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An insightful collection exploring the plight, past and promise of the orca, powerful symbol of British Columbia's wild coast and apex predator of all oceans. Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in Western cultures as "killer whales", and respected and honoured by Indigenous cultures as friends, family or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own. With contributors ranging from Briony Penn to David Suzuki, Gary Geddes and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, this collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths, and ecology of orcas. A literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future.
Dr. Martha Black has been the curator of Indigenous collections at the Royal BC Museum since 1997. Dr. Lorne Hammond has been the curator of history at the Royal BC Museum since 1997. Dr. Gavin Hanke is the curator of vertebrate zoology at the Royal BC Museum. Nikki Sanchez is a Pipil/Maya and Irish/Scottish academic, Indigenous media maker, and environmental educator.
With original essays and poetry by Ken Balcomb, Adam Bell, Lawrence Bell, bill bisset, Jason Colby, Rande Cook, Gary Geddes, Jess Housty, Steve Huxter, Marianne Ignace, Valeen Jules, Mark Leiren-Young, Jack Lohman, Misty MacDuffee, Alex Morton, Briony Penn, Paul Spong, David Suzuki, Severn Cullis-Suzuki and Jared Towers; artwork by Fanny Aïshaa, Jesse Campbell, Rande Cook, Frieda Diesing, Andy Everson, Christian Geissler, James Harry, Noelle Jones, Haley Kailiehu, Eric Mazimpaka, Paul Morstad, Art Thompson, Ray Troll, Chris von Szombathy, Santiago X and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, and photography by Lance Barrett-Lennard, April Bencze, Tavish Campbell, Holly Fearnbach, Steve Huxter, Jukka Jantunen, Emma Luck, Lillie Louise Major, Adrien Mullin, Jim Ryan, Jared Towers, Kyler Vos, Matt Whelan, and Taylor Shedd.
"This book is not just recalling the history of relationship between humans and orcas but is laying the groundwork for deciding, each of us, what that relationship could look like in the future."
– Amy Reiswig, Focus on Victoria
"Its luminous, large-format pages offer everything from Haida storytelling to marine biology, all to show our too-often-ignored kinship with this astonishing animal."
– Brian Lynch, Georgia Straight
"The book, which is both a history lesson and a proposal for the future, is packed with thoughtful insights, historical perspectives and traditional First Nations stories. It also visually shines, with a wide range of beautiful artwork and photography. It's that inclusion of visual storytelling that makes this book so accessible – and a great addition to any coffee table or bookshelf."
– Vancouver Sun
"This book is the perfect blend of science, history, art, folklore and culture. Orcas are a huge part of life on the west coast of Canada and Vancouver Island. The image of the Orca is ever-present. This book is a wonderful trip into the world of these magnificent creatures and what they have meant to us over time."
– Charlotte Kinzie, Kinzie Things
"In Spirits of the Coast [...] orca experts, artists, storytellers, and Indigenous wisdom keepers issue an invitation to understand, celebrate, and come together to protect these marvelous marine mammals."
– Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews
"The authors take you on a magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life. Numerous perspectives that intertwine science, traditional knowledge and personal experiences reveal how strongly we're interconnected with these majestic, intelligent neighbours that live in the Salish Sea. The emerging picture shows how orcas are an integral part of human existence and fuels my personal and professional passion to do everything possible to help them thrive. These stories seamlessly make the reader a part of the orcas' history and fate."
– Jay Ritchlin, Director General, BC and Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation