Photocredit: Kristin Noack
What is the first thing you think about Canada and especially British Columbia? For me, it’s the diverse flora and fauna, mountains that are enveloped by clouds, and majestic black bear moms with their cubs.
Before I came to Chilcotin Holidays, based south of the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park, I was studying in Berlin, Germany. The city life was comfortable for me, having a subway station directly in front of my door and university just 15 minutes away. I didn’t go outside much because I never had time, my excuse for everything. I was either studying or working all the time and life was passing by as fast as cars in a city. I never wanted to be that person that works all the time and never has time for anything, except that was who I became. I wanted a transformational change.
One reason for coming to Canada was my study abroad semester on Vancouver Island, another one was to have an internship after to develop my leadership skills and to reconnect with nature. I already knew before that BC is famous for black bears, moose, beavers, deer and cougars but who would think that you could actually see them? When I thought about ‘reconnecting with nature’ I assumed I would be surrounded by some trees but still always be safe. As you can imagine, I was wrong.
Last week we brought our horses out to the range so that they can graze wherever they want. But they started to come back every day because the ranch is their home and it’s safe here. One day, I helped bring them out again and was leading our group of tail-tied horses walking like little ducks in a row. As we walked along the dirt road, I suddenly saw something moving between the trees. I stopped and looked a little bit closer. First, one bear cub was running by, then another one, and finally their mom. The black bear mom stopped while she was chasing her cubs and turned around towards me. For three seconds, we had eye contact. The air was full of tension and neither she nor I knew what the other’s next step would be. Literally anything could have happened but, thankfully, she disappeared quickly after. Usually, you should avoid being too close to a mother bear and her cubs because she will always react in a fierce and protective way to keep her children safe from enemies.
Half an hour later, I was still thinking about the confrontation with the mother bear, I realized what actually happened: I was part of nature. And as a part of nature, you never know what happens next. You are not always safe and comfortable as in a big city.
When I was back at the ranch, I started a little research about black bears and ended on a website about Native Americans and their beliefs. I found out the bear is a symbol for spiritual power, strength, confidence, protection, and good health. Moreover, bears are known for standing against adversity or, in other words, taking action and leadership. During my research, I read something that really made me question modern society; “When the bear shows up as a spirit guide in your life, it’s perhaps time to stand for your beliefs or your truth” (Spirit Animal, 2020). So, how much do bears and humans really differentiate? Why did humans start to dominate all the other species? Aren’t we supposed to all be equal parts of nature?
I was thinking about this in the past days and I learned two things: first, life begins out of your comfort zone. If you are not willing to leave your comfort zone, you will never experience personal growth and/or development. Second, nature connection deepens the connection to self. I have only been at the ranch for a month but I can already feel that my creativity is coming back, that I enjoy being outside ‘in the bush’ and especially that I learned the value of being surrounded by such diverse flora and fauna. It changed the way I see nature even more and all the connections between it and us. We ARE nature, always have been and always will be.
Julia, 19, Germany