3/15/2018 6:40:34 PM
At Home with the Polar Bears
Every fall, Polar Bears International staff members head to Churchill, Canada—the polar bear capital of the world. We gather for the annual polar bear trek to the Hudson Bay coast, where bears await freeze-up so they can venture back onto the sea ice in search of seals.
Our journey North has always centered around sharing this incredible story with the world. But as that tale has become more troubling, our activities in Churchill have evolved. And, this year, we’re reaching new heights with the construction of a headquarters there, the Polar Bears International House.
Over decades of visiting Churchill, PBI has seen the sea ice form later and later in an ever-warming world. We’ve come to realize that Hudson Bay bears are among the most vulnerable to climate change. So today, as we continue to share their narrative, we also issue a rallying call to the world: that we can collectively make this a story of success if we act now.
I can’t think of a better place for that success story to unfold than PBI House.
By the end of 2018, our new facility will stand in a prime location, along Churchill’s main thoroughfare, Kelsey Boulevard, on land generously donated by past PBI board member Bob Williams. PBI has always rented housing in Churchill, and we’ll continue to need that additional space. Having a home base for our growing roster of staff, guests, and gear, however, will provide much-needed support for our polar bear conservation efforts.
When designing the new PBI house, we decided to make it large enough to serve as a resource for the broader community—as an interpretive area where visitors and locals can learn about polar bears across the Arctic and as a public meeting space to foster dialogue with those who share our concern for the bears.
We’re working with local partners to make sure our plans complement their existing activities and resources. We’ll also augment some of our collective outreach by offering access to a broadcasting space within our facility.
PBI House will provide the lodging space of our existing structure along with work space for local student interns. It will also enable us to connect the community with visiting experts on a range of topics relevant to polar bear conservation and the Arctic.
“The town of Churchill is very pleased to see PBI construct their new headquarters here in Churchill," said Mayor Mike Spence. "Its central location along Kelsey Boulevard will enable visitors and residents alike to learn of the research work taking place in our unique and beautiful area. As our local economy continues to diversify, science, research, and education will continue to play a prominent role."
Prior to the conception of PBI House, we’ve hosted a continuous cycle of experts in Churchill each fall. The primary reason for their visit is to share their knowledge through our Tundra Connections® broadcasts to classrooms across the globe. The benefit of gathering these experts doesn’t stop there. I still remember interacting with our guests for the first time, as a volunteer, and I can think of no better situation where the term “meeting of the minds” would be more fitting.
My first night at a PBI dinner, I had a climate change expert on my right and a human behavior expert on my left, while the world’s leading polar bear scientists bantered across the table. Can you imagine the profound impact such conversations could have? If the person who understands the greatest climate harbingers of our time connects with someone who can help them persuade others to take action? Now that we can gather these minds under one roof, I can’t wait to learn the answer to these questions.
The capital campaign for PBI House is off to an amazing start thanks to a major gift of $1 million from board member Dani Reiss—bringing us halfway to our goal. Interested in helping to make our new home a reality? Learn how you can get involved by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org—or visit our donation page for the project.