Making the most of a great big opportunity to promote Great Bear Rainforest conservation

Posted April 1, 2021 in Environmental Conservation
Pacific Wild
Funded since 2018

Case in point: founders Karen and Ian McAllister’s first years exploring the Great Bear Rainforest led to a book that’s widely credited with sparking an international campaign to protect the area. The book helped bring widespread awareness to the clear-cutting of the precious wildlife  habitat, and contributed to the 2006 Great Bear Rainforest agreements, which protect 30% of the region’s landmass.

Again and again, Pacific Wild has proven how powerful storytelling can be for activists. So, when they had an even bigger opportunity to bring attention to the Great Bear Rainforest—an IMAX film, distributed worldwide and narrated by a beloved movie star with considerable influence—they knew they needed to take full advantage of the gigantic megaphone they’d been given, with some help from Power to Give.

The film had been a long time coming. Ian McAllister had been dreaming of making an IMAX about his favourite subject for 20 years. In 2016, he successfully secured funding, and the great big movie got a greenlight.

When the film premiered in early 2019, Pacific Wild and its First Nation partners were ready with a campaign that would help get as many eyes on Great Bear conservation as possible—like educational materials promoting the importance of conservation and special screenings for elected officials who could play a part in advocacy and policy-making. 

Karen McAllister says Power to Give’s support was instrumental in getting the most out of the IMAX opportunity. “Having a movie that’s playing in theatres around the world is a great way to start a conversation, and to build on people’s inspiration for greater understanding of our threatened coastline.  Without Power to Give’s support, we wouldn’t have been able to engage communities to the extent that we have, to have a campaign that leverages the visibility so that it’s not just a movie, it’s an opportunity to inspire action.”

Among other things, the Pacific Wild team hopes the film makes people care about the plight of the herring. Though less of a scene-stealer than the spirit bear, the Pacific herring is fed on by a wide range of the Great Bear Rainforest’s creatures and therefore critical to its biodiversity. Pacific Wild goes so far as to call it “the foundation on which the Great Bear Rainforest is built,” so protecting the #BigLittleFish is among the organization’s top priorities, along with saving BC wolves from unjustified culling and performing more rigorous and accurate salmon counts.

Power to Give’s support has indirectly helped all these efforts. “Generally, their approach to funding gives us the space and means to develop our capacity to do our work, through increased staffing and resources for campaign and communications work, improving our development and administrative infrastructure and building a better board of directors,” says Karen.