Lions unveil Spirit Bears in Whistler 

Spirit Bears In The City project pairing artists with sponsors for charity

The B.C. Lions Society has chosen the Northern B.C. Kermode, or Spirit Bear, as the subject of a new public art initiative for charity, modeled after the society’s Orcas In The City project of 2003/04.

Orcas In The City paired B.C. artists with sponsoring businesses and individuals to customize standard fiberglass orca sculptures. The decorated pieces were then displayed in prominent public spaces in Vancouver and Victoria, June through October 2004.

Following the public display period, the decorated orcas were auctioned at a black tie gala event, raising $400,000 for the B.C. Lions Society Easter Seal Operations and the Canucks For Kids Fund charities.

The Spirit Bears In The City project is expanding beyond Vancouver and Victoria to include installations in Prince George, Terrace, Smithers, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Port Edward and Whistler.

The project is currently being launched across the province and seeking sponsorship to fund the customizing of the fiberglass bear sculptures, which stand approximately seven feet high. The society is also taking applications from artists who would like to participate. Once the number of bears has been determined, project organizers will pair artists with sponsors to customize the bears, which will then be displayed from May through October 2006, ending with another gala event and auction with proceeds donated to Easter Seals and Canucks for Kids.

A select number of bears will also be auctioned online.

Northern communities were included this year to pay homage to the Spirit Bear’s unique northern habitat, Lions Society and Easter Seals President Stephen Miller said. The bears are named for researcher Frances Kermode who documented the white-coated bear as a subspecies of the black bear, found only in the Skeena and Nass Valleys, in the early 1900s.

The project website – – cites First Nation legend which says the raven, their creator, made the bears white as a reminder of the time when the world was pure and clean and covered with snowdrifts and ice blue glaciers. Raven promised the bears would live in peace and harmony forever.

Miller said Spirit Bears In The City’s aim is to have artists display in their own communities. However, the project will not limit sponsors to local artists, allowing for the opportunity for B.C. artists to display outside their community.

Spirit Bears In The City will be unveiled in Whistler on Monday, May 30 at 10 a.m. at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Miller will be joined by Doug Forseth, Senior Vice President of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb and an honourary Co-Chair for Spirit Bears In The City, and Co-Chairs Ron Bauer and John Hewson.

Artists wishing to participate can apply via the project website,

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