“Great Bear Wild” by Ian McAllister

In the environment.

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The daily grind of big-city life means it can be easy to forget how close we are to nature. Most nine-to-five Vancouverites are lucky if they get a few minutes of outside time at lunch, let alone a weekend hike up the Chief or a camping trip along the Sunshine Coast.

And while we’d all like to believe we’re in tune with British Columbia’s exquisite natural landscape, the reality is that most of us aren’t. But Ian McAllister is.

The long-time environmentalist and photojournalist (and executive director of conservation non-profit Pacific Wild) has spent years eating, swimming, and sleeping alongside B.C. wildlife, from sea lions and whales to the iconic white-furred spirit bear. Focusing on our province’s most untamed and remote areas, McAllister’s images give the rest of us an uninhibited look at the natural world.

With Great Bear Wild, a book of McAllister’s writing and photographs that span two decades of conservation work in the Great Bear Rainforest, it is hard not to have hearts swell at the sight of B.C.’s majesty. Though released in 2014, its relevance remains today (and it will be available at the Greystone Books table at the Vancouver Photo Book Fair from April 21 to 23, as part of the 2017 Capture Photography Festival). Photographs of immaculate nature and incredible animals are paired with eloquent retellings of McAllister’s personal experiences. The book also discusses the problems facing the forest, its wildlife, and its First Nations communities—namely, big energy projects that threaten devastating bitumen spills into pristine and sacred waters. There is even a foreword written by a certain man who goes by the name of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

No matter how you interpret Great Bear Wild, no matter if you spend five minutes or five hours flipping through it, it will surely leave you with a distinct craving to explore, and a necessary pride for our beautiful B.C. And that’s something you can feel anywhere.


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April 18, 2017