Dear Homo Sapiens,
whose footprints now roam the crater of the Moon:
Heed the Seven Cosmic Signs of Earth.
You may not perceive them as such while living on the surface of your planet, but they are obvious to any Earth observer from beyond, or to a set of extraterrestrial Earth-observation instruments established on the Moon for millennia.
Collectively they portend an imminent, monumental and all-encompassing transformation to occur throughout your world, one leading to either planetary transcendence or global devastation.
When one cosmic sign becomes manifest, the others would almost simultaneously arise. On the planet Earth, the Seven Cosmic Signs have all arisen.
The First Cosmic Sign: For millions of years, Earth’s night side has been invisibly dark, but now, suddenly, there is light, neon light.
The Second Cosmic Sign: For millions of years, Earth’s surface has been lush and green, but now, suddenly, there is massive deforestation and rapid desertification.
The Third Cosmic Sign: For millions of years, Earth’s atmosphere has been clean and its hydrosphere clear, but now, suddenly, there is pollution.
The Fourth Cosmic Sign: Never in its 4.6-billion-year history has Earth generated a single thermal nuclear reaction, but now, suddenly, she is in danger of generating too many too soon.
The Fifth Cosmic Sign: For millions of years, the ozone layer has shielded the Biosphere from harmful solar UV radiation, but now, suddenly, it is full of holes.
The Sixth Cosmic Sign: For millions of years, as a radio source the Earth has been silent, but now, suddenly, it is inundating it’s inter-planetary and interstellar neighbourhood with its newscasts, political speeches, documentaries, commentaries, movies, soap operas, sitcoms, sports, commercials… and let’s not forget televangelical sermons which still preach that you are “the be all and end all of Creation”.
The Seventh Cosmic Sign: Earth was born of gravity, and by its own gravity its body parts have always been bound, but now, pieces of Earth – spacecraft, so called - are seen suddenly to fly away, some never to return.
Among Earth’s spacecraft are the Apollos, from whose #8 was broadcast a prayer as follows: “Give us, o God, the vision which can see thy love in the world in spite of human failure. Give us the faith, the trust, the goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts, and show us what each of us can do to set forth the coming of the day of universal peace. Amen.”
And the Pioneers 10 & 11, each carrying an identity plaque showing the position of Earth and the image of Homo Sapiens (which some humans still consider “the image of God”.)
And the Voyagers 1 & 2, each bearing an audio-visual recording of Earth sights and sounds, the latter including earthquake and thunder, bird and whale songs, human music and speech, the last being excerpted as follows:
From the President of the United States of America: “This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our image, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we can live into yours. We hope some day, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome Universe.”
From the citizens of Earth: “We send all beings of the Universe an affectionate greeting of peace and happiness. May the future grant us the opportunity of meeting.” (in Spanish) / “Greetings from our friends amongst the stars. If you can cross the barrier between Earth and sky then do it. It is our desire to meet you.” (in Arabic) / “Welcome to our world.” (in Polish) / “How are you? We are thinking about you. Come visit us some time.” (in Chinese) / “We used to believe that the Universe was created for us humans on Earth alone, but we can no longer maintain this belief. We now think that you may exist to share this Universe with us, and have the power to help solve the many problems here in our world.” (in Efic) / “Please contact.” (in Gujurati)
From the Secretary General of the United Nations: “As the Secretary General of the United Nations, an organization of 147 member states who represent almost all of the human individuals of the planet Earth, I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet. We step out of the Solar System seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet and all its inhabitants are but a small part of the immense Universe, and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.”
In short, three words: “Greeting”, “Welcome” and “Help!” And I, for one, hear them with joy and compassion. For the first, I salute you; for the second, I come to you; and for the third, I bear to you a gift of joy, of hope, of understanding and of peace.
I am Raminothna
the Fortunate and the Called Upon
at your service.
* * * * * * * * * *
(From the Journal of Anthony Marr)
June 4, 1995
June 4, 1995 - the 6th anniversary of the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre.
June 4, 1995, today, Christopher Mason is exactly one month old.
