Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Being Caribou

[image from their website : Necessary Journeys]

Folks, here is an adventurous couple with an amazing story. In 2003, wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer and his wife environmentalist Leanne Allison traveled 1500 kms on foot  across the Arctic tundra, following  the caribou herd's migration to the calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The journey took them five months, and resulted in their book, Being Caribou and the National Film Board's film of the same name. In the film Bush Sr and Jr both respond to concern for the caribou, Bush Sr by angrily stating "I'll go jobs for the American people, they can go with the caribou!"

Sigh. Must it always be jobs versus the environment? Sustainable solutions, and clean sources of energy, can provide jobs and help, not harm the environment, were the Status Quo-lovers' brains able to compute this information.

(link to film clip is here, click on the Being Caribou clip:)
They made this journey in hopes of raising awareness of threats to the caribou's survival. They point out the "Wildlife Refuge" designation is a misnomer, as oil and gas interests now threaten the migratory patterns of these animals.  

Book and film document their encounters with Arctic weather, icy rivers, mosquitoes and a hungry grizzly. In the film, one experiences their everyday lives during the journey and the wonder of running with huge herds of migrating caribou. It looks rugged, but quite glorious, especially as enjoyed in one's comfy armchair, with a cup of tea at hand!


In 2007, after a brief rest in which their son, Zev, was born, they paddled, portaged and sailed across Canada, with now two year old Zev and their dog, Willow. This time they were in search of Canadian wildlife author, Farley Mowatt, (Never Cry Wolf and many other titles). They set off from their home in Canmore, Alberta, and made their way across the country to the far shores of Canada, arriving  at the author's home in Cape Breton. What an adventure!

The film of that journey is called Finding Farley and a clip can be viewed here:
 http://www.beingcaribou.com/necessaryjourneys/film.html

Born to the trekking life, little Zev apparently walked every one of the kilometres himself. Some people have trouble taking a two year old to Walmart!

This film took top prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

I love this young couple's spirit of adventure, their concern for the environment and their love of the land. Both of these clips show the beautiful natural world they traveled through and are well worth the look. What a beautiful land North America is, especially when you get out of the cities and into the wild and untouched places.

We are so lucky!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Sherry for bringing awareness of this incredible couple. I can't wait to watch the clips. I'm right with you on the environment losing out to people and jobs. These jobs are never long lasting but their affect on the environment can be forever. The immediate seems to fill so many peoples minds and actions.:(

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