Serendipity is good luck in finding valuable things unintentionally. . . examples of serendipity have an important characteristic: they were made by individuals able to “see bridges where others saw holes” and connect events creatively, based on the perception of a significant link,” Wikipedia.org
One day, while searching the internet, I came across The White Spirit Bear, a rare subspecies that live in an ancient rainforest in Canada. They are not polar bears. They are a magical subspecies of black bears that are rarely seen and rarely heard about. This intrigued me so I searched farther and came across a book called White Spirit Bear by Grandma Tess.
Grandma Tess, according to the introduction of her book, lived by the philosophies of peace, caring and sharing. She spent much of her time in the Arctic and Alaska. She adopted numerous animals from the SPCA and at the age of fifty she sold her possessions, bought a motorhome and “hit the road.” She and her Rainbow Ambassadors hoped to build awareness of living in unity and harmony with our planet and all its creatures.
Her book, White Bear Spirit Bear tells the beautiful and photographic story of these bears, who have lived peacefully for centuries, rarely interacting with humans. Legend tells that a Raven once went among the black bears and promised that every tenth bear cup would be born white. The Raven wanted a reminder of the time the world was pure and clean. The Raven also promised the White Spirit Bear a life of peace.
The more I read about the White Spirit Bear, the more I wanted to reach out to Grandma Tess. I felt a kindred spirit in this amazing woman who loved animals and loved children and drove around the countryside in a 1973 fuchsia, purple and turquois home on wheels. She was who I could be in a parallel universe, one where I could throw away my fears and dedicate myself to that which is truly important, kids, animals and always the underdog.
I wanted to get her permission to sort of “co-brand” my White Bear with her Spirit Bears. Could we collaborate and provide White Bear with a family history? Could the White Spirit bear, who stands out as an icon for a rare and endangered ecosystem have given life to White Bear, who stands out as an ambassador for children living with rare diseases and chronic and terminal illnesses?
It did seem like there was an unseen force bringing my little stuffed animal White Bear to a new place in the universe.
So I set out to get in touch with Grandma Tess, who I learned was named Tess Brousseau. Sadly, my email was never sent. Tess Brousseau passed away in 2013. But that didn’t stop me from thinking about the White Spirit Bears and our White Bear. They do seem to be kindred spirits.
For a long time, environmentalists and logging companies battled over the forest that the White Spirit Bear (Kermode bear) and other species call home, a conflict known as “The War in the Woods.” In the 1990s, local environmentalists called for an international boycott of their province’s forest products, circulating pictures of charismatic Kermode bears juxtaposed with images of clear-cut mountains.
“The international pressure helped tremendously,” said Merran Smith, of Forest Ethics. By 1999, loggers were sitting down with environmentalists, and British Columbia officials were talking with the Gitga’at and other coastal First Nations, which had long revered the bear. In 2006, the group announced the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, which created a core conservancy of 4.4 million acres that included nearly 500,000 acres of Kermode habitat closed to logging, mining and hunting. The White Spirit Bear played a significant role in achieving these historic agreements.
We are confident that our White Bear will also be able to make the world a better place.
Today, most children never have to see the inside of a hospital for themselves or visit with someone who has to go through chemotherapy, dialysis or organ transplant. But there are children that know the hospital as their second home. These are the kids who face the unthinkable and yet teach us that the world is a beautiful place, filled with hope and love, a message too easily forgotten. They know, and so does White Bear who wants to be their voice and their confidant.
White Bear will be featured in a series of books written about and for kids who are chronically, seriously or terminally ill. He will be there to ask and answer questions that sick children and their siblings can relate to and make sure they never feel alone. He knows that sometimes it is really hard to be different, but with differences comes rewards we can’t even imagine. Coincidentally, he lives with a mixed-race family, much like White Spirit Bears, the cubs of Black Bears.
We may never get to travel the country in an amazing multicolor mobile home spreading love and kindness to a very special population of kids, but we are starting our journey on the Internet, where we have the ability to reach those who also can’t come to us. We know you are out there and we know you are living a life very few understand, but White Bear does understand. We hope you get to meet him and find your own White Bear to keep with you when you need him most. Live while we can, love while we can, isn’t that the most important thing?