OUT ON A LIMB: Jack Layton left us with words to live by

The passing of NDP leader Jack Layton this week is one of those events that leaves us wondering what could have been

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…The passing of NDP leader Jack Layton this week is one of those events that leaves us wondering what could have been. And by all accounts, Layton could have been a very interesting opposition leader.

His passing, however, as sad as it was, may have left Canadian politics with one of its most endearing speeches, if not a manifesto. In a final letter to Canadians, Layton reminded us that “love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

If those aren’t words to live by, I don’t know what are. Layton managed to restore a sense of civility and grace to Canadian politics, something it was sorely lacking. Hopefully, Layton’s death can inspire us all to be more loving, hopeful and optimistic.

Bears of Bute…Despite having lived here for 22 years, I had never been past the Breton Islands, east of Quadra Island.

I’m not a boater (hey, I work in the newspaper industry, I’m lucky I can afford a canoe) but I love getting out on the water any chance I can and last Saturday I got to travel to Orford Bay in Bute Inlet courtesy of the Homalco Wildlife Tours. It was a great day. The weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular.

The Homalco Band has a fantastic opportunity at Orford Bay courtesy of the salmon that return to the Orford River. Those salmon, of course, attract the big brown behemoths of the animal world, grizzly bears. Denizens of the so-called Great Bear Rainforest, the Orford grizzlies congregate at the mouth of the river and along the gravel bars of its lower reaches. The Homalco have a perfect opportunity to control human access to this grizzly bear picnic. Control the people, of course, not the bears.

The Orford River valley can only be accessed through the Homalco Band’s tribal lands. There are no roads and boats have to dock at their dock.

Exploiting this opportunity is as simple as bringing people to the river and letting them look around. Of course, through the Bears of Bute program (www.bearsofbute.com), the band is marketing this spectacular wildlife experience and they are continually developing their facilities. Saturday’s event was to open up their new orientation centre which allows visitors to learn the Homalco First Nation’s story, understand what they’ve gone through and see where they want to go. It’s a simple but well done presentation.

The mainstay of the facility, of course, is the bear viewing sites. Elevated and covered platforms are stationed at strategic viewing points and on Saturday, even though there were no bears (it’s still too early in the season) it was nice to get out there and look at the sites. It’s a beautiful place. One of the sites is at  a long gravel spit at the confluence of a large creek and the Orford River. It was easy to envision bears meandering around the gravel bar swatting salmon up onto the beach.