Jill Cooper – an accomplished educator – and Simon Jackson – an award-winning storyteller – have spent nearly a decade immersed in the Canadian landscape, documenting the remarkable stories of Canada’s biodiversity. Throughout their journey, they’ve travelled to small town Saskatchewan and big city Toronto and everywhere in-between to share their tales and listen to what Canadians think about the environment. Their takeaway: Nature unites us all and that by making the seemingly irrelevant relevant, it’s possible to showcase that nothing is black and white and through better education, a more thoughtful citizenry is possible – one that can create a better world for all life.
For a decade, Jill worked to create connections between technology and nature as a high school geography and media arts teacher, promoting experiential education and leading numerous excursions, including a science-focused field trip to Nicaragua.
When she found resource gaps, Jill worked to fill them – first off the side of her desk and eventually in the full-time pursuit of system-wide education resource development. Jill has advised the establishment of a school council for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and helped design of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition’s award-winning education program. And for the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity she worked to build a new multi-faceted training program that seeks to better equip teachers to execute STEAM techniques.
No matter the project, Jill’s hallmark has been an approach that strives to be fair in her research and communication: Presenting unbiased facts to ignite a passion in others to think critically, work collaboratively and demand better of themselves and our world.
For each endeavour Jill has journeyed, she has proven an understanding of how to develop innovative programming from development to curriculum integration to classroom implementation. It’s this unique insight that is at the heart of Ghost Bear’s projects.
At the age of 13, Simon founded the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition in the quest to unite the voice of young people to save Canada’s endangered white Kermode or spirit bear. Through the Youth Coalition, Simon gained the support of such high profile figures as Dr. Jane Goodall and the Backstreet Boys in the process of building the world’s largest youth-led environmental movement, a global network of more than 6 million in over 85 countries.
After two decades of work, the spirit bear is now saved, thanks to the work of diverse stakeholders coming together to establish one of the largest land protection measures in North American history.
For his efforts, Simon has received several honours, including being awarded Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, being named as one of the 100 Angels of the Earth by UNESCO and, most notably, being honoured as one of Time Magazine’s sixty Heroes for the Planet – one of only six young people selected from around the world. His life’s work was the focus of an internationally televised movie, Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story.
Simon is an accomplished motivational speaker with agency Speakers’ Spotlight and an award-winning photographer and a widely published writer. Having contributed images and chapters to eight books, he has also had hundreds of essays and opinion editorials published in newspapers, magazines, academic journals, web sites and textbooks around the world – many underpinned by his photography. Simon has served as a columnist for CBC.ca and the Huffington Post and recently co-authored the book A Geography of Hope: Saving Primary Forests. His writing led him to being named a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers.
His varied work has enabled Simon to travel coast-to-coast-to-coast to share the lessons from his journey, as his powerful story is a reminder that one person can make a difference. Indeed, Simon’s storytelling ability, combined with his extensive relationships with community leaders, is the foundation on which Ghost Bear is built.
Wildlife storytelling requires striking an imperfect balance when attempting to document unique animal behaviour that can inspire the world to better appreciate and understand nature. In the field we always attempt to embody best practices, but acknowledge that unintentional mistakes can be made and, as such, we pledge to constantly demand better of ourselves and learn with every opportunity presented. That said, each image we’ve captured depicts wild animals in wild settings and you can always know that we’ll never use techniques that will harm our subjects, even if it means a lesser story.
For more on our philosophy, please read: The Fine Line of Wildlife Photography.