Laura W's winning entry for Great Bear's Got Talent

Over a month ago our Forest Team Intern Ana Terrazas blogged about an online contest Greenpeace has been running with its conservation allies, ForestEthics Solutions and Sierra Club BC – Great Bear’s Got Talent. We have now closed the contest, which was launched to raise awareness about the need to step up the conservation and human well-being work remaining in the region, and also having fun doing it, creatively.

More than 100 entries were submitted via Facebook. Many were fantastic, many were from around the world, and all were certainly heart-felt and gave a sense of what the Great Bear Rainforest means to them. More than 2000 voted and the entries were short-listed to five.

A selection committee consisting of renowned Canadian Artist Robert Bateman, Kitasoo-Xai’Xais Nation photographer, spirit bear guide Doug Neasloss (who also donated the generous prize of a week-long trip for two to Spirit Bear Lodge in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest), and senior forest campaigners from each of the three conservation organizations sat down and deliberated over the short list of the five entries. We had a very difficult time because each was so unique and evocative.

In the end, however, we agreed on one, and that was Laura Wasylyshyn. Greenpeace congratulates Laura for her successful entry, “Spirit in the Water”. It is a wonderfully subtle and yet powerful work that really evokes the ‘spirit’ of the spirit bear, and symbolically demonstrates the link between water and land, sea and forest.

When I contacted Laura to give her the good news, she was ecstatic. It was clear to me over the course of the conversation that she poured a lot of herself not only into her actual winning work, but also how she presented it - through a video and posted on Youtube.

As she said to me, “I’m super excited! I can’t contain myself! This is a dream come true. I want to make a video of my visit to show those who can't go to the Great Bear Rainforest themselves.  I am beyond excited.  And I'm bring my fishing license.” 

Laura will now be figuring out with Doug at Spirit Bear Lodge when she and her fiancée can actually head up there, as well as whether it will be feasible to take her work up into the rainforest (it is 4 ft by 3 ft). I am hoping to feature her as a guest blog here, based on her experiences of being in the centre of one of the most majestic places on earth. 

The other entries were all fantastic as well. The four other finalists will each receive a special package of gifts from Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions and Sierra Club BC. The three conservation organizations have been running the contest through as a means to creatively and significantly garner further public support to compel the Government of British Columbia to wrap up the implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements.

The two goals of the Agreements are to achieve 70 per cent protection of the natural levels of old-growth forests across the region, and to empower First Nations communities whose traditional territories make up the region to improving the well-being of their peoples. We have achieved 50 per cent protection, but the region remains at ecological risk without the goals being fully realized. With the success of the contest, the website has now garnered over 10 000 supporters  who believe the BC government needs to finish the job. 

All the entries brought a great deal of creativity and artistry to the Great Bear Rainforest and the collective desire to safeguard this jewel for future generations from current threats. We hope to showcase as many of the entries as possible in some form so stay tuned.

Again congratulations to Laura and the finalists!