May 4, one month prior, was a doubly significant date in terms of birth. First, it is the anniversary of the birth of the pro-democracy movement in China almost a century ago. Second, my erstwhile girlfriend now platonic friend Christine gave birth to her first and perhaps only son, whom she has named Christopher, last name Mason, after herself.
Unfortunately, Christopher’s grandmother, Joan, who passed away a few months too soon, didn’t have a chance to see meet, except perhaps in spirit. Just as sad was the way she died, of what started as breast cancer, which eventually ravaged her entire body. Towards the end, it was pure unadulterated and undignified defeat and agony, for Joan of course, but also for all who loved her. Much as I dread hospitals, I went to see her every day or two, mostly to give Christine, who was there almost everyday, much needed emotional support. Most of the time Joan was so drugged she didn’t even know I was there, and in those times when she knew I was there, she was embarrassed since she was incontinent, and in fact wetted her bed a few times in my presence. And this on top of the indignity of irrepressibly crying in pain. Many times, I’ve prayed that she would have a quick and painless exit, but in the end, it was Christine’s brother Don who pleaded with the doctors to help her, and within two days, by divine or human intervention, Joan passed away. I’ve always leaned towards compassionate active euthanasia. Joan’s death decided the issue for me. I will plan my own dignified exit when my time comes, and will support whomever making this wish for themselves.
* * * * *
Chinese versus Chinese over animals
By Linda Lee
If a botanist and a zoologist were to stumble into where Anthony Marr now found himself, they would have a hard time identifying most of the items. In the glassed-in display shelves were trays upon trays and jars upon jars of dried this and that - all once alive, or parts of something once alive. Of dried mushrooms alone there were dozens of species, some as large as dinner plates. There were dried stems and roots and seeds and fruits of myriad medicinal plants, and shapeless bits and pieces of preserved animal parts. To Anthony’s trained eyes, he saw dried sea cucumbers, dried sea horses, dried lizards, snakes in wine, deer musk glands, seal penises, shark fins, swallow’s nests, thin slices of antlers still in velvet… And these were just what lay above the counter.
It was a store called Wei Hai on Pender street near Main, the one with the big yellow awning in front - one of about two dozen traditional Chinese pharmacies amidst the restaurants and groceries and curio shops and book stores of Vancouver's historical and bustling Chinatown.
Unsavory as some of the animal parts were up front, Anthony's quarry lay in the deeper recesses of the store. Here was a section where the so-called Patent Tradition Chinese Medicines were displayed. These were highly packaged items, usually pills in bottles, and bottles in glossy and brightly colored cardboard boxes.
Anthony moved slowly, with stops here and there, towards the back of the store, using his peripheral vision to monitor the three store clerks behind the counters. There were two other customers in the store, which made him less uncomfortable. As he pretended interest in a bank of trays containing different kinds and grades of ginseng, he glanced out of the store and saw the large beta-cam on a tripod aimed straight at him from across the street, and the bearded Viking of a cameraman crouching behind it, and the blonde woman reporter standing beside it with a microphone in her hand, all standing out like sore thumbs amidst the smaller, dark-haired people milling around them, looking curiously at them, then following the camera’s aim at Anthony. Fortunately, up to this point, the three store clerks have been too distracted by the customers to have noticed.
“If you can hear me, raise your hand,” Anthony murmured into the conceal mike under his lapel, and saw the reporter do just that.
This would be the third time he showed his face on television, but the first time on national TV. This should be the one to make the difference on the federal government level. He glanced at the three store clerks to see if there was any sign of recognition or suspicion, but they seemed to just be going about their business, not that they had yet taken a close look at him, which they soon would.
Anthony moved deeper towards the back of the store and began scanning as nonchalantly as possible the hundreds of different multi-colored boxes lined up row upon row, all bearing Chinese writings and pictorial designs. There were bear bile pills, crocodile bile pills, seal penis pills, dog penis pills, deer musk pills, rhino skin pills, pangolin pills, but he had no need to look much further to find what he was looking for. On one of the higher shelves sat a large collection of boxes, about ten assortments in total, all bearing different renditions of the same majestic animal, and all sporting the beautiful Chinese character in various calligraphic styles, pronounced in Mandarin as “hu”, and in Cantonese as “fu” - tiger.
