The PBI House on a snowy day.

Photo: Kieran McIver

Polar Bears International House



05 Nov 2019

CHURCHILL, CANADA (November 5, 2019) - Snow swirled outside and polar bears roamed on the nearby tundra as Polar Bears International held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 3rd for our new interpretive center in Churchill, Canada, the polar bear capital of the world. Built on Kelsey Boulevard, the main street in town, Polar Bears International House was made possible by a lead gift of $1 million from the Dani Reiss Family Foundation, as well as contributions from other generous donors. The goal of Polar Bears International House is to educate visitors about polar bears and the Arctic sea ice they depend on. 

In attendance at the official house-opening event was PBI ambassador and spokesperson Kate Upton, below, along with Churchill Mayor Mike Spence, notable contributors, scientific advisors, and community partners.

Kate Upton with a Tundra Buggy in the background

Photo: Daniel J. Cox

Polar Bears International ambassador Kate Upton joined a celebration for the grand opening of the Polar Bears International House, which included an excursion on a Tundra Buggy to view polar bears in the wild and learn more about Polar Bears International’s conservation efforts.

"The Polar Bears International House will play an important role in conserving polar bears," said Krista Wright, Executive Director of PBI. "Churchill is where it all began for PBI, and the town has long been the launch pad for our outreach efforts, including our Tundra Connections educational webcasts and the Polar Bear, Beluga, and Northern Lights Cams--which collectively reached more than 9.8 million people last year. The new center, with its in-house broadcast capabilities and lodging for scientists, will allow us to do even more.

"So far, more than a thousand visitors have passed through the house and we've received heartening feedback on the hope and inspiration it provides," she added. "The center lets people learn about polar bears, polar bear research, and the role each of us plays in polar bear conservation. In addition, it provides new tools, such as  interpretive displays and a climate-action pledge wall, to strengthen and amplify our outreach messaging—all with a goal of ensuring the polar bear's future."

Mike Spence, mayor of Churchill, praised the centre during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "We congratulate Polar Bears International on the grand opening of their new PBI House and welcome their long term investment in Churchill. Together, with partners like Polar Bears International and the broader scientific community, Churchill will continue to lead the way in sustainable growth," he said.

Designed by Blouin-Orzes, a Montreal-based architecture firm, the Polar Bears International House is attractive, energy-efficient, and multi-purpose in design and scope. The house features a cutting-edge interpretive center on the first floor and accommodations for visiting researchers above. The house will act as a hub for critical conservation efforts to protect polar bears and the sea ice they call home. The house will function in a multitude of ways, including:

  • A space to educate Churchill visitors about polar bears and the urgent need to take action on the climate crisis

  • A hub of visually engaging interpretation of polar bear research, with elements including an interactive "fasting wall" that helps visitors understand the impacts of longer ice-free season on polar bears

  • Broadcast venues for media crews and PBI broadcasts

  • A home to inspire people to care about the Arctic and its wildlife by featuring live cams that highlight polar bears, beluga whales, and the northern lights

  • A space to host visiting scientists, educators, and special guests whose outreach work and support are critical to polar bear conservation

  • A gathering place for members of the Churchill community

"What affects polar bears, affects us all. I've been proud to support Polar Bears International and the important work they do for more than a decade. With the opening of the Polar Bears International House, not only will PBI's important research, advocacy and education be able to reach so many more people around the world, but they've also created a beautiful home for their team and the community of Churchill," said Dani Reiss, President & CEO of Canada Goose and a member of the Polar Bears International Board.

Polar Bears International House is located on donated land on Churchill’s main street, Kelsey Boulevard. It will be open as an interpretive center during polar bear, beluga whale, and northern lights seasons, and available for community events and meetings year-round.