Back on the Bigfoot beat 

click to enlarge FILE IMAGE - BIGFOOT BEAT Pique reporter Brandon Barrett on a sasquatch hunt in 2014.
  • File image
  • BIGFOOT BEAT Pique reporter Brandon Barrett on a sasquatch hunt in 2014.

Around the Pique newsroom, for all intents and purposes, I am known as the reporter on the "Bigfoot beat."

This is entirely my own doing, I should add: Since arriving on the West Coast some six years ago, I have developed a keen interest in the lore around B.C.'s most elusive resident. By my count, this is my second sasquatch-themed column in that time, in addition to a feature on Bigfoot hunters, and a podcast episode featuring an interview with a local resident who claims to have encountered the notorious cryptid.

So you can imagine my delight when news emerged this month that Golden, B.C. man and self-described "sasquatch tracker" Todd Standing has taken the provincial government to court over its supposed dereliction of duty to protect the fabled biped. In the suit, filed in October, Standing accuses the province of damaging his livelihood and credibility. If the case goes to trial (it won't), Standing promises to provide "compelling and substantial" evidence of the existence of Bigfoot, according to his lawyer, who, I must add, probably would never have predicted he'd one day have to represent a kooky sasquatch hunter back in his law-school days.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and, I guess, Mythical Beings, responded to the suit the way you might expect from such stodgy bureaucrats: by throwing a wet blanket on the whole affair. Lawyers for the province argued that the lawsuit is pointless and lacks "an air of reality."

A fair assessment, no doubt, but in a troubled time where even reality lacks an air of reality, this is the kind of silly, harmless news that I crave.

Let's face it: the never-ending deluge of soul-crushing headlines from south of the border and around the world can be exhausting to take on day after day. Even in Whistler, that outdoor playground where people go to forget their problems, much of the community conversation has taken a decidedly embittered, confrontational tone as we head towards what should prove to be a transformational municipal election in the fall.

Log on to the Whistler Summer Facebook groups these days and you're hit with wave after wave of whinging and complaining—in between the desperate pleas to recover lost phones and passports, of course.

Everyone has to have an opinion, and above all else, that opinion must be wielded as a weapon to vanquish anyone online who dares to argue. When every argument can be burnished by our respective echo chambers and followed swiftly by a "Well, actually," reality has devolved not into a plain relaying of facts, but a battleground that must be conquered at all costs.

I think that's where my fascination with the Bigfoot—or, more accurately, the people who hunt Bigfoot—comes from. In an age where the truth is often twisted for the most cynical and self-serving of reasons, it's kind of refreshing to see these wide-eyed seekers commit to their seemingly ludicrous belief in sasquatch despite the risk to their reputation and, yes, credibility.

Of course, there are Bigfoot enthusiasts out there who are just in it for themselves—and Standing might be one of them, for all I know. Certainly he's gotten more publicity from this ill-advised lawsuit than any of his numerous documentaries and sasquatch tours have garnered, but I also know there are countless people out there who are 100-per-cent convinced in Bigfoot's existence.

And, what's so wrong with that? A world where the sasquatch might exist is a world where the childlike wonder we lost as kids remains, a world where it's OK to still believe in magic. That, to me, is much better than the alternative. After all, when reality gets to be too much to handle, a healthy dose of surreality sure goes a long way.

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