He reached up and took down a few different boxes and began checking the ingredients lists printed on their backs. Most listed about a dozen ingredients each, all by their Latin and Chinese names, mostly medicinal plants which seemed to vary from brand to brand. But the one thing in common was the Latin name “Ossis Tigris” - tiger bone. Its listed concentrations ranged from 6% to 24% from brand to brand. Price - $8 for the box with 6%, and $22 for the one listing 24%.
He was looking at the boxes, mostly green or amber, but what he was seeing was red. Over the years, he'd been watching TV wildlife documentaries by the score, often in Caucasian company. Whenever the subject matter was the tiger or rhino or elephant or bear, especially the tiger, the concluding messages were usually one and the same, that these magnificent beasts were going down due largely to the Oriental, largely Chinese, use of their body parts for medicine. His sentiments at those times were disgust, outrage, embarrassment and shame. At those times, he could feel his Caucasian friends trying very hard not to look at him, not to say anything remotely anti-Chinese, when he knew that each and every one of them, like him, were about to explode. And the harder they tried, the worse it made him feel.
Finally, at the end of a National Geographic program about tigers in 1994, he said to those present, “Look at me. Am I not Chinese? Spit it out.”
After still another few long seconds of uncomfortable silence, his friend Grant finally abided, “All right, no offence to you personally, Tony, but this Chinese tradition is obscene! It doesn’t heal me of anything; it just makes me sick!” A significant pause. “Well? Does this make you feel better?”
“You racist pig!” mock-fumed Anthony. Then, seriously, “Yeah, man, that’s better. Yes, it is obscene. So how do we stop it?”
“You answered your own question before you posed it,” said Grant. “I’m a Whitey, see? I don't want to be branded a racist, which I know I will if I as much as lifted a finger, especially the middle one.”
Then, almost inexorably, all eyes fell on Anthony, and stayed there. After looking at them one by one in turn, he returned his gaze to Grant and said, “Okay, Grant, you have a point there, but keep it in your pants. Serious, I do agree with you. It does take a Chinese person to do it, as it should, and you’re looking at him.”
One of the clerks moved towards him and said, in Cantonese, “Can I help you with something?”
It is a woman in her 30s, who now was looking point blank at his face, thin smile unwavering.
“Yes, maybe,” he answered, in Cantonese as fluent as hers. “I'm from Hong Kong and am looking for some tiger bone medicine for my father, and a bear gall bladder for my mother. I see you have some tiger bone medicines here, but do you have any bear gall bladders?”
The woman looked at once nervous, her smile evaporated and her eyes shifted involuntarily to the back of the store before fixing themselves on his face again. “Just a moment,” she said, then slipped through a door in the back wall.
Anthony returned to looking at the tiger bone medicines in his hands, but he sensed a sudden tenseness that had overtaken the two remaining clerks behind the counters. Now they were unabashedly scrutinizing him, and still, there was no sign of recognition.
Momentarily, the door squeaked open and a large man emerged, followed by the woman. He was of about the same height as Anthony's 5’ 9” – medium tall for a Chinese - but twice in girth.
“I can outrun him for sure, and can probably kick faster, but I'd better not engage him in a wrestling match,” Anthony thought.
Since the man was facing the front of the store, he was in line of sight of the TV beta-cam and the reporter across the street, but his attention was concentrated on Anthony, who took a quick step towards the back and took down another box of tiger bone medicine, thus effectively turning the man and the woman away from the front.
“So, you want to buy a bear gall bladder?” The man said while looking Anthony up and down.
To counteract the proverbial Oriental inscrutability of his opponent, Anthony invoked a poker face of his own. “Maybe more than one, depending on the price,” he said steadily.
“What's your name?”
“Just call me Mr. Lee,” he says without a blink.
“Where're you from, Mr. Lee?”
“How long here for?”
“About three years.”
“Where did you get your gall bladders from before?”
“It's illegal to take the gall bladder in BC. Legal in Quebec, but not here.”
“So it's illegal,” said Anthony with a shrug. “It's also illegal to buy or sell them.”
“So why do you stop hunting?”
“Who says I have? It’s just too much work. Too messy. And lately, too much heat.”
“What do you mean ‘too much heat’?”
“Too much talk about gall bladders. People are getting upset.” He shifted on his feet to a new stance. “Look. Are you doing business or are we just going to stand and talk all day?”
“Show me your driver's license.”
“What are you? Some kind of traffic cop? No. I don't carry my driver's license around when I shop for bear gall bladders. I’m sure you understand.”
The man frowned. “Where do you live? I'll deliver the bladders to you.”
“Not so fast. How much are they?”
“One grand and up.”
“Let's see them.”
The man hesitates a moment, then brought out two fig shaped objects from his pocket, black, rock hard, one about the size of a thumb, the other that of a small pear. “One grand and five grand.”
Anthony reached for the larger one, but the man closed his fingers around it. “Uh, uh, not so fast. Show your cash first.”
“Where's it from?” Anthony tried another tack.
“A bear gall bladder is a bear gall bladder is a bear gall bladder.”
“How do I know it’s a bear gall bladder and not a cow gall bladder or pig gall bladder?”
“When I say it is, it is.”
“How about selling me a small piece of it, so I could do a DNA test on it. If it proves real, I might buy a few.”
“Don’t know no DNA test. No go. The whole thing or nothing.”
“Look, even if it is a real bear gall, it could be from a local Black bear, or a Grizzly bear, or an Asiatic Black bear, and prices vary accordingly.”
“Four grand. Take it or leave it.”
“I'll have to think about it.”
“If you buy ten or more, I'll give you a good deal.”
“Three grand each, same size.”
“Not good enough.”
“You name your price. I'll say yes or no.”
“I'll buy this one for two thousand. Bottom line. After that, I'll talk volume.”
“No. If you change your mind, come back. Meanwhile, excuse me. I'm busy.”
“Fine. I don't have enough cash on me anyway. I'll just buy these tiger medicines for now.”
“As you wish.” And with that, the man disappeared again through the door.
Anthony sorted through the boxes in his hand, selected half a dozen different brands and put the rest back on the shelf. He paid for them at the counter, exited the store and j-walks across the busy street straight at the beta-cam. Pulling one of the boxes from the bag, he brought it right up to the lens.
“So, Anthony, tell me what you bought,” asked the reporter, sticking her own mike in his face.
“Well, I bought, right off the shelf, six different kinds of Chinese patent medicines containing or purporting to contain tiger bone as an ingredient. This one I'm showing you,” he said, while rotating the box in front of the camera so that the ingredients list now faced the lens, “lists 24% tiger bone by weight.”
He noticed a few pedestrians stopping in their tracks to gawk at him and what he had in his hands, and tried to ignore them. “Did you get any shots of the bear gall bladder, by the way?” he asked.
“We sure did,” boomed the beaming cameraman, “and your whole conversation with the store owner, every word of it. Of course, I haven’t got the foggiest idea what you said.”
“So, what did you talk about?” asked the reporter.
“Basically, they have bear gall bladders for sale under the counter, origin undisclosed. They want at least four thousand dollars for a big one, less by the dozen.” Having been on TV before, he had learned to give sound bites, not long discourses.
“So, what is the legal status of bear gall bladders?”
“The legal status of bear gall bladders,” he began, having also learned to repeat the question before answering it, “depends on the country or province you're in. All the Asiatic bear species are endangered and importation of their body-parts is internationally banned. In Canada, the law varies from province to province. In British Columbia and Manitoba, bear gall bladders, even those taken from Canadian bears, are illegal to possess and to sell. In Ontario, they are illegal to sell, but legal to possess. In Quebec, they are legal both to possess and to sell.”
“Does this pose a problem?”
“It poses a big problem. Poached bear galls in BC, for example, can be laundered in Quebec. They'll even issue you a number and tag for each gall for selling and exporting purposes.”
