I would like to take this opportunity to write for the bears. It must first be acknowledged that the bear is a big crest within Nuxalk culture. They are honoured and held high within the songs and dances of our Potlatches. Hereditary Chiefs celebrate them and work to protect them.
I have witnessed the mistreatment of bears in the Bella Coola Valley for a long time. I have heard the shots within the Valley since I was a young boy. Now when I hear gunshots going off in a neighbourhood, I call it in to the authorities. This past fall I found a five-year old sow dead and still warm on the side of the highway. Reports from drivers had come in about a bear staggering on the highway and sitting in the ditch. She had a small calibre bullet enter her rib cage and shatter in her lung – it took three days for her to die from the wound. This is still happening today despite all the other options available, and why? Well, I can see clearly the mentality of people defending the shooting of bears. This has got to change.
When you try explaining to some people about the importance of the bear to a native culture and the respect they should be given, it is not truly understood. When we place a monetary value on them, then it is understood. You can’t blame people for trying anything to help protect and preserve the bears in this day and age. Bears are now a part of a worldwide stage, I say, let’s showcase them and protect them without taking anything away from the environment.
I must mention something. It is wrong to attack Corissa Lee on her comments and witness account of the “Cherry Bear” shooting and illegal killing. The small black bear was shot just a short walk from her home. I know her report and her recollections of the shooting of this bear. Her statements are true and from her perspective, a new, young, and excellent addition to our community.
I felt Corissa’s pain when we talked on the phone; she has a big heart. We have the right to speak for the bear and, “Bear Witness” if needed. I agree with everything Corissa explained in her letter.
I am a Nuxalk Captain on a Coastal Bear and Wolf Patrol Vessel, the “Nan.” Nan means Grizzly bear in Nuxalk and in Heiltsuk languages. The Nan patrols and monitors Nuxalk Territory. The Coastal Bear and Wolf Patrol was put in place by fourteen Nuxalk Staltmc/Nuxalk Hereditary Chiefs. This became law at Chief Snuxyaltwa’s Potlatch on November 11-12, 2011.
Ten First Nations on the coast have now come together and declared a ban on the Bear Trophy Hunt within our Coastal Territories. The Coastal Bear and Wolf Patrol works with all the First Nations that have made this declaration for the bears. I am Nuxalk, and I will be here in Nuxalk Territory to provide my support and firm position for the monitoring and protection of bears.
I sent this newspaper a copy of the Central Coast Grizzly Patrol – Protocol for anyone who did not know we have already put this in place with the Nuxalk Staltmc. This is Nuxalk Traditional Law.
Way! Nuxalk Strong – Nuxalk Forever