Social Injustice Affects BC’s Vulnerable

Our issues involving wildlife are linked to ‘social injustice’ starting at the very top and are many layered. Our society’s way of ignoring what is in plain sight and not dealing with hard truths makes it very challenging to change the paradigm that continues to re-victimize those most vulnerable in our society, including wildlife.

Recent news about residential schools and Canada’s cultural genocide was horrifying to hear and opened my eyes wider as a ‘settler.’ In a round about way being a wildlife advocate has somewhat prepared me for this time of reckoning and atonement.

Our issues involving wildlife are also linked to ‘social injustice’ starting at the very top and is many layered. Our society’s way of ignoring what is in plain sight and not dealing with hard truths makes it very challenging to change the paradigm that continues to re-victimize those most vulnerable in our society, including wildlife.

I will sincerely try to come to terms with my personal lack of action, advocacy and outward sympathy for our Indigenous Peoples. I will try and do better going forward.

We, as wildlife advocates, also understand the concept of re-traumatization, consciously or unconsciously, every time we hear of an unfair death or suffering of an animal we feel passionate about.

Animals, like children, have no voice and they need to be protected from those that would do them harm. We know the threats our wildlife and animals face – looking back through history to present day. Trying to make changes within a broken & corrupted system is very, very hard and seemingly next to impossible, but we must continue to try.

I think as wildlife advocates we too need to chart an enlightened way forward. We need to expose the systemic issues within our morally bankrupt system that continue to kill/victimize innocent beings in our midst and in plain sight of all or at least those willing to look.

The media need to understand that what is happening daily in BC to wildlife (and other animals) is wrong on so many levels. Killing animals or causing them harm and injury, physical or psychological, needs to become a criminal offence in the near future and not tolerated or condoned in anyway. To start, we need to actively reach out to schools of journalism and media showing them what is the truth about wild animals – specifically bears – and how to be more truthful and accurate when reporting on what is happening. We need to send them a glossary of terms to replace the ones they currently use when reporting. They need to learn to recognize they often are bearing witness to irrational fears against wildlife and unfair acts by both the public and authorities.

Everyone who speaks in support of human-bear coexistence must also monitor their language. It is easy for terms that are used often by the COS, WildSafeBC, and the media to pop into our conversations, such as saying ‘destruction’ for killed, “it” for he/she/they, and ‘conflict’ for encounter. Even among our own advocates, ongoing education is needed.

We must do better and we will do better!

We need to learn to call out systemic racism against wildlife – especially predator species, but we also have to be smart about how we do this.

Barbara Murray