“What is the penalty for violations in BC?”
“The penalty for violations in BC is unreasonably light. Maximum $10,000, and/or 6 months in prison. The Korean man recently convicted of possessing 88 bear gall bladders and four times as many bear paws for sale-purposes was fined $3,500 and no jail time. This is less than the street value of the one single gall I showed you today, and he had 88. It is considered just the cost of doing business, and a very low risk business at that.”
By now, a large crowd had gathered around the trio and their imposing machine. Anthony took a glance around and was shocked to see the store owner standing right behind the cameraman, glaring daggers at him. He felt a small but definite shove in the small of his back. He glances back at the reporter and sees no special alarm on her face about whoever was standing behind him.
“And what about these tiger bone medicines. Are they legal?”
“Tiger bone medicines are internationally illegal. Canada does not allow them to be imported, but currently allows them to be sold openly on Canadian store selves.”
“This makes no sense.”
“Can you explain that?”
“The world organization called Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species - CITES for short - classifies various species on their conservation status. CITES- I means endangered, CITES-II means threatened. Any time a species is classified CITES-I, they cannot be internationally traded, in whole or part, dead or alive. But then of course they can be and are smuggled, and the control of whatever smuggled into a certain country depends on the internal laws of that country. In Canada, case in point, there is no such internal law in effect. So, essentially, you cannot import these tiger bone medicines, but if you are smart enough to smuggle them in, you could openly sell them, which is what I'm in the process of demonstrating.”
He stole another glance at the store-owner again. If looks could kill...
“What is your message to the government?”
“I have two messages to the government. One, that all provinces should make possessing and selling bear gall bladders illegal, and the fines of violation should at least be increased to match the street value of the goods seized. Two, that the selling of endangered species items should be banned throughout Canada, and the penalty for smuggling and selling violations should be high enough to be a deterrent.”
“Can you think of anything to add?”
“Yes. Tigers and some Asian bears are within one decade of extinction, and our North American bears are not far behind. There is no time to wait. Immediate action is required.”
“Well, that's great. Thank you, Mr. Marr.” The reporter extended her hand and Anthony shook it.
Turning to the cameraman, the reporter says, “Let's go and interview the store owner.”
“He's right here,” said Anthony without hesitation, pointing at the man.
The cameraman needed no prompting and rotated the beta-cam towards the store-owner, and the reporter turned towards him without a break in her stride. “So, how many bear gall bladders do you sell a month, sir?” She pointed her mike at him like an accusing finger.
The man’s inscrutability slipped. After a hesitation, he brought up his hand to block the camera lens, and, glaring at Anthony with renewed venom, he hissed a single line in Cantonese before dashing into a nearest alley, “You are a dead man.”
* * * * *
Thanksgiving day, and I do have much to give thanks for. Let me ask: Would I let just anybody drive my car? Absolutely not. Have I let anyone drive my car? Yes, but only those very few whom I trust implicitly where driving my car is concerned – James and Jeanine. That’s it. Now consider this. Here is this tiny little baby called Christopher, so much much much more delicate and vulnerable and precious than any Ferrari or Roll Royce in any showroom and yet, Christine lets me hold him, play with him, take him out by myself, whenever I wish. And there is an extra honor, considering that sometimes she does not grant the privilege to even Charles, Christopher’s biological father.
Extra or not, the honor is earned. Christine herself observes how gentle and kind I always am to the baby. Sometimes, when I sit on the sofa, I would place Christopher on his back length-wise in my pressed-together thighs. This way, he could look up smiling at me and I could look at him and sing him his favourite songs. Christine finds this endearing. Charles is good with Christopher too – but only when he is sober, which unfortunately is few and far between - no more than two days in any given week. Christine told me that once she found Charles having left the baby carriage out in the street unattended while getting some booze. Not wanting to doubt Christine, I still find this unbelievable, but if true, it is absolutely unacceptable, and Charles indeed cannot be trusted in regards to Christopher.
