So why 25,000 bears?
Because that's how many polar bears are alive, wild, today.
I'm frustrated that I've fallen in love with a place that is, by all scientific accounts, going to change dramatically. First there is the loss of the rail from Thompson to Churchill (see CBC updates here). The train is how we got to Churchill in 2016 because it was the least environmentally damaging way to travel. But the rail is also a lifeline for the people of Churchill and the surrounding area. To be restricted to only air transportation (expensive) or water (not viable for any of the winter months) is catastrophic to a small community. When I found out that that part of the rail was owned by a US company (Omnitrax) I was sick to my stomach.
Second, there are demonstrable changes occurring in the arctic that will have a direct impact on polar bears. Polar bears depend on the sea ice to access prey high in fat (usually seals). Successful hunting and feeding means they can sustain a walking hibernation during the spring/summer months of no ice. (Polar Bears International is an
excellent resource for more about this remarkable adaptation to the Arctic.)
Without ice, bears will have to become more resourceful to acquire enough calories to survive. And the sea ice in the Arctic is rapidly changing. Older sheets of ice are decreasing in volume and new ice is forming later and melting earlier. Groups such as SeaLegacy and the National Snow and Ice Data Center are documenting the changes occurring already in this part of the world. This is already increasing the volume of discussion for environmental and geo-politics. And the polar bear is in the middle of it all.
So I've been creating - glass work, felt work. My goal this winter is to sell enough work that I can send financial resources to the Churchill Northern Studies Center and to the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.
My hope is that I can raise enough money to make a meaningful difference to the lives of those living and working in Churchill.
Sometimes this feels like a pitifully small step...
...but every journey starts with a single step, right?
And it was only last year that I journeyed to a place that was remote and quiet and cold. And sacred...
I feel passionately that I have to try so we can maybe, just maybe, change the trajectory for those 25,000 bears.