to campaign for the future of the Spirit bear rather than other endangered animals such as the panda or the elephant," Simon explains. "As I saw it, the Spirit bear was as unique to the world as the panda bear is to China and lived only in my home province [BC]. This bear, I thought, deserved our admiration, respect and most of all, our protection. I knew I had to help."

Simon Jackson - SBYC to the Rescue

Spirit bears live only on Princess Royal Island, which is part of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, and loggers wanted to take trees from this ancient rainforest. To ensure wild bears a wild place to live for generations to come, Simon started the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition (SBYC) in 1995. He persuaded 700 kids to write letters asking the government to keep logging companies out of the bear's habitat. In 1996, the BC government received more letters about the Kermode bear than any other preservation issue!

With the help and support of around six million SBYC members around the world, including naturalist Jane Goodall, scientist David Suzuki, and celebs like Charlotte Church and Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys, two thirds of the bear's habitat are now legally protected. The final third of the land however, called the Green Watershed, is still open to logging which is endangering the bears' habitat. "Our focus has always been about saving the Spirit bear and to do that, we need to protect a large enough ecosystem in order to conserve this bear's gene pool."

Simon Jackson - Coming to a Theater Near You

What better way is there to get people's attention than to make a Hollywood movie? The plight of the Spirit bear is being made into a CGI animated movie called The Spirit Bear by the same dudes who brought you The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid! "Unlike any movie made before, this movie will be made with the specific purpose of protecting its namesake, and a portion of every ticket sold to go see this movie will go directly back towards helping save this bear." It's set for release in the spring of 2009, so be sure to watch it when it comes to a theater near you!

Simon Jackson - Simon Says...

If you wanna help save the Spirit bear, Simon has some great advice for ya. "If young people want to help, they should go to our website, www.spiritbearyouth.org, and find out the latest that's happening in the issue. But it's the simplest acts that make the biggest difference. It's writing a letter, it's making your voice heard. And if people, no matter what age, start putting their opinion on record, and if enough people do it, it strengthens each letter that's mailed. And that's why it's so critical for everyone to take five minutes out of their day and write [BC] Premier Gordon Campbell and say, 'Protecting the Green Watershed will save the Spirit bear and we want this Spirit bear to be saved'. Beyond that, helping spread the word, tell your friends, family, community."

  • For more information on the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, head to www.spiritbearyouth.org!
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