Christopher, who won my heart the first time I set eyes upon him, was a 5-lb, premature, purple-colored little thing in an oxygen tent. Now, at age 6 months, he is a lively and pink though still tiny baby. In these few months of his gracing this world, he has won my eternal devotion. No mean feat, considering that I am still single and therefore demonstrably “unable to commit” myself “to anyone”, as Christine once said about me. I’d say that he started life as a winner. And I will do all I can to help keep it that way.
Up to this point, I’ve been seeing him regularly about three times a week, three to four hours each time. At this rate, I will have seen him more than 500 times or 1500 to 2000 hours by his fourth birthday. Now that’s a lot of time to give to someone, and time always seems to be my most precious commodity, even if I had a billion dollars. But for Christopher, I’m more than willing, especially in view of the fact that he wouldn’t be getting a lot from his father.
I will do anything within my power and capacity to help give Christopher as good a head start in life as possible. Henceforth, everything I do will first and foremost be for his best interest. I will protect him from harm even if I have to stand in harm’s way myself. I will help give him guidance and teach him all that I know. I will be his devoted and trustworthy “Uncle Tony.” I will make all necessary sacrifices for him, up to and including my life.
James (my friend James Taft) is astonished at the intensity of my emotion for Christopher. For one thing, since Christopher was born, I have spent much less social time with James. Not just James, but other friends. I am myself astonished, not only by the intensity of my love for Christopher, but also its purity and selflessness. For all these years, decades, of falling in and out of love, I have never come anywhere close to this. Certainly not with Christine even in the best of times. Nor even with Jane, my first love and greatest love, whom I was more than ready to marry, until her parents broke us apart.
Just yesterday, James said to me, “Purity and selflessness? If I didn’t know you so well, I’d think you rather self-aggrandizing.” The context of the conversation was my not having spent much time in male-bonding activities of late, so he was sounding a little thorny. But that’s the way James and I talk anyway. Blunt and to the point. No bullshit.
Still I was taken aback. “I wasn’t referring to myself. How could that be self-aggrandizement?”
“If not, what were you referring to?” asked James, quite sincerely.
“I was referring to the love that I’m experiencing with Christopher, a love that I am myself amazed by. If God is love, then all I was saying was that God is great. If that is aggrandizement, it would not be on my part.”
“Still, it seems somewhat overstated.”
“You’ve never loved a child, have you?”
“Nope. Can’t say that I have.”
“Then how do you know that the love for a child is not pure and selfless?”
“Well, I love Stacy. Are you saying that my love for her is less pure and less selfless than your love for Christopher?”
“I don’t know how you love Stacy. But I know how I loved Jane, and compared even to that, my love for Christopher still reigns supreme. It’s not even in the same league. With Jane, it was an intense need, including sexual need, and certainly emotional need, intermixed with an intense caring. With Christopher, it is an intense and selfless caring, pure and simple. I don’t have the same kind of need to be physically close to Christopher as I did with Jane. When I go on a tour, as long as I know he’s healthy and happy, I’m happy. But if I still had Jane, I would miss her intensely, especially on the physical level. Still, my seeing Christopher I cannot deny is a great pleasure and reassurance, the pleasure of seeing him grow and learn, and the assurance and reassurance that I’m doing him good with every passing day. I don’t know how else to put it.”
“Let’s use an extreme example,” said James, who thrives on such heated discussions. “Say, Christopher’s house is on fire and he is trapped upstairs in his bedroom. Would you go in there to save him?”
“Yes, I would.” I said it before I even thought about it. This is partly because I have thought of similar scenarios a few times before.
“Even if you would get burnt?”
“Even so, as long as I see that there is a chance, I would take it.”
“And if there is no chance?”
“That’s an insufferable thought, James. But if you’re asking me if I’m suicidal, I’m not. The thought of him burning to death all by himself is excruciating. Would I go in there just to die with him so his death would be less lonely? This is the only uncertainty. But at least I thought of it. I don’t know. Only the moment of truth, should there be one, would tell. All I know is that if there is a chance of saving him, there is no way I would not take it, and this is a certainty.”
“Words are cheap.”
