About Us


Ecosystem-based and community driven.

The Spirit Bear Research Foundation is committed to applied conservation research. What we call a ‘bear-salmon-human’ system serves as our flagship project.

While bears are at the centre of our current research projects, we are also interested in the salmon and humans that complete these interrelationships, as well as the entire ecosystem they support, which in turn supports them. We view this holistic approach to applied research as a strategy to benefit ecosystems, conservation economies, cultures, and future generations.


Our Vision

  • To advance locally relevant scientific knowledge of grizzly, black, and Spirit Bear populations, and the ecosystem that supports these populations, in Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation Territory.
  • To support and assist with the development of local scientific monitoring capacity within the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation.
  • To incorporate perspectives, knowledge, and priorities from the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation into the development and implementation of our scientific programs.

Broader Context

Our work is fundamentally situated in a larger ecological and cultural context

Spirit Bear Research Foundation was founded in 2011 to undertake ecological research questions that our community of Klemtu was interested in addressing to inform the management of Kitasoo/Xai’xais Territory. We use cutting edge methods to answer these research questions in a scientifically rigorous manner. However, although certainly an important component to our work, our contributions neither revolve around, nor cease with, peer-reviewed publications. The research we do is fundamentally situated in a larger ecological and cultural context. Our broader and primary responsibility is assisting our local leaders in bringing newly discovered insight into on-the-ground conservation efforts and contemporary policy debate.

Our ancestors have been stewards of our Territory since time immemorial. This Territory makes up part of the vast tract of coastal temperate rainforest in British Columbia that has become known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Furthermore, our stewardship responsibilities extend beyond our lands to include the rich Pacific Ocean waters that surround the archipelago of islands within our Territory. As we continue to take care of the complex ecosystem that surrounds us, the ecosystem, in turn, takes care of us.

We believe the unique collaboration between our Nation and researchers from University of Victoria and beyond offers reciprocal opportunities; to support the capacity of our research partners and the scientific capacity within our community.


We aren’t alone.

We share data and work with other researchers and Nations.

Although our research questions are community-driven and locally relevant, we share ideas and data with an interconnected and increasingly large network of bear research that is now being conducted throughout the Great Bear Rainforest. Communities in neighbouring Nations along the central coast are undertaking similar research, using the same study design and commitment to non-invasive sampling methods. All partner with researchers from the Applied Conservation Science lab at the University of Victoria. Through these partnerships, we know that we are using valuable time and resources in the most effective and efficient ways. At the foundation of these relationships is trust.