“I hope this would never be put to the test.”
“And you consider this a selfless act?” Vintage James.
“Yes and no.” Still vintage James.
“In a way, maybe even ultimately, you would have done it for yourself,”
“How’s that?” But I knew the answer even as I asked the question. “Well, you have a point. I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t.”
“But I’ll grant you, that your love for Christopher is purer than mine for Stacy. Hold your fire. Yeah, of course there is the sex factor. But there is something else.”
“I had a moment of naked honesty with myself. I rank my score lower than yours in the burning house hypothetical test. For one thing, the thought of going into the house just so that she didn’t have to die alone never crossed my mind. You win.”
“All I know is - I have never said anything in greater seriousness and dedication than this.”
“But still, why do you feel this way?” pursues bulldog James. “Sure, you find him cute. I find him cute myself, but obviously I don’t feel the same way about him as you do. So, what makes the difference? The only difference I see is that you are a friend of Christine and I’m not.”
“No, I don’t think that’s it.”
“But Christopher is not your own child. Why are you treating him as if he’s your own son? It comes across as almost bizarre. I’m not saying there is anything wrong or pathological here, but it’s so unusual.”
“Do you have to own someone to love someone?” I said, a little testy myself. “As soon as I understand it, you will be the first to know.”
“You do that.”
“Well, one component of it could be the bonding process. There is no doubting the incredibly strong bond between Christopher and me. Now where did this bond come from? I remember seeing this guy on TV in his ultra light with a dozen or so Canada geese strung out behind him in a V formation. He got them to do that by being there when the goose eggs were hatching. The goslings bonded with him because he was the first thing they saw. Now, I was there on the day Christopher was born, and have been there religiously three times a week or more. I can explain that perhaps he became bonded to me rather than to his father. Maybe every child has the potential to be bonded with one man and one woman, who usually are the biological parents. But in the case of Christopher, it could be Christine and me, and may be on my end, I’m spiritually and emotionally responding to this bond.”
“Maybe there is something to it. Maybe bonding is a two way street.”
“There is also the factor of Christopher’s father being an alcoholic. My mind tells me that Christopher is very vulnerable and deprived and needs a father figure and a male role model. But the love is a matter of the heart. My mind may be searching furiously for an explanation, but my heart is happy, content and at peace.”
As I said so, I felt so.
* * * * *
1995-11-22-3 The Vancouver Courier by Kerry Gold
[China-born environmentalist says many Chinese immigrants too urbanized to care about wildlife conservation]
…While his current campaign focus is the illegal trade in bear and tiger parts, he says he’ll get involved in any environmental issue…
1995-12-02-6 The Vancouver Sun by Nicholas Read
[Animal parts for sale, and it’s legal]
… “The Chinese awareness is really not there,” Marr says. “Maybe the only person you saw in Chinatown today who knows or cares about the plight of the tiger was me.”…
1995-12-06-3 Ming Pao Daily (Chinese), Vancouver by Eric Chan
[Ma Seeu Sung spreads environmentalism into Chinese community]
…’If we don’t change our ways and drive the tiger to extinction, our reputation will be forever mud,’ says Ma Seeu Sung…”
1995-12 Sing Tao Daily (Chinese), Vancouver by H.N. Kwok
[Anthony Marr takes pay-cut to save environment]
…When asked why he made this change, he said simply, “I just find my present work more meaningful.”…
1995-12-18 Chinatown News by Wanda Chow
[Chinese environmentalist campaigning to change centuries-old tradition]
… Perhaps because Marr is a Chinese person willing to speak out… he has had plenty of media attention. The public’s reaction? One Maple Grove school teacher recently said, “For years I’ve been waiting for someone like him to step forward.”
* * * * * * * * * *
January 1, 1996
I don’t usually need to make new year’s resolutions, but this year, I have to make one.
Having made my June 4 vow to Christopher in writing – to protect him from harm – I am now faced with my first test.
A big dilemma. What if I see what Christine is doing is harmful to him?
“Just tell her,” said Diana. Yeah, right. But she doesn’t know Christine the way I do.
I’m talking about her smoking, and Charles’. It is not that she doesn’t know about the harmful effect of second-hand smoke, especially on the tiny lungs of an infant. And it is not for want of trying. She just can’t quit. Days are stretching into weeks, and now into months. She’s been talking about quitting since Day 1, but she is still puffing away. The thought doesn’t even seem to have crossed Charles’ mind. I’m afraid that I’m going have to do something on Christopher’s behalf, and knowing Christine, it’s going to be hell to pay, now or perhaps years down the road, but she will one way or another, one year or the next, exact it. But for Christopher, did I not also write that I would willingly stand in harm’s way?
Second, Charles. He often shows up at Christine’s door drunk. Christine’s way of dealing with him is to send him away, with his van key in his hand. His van is near new, but it is already covered with dents. I’m also going to have to talk to Christine about this. It’s a matter of public safety. What if he drives away and kills a child like Christopher? Again, Christine wouldn’t like to hear it, not from me anyway. I can hope that her women friends would say it. She would take to their counsel much more kindly, but they haven’t and wouldn’t. It was in fact their collective view that Charles be sent away when drunk. One way or the other, it would be passing the buck on my part. I also don’t feel right discussing Christine behind her back. So, again, it’ll be up to me, and again, there will be unpleasant consequences.
But why should she feel so hostile towards me for asking her to quit smoking for her son’s sake, especially when she can so self-righteously slap ultimatum upon ultimatum on Charles to quit drinking? At least Charles’ drinking would not impact directly on Christopher’s health the way their smoking would and does. But that’s Christine. I’ve put up with her for more than two decades, but now I find myself at a cross roads regarding my behavior with Christine. I am going to have to stop putting up with certain things about her – those that I deem harmful to Christopher. I still believe that somewhere beneath her thorny exterior is a golden heart, but this heart must embrace the wellbeing of Christopher in its entirety, and not selectively according to habits and addictions.
* * * * *
1996-01-08-1 Times Colonist, Victoria by Malcolm Curtis
[Tiger, tiger, put it right]
… “If major endangered species of the world – bear, elephant, tiger, rhino – go extinct as a result of Chinese demand for their body parts, I would consider it a capital crime against nature, and the Chinese would be forever convicted,” Marr said in an interview…
1996-01-21 The Vancouver Courier by Kerry Gold
[Chinese activist fearless]
… “My response is, I’ve got to be accountable first and foremost to myself, and I’m not going to compromise myself (by worrying) about offending certain people,” said Anthony Marr…
1996-01-28 The Vancouver Courier by Mrs. V. Kennedy
[Animal torture justifies anger]
To the editor: Your article on Anthony Marr was an eye-opener. Now I realize why those who struggle for the ethical treatment of animals are so vehemently angry…
1996-04-09 Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese, global) by Eric Chan
[Federal wildlife trade law soon in force]
…Ma Seeu Sung hopes the new wildlife trade regulations will significantly empower Canadian law against the international illegal endangered species trade…
1996-04-10 The Vancouver Echo by Mike Bell
[Asian community takes on animal parts trade]
It will take more than a little gall to stop the massive Chinese trade in animal parts, but Anthony Marr has a feeling deep in his heart that he’s the one who can make a difference…
1996-04-10 Associated Press
[Poaching surges for bear parts]
… “Given a choice between a bottle of synthetic UDCA (Urso-Deoxycholic Acid) and a real bear gall bladder, an old-timer will choose the latter every time; it’s half medicine and half mystique. It’s hard to fight superstition with a test tube,’ says Marr…
… “If the Chinese really want to be modern, on par with the West, we have to do a lot of soul searching,” he said…
1996-04-12 Sing Tao Daily, (Chinese, global)
[Grizzly-bear-poaching penalty increased to $25,000 max]
…Anthony Marr says that the new penalty, though raised, is still too lenient. For a criminal who trades in millions of dollars, a penalty of $25,000 is “less than GST”…
1996-04-14 The Richmond News by Nevil Judd
[Anti-poaching activist disappointed with response from local schools]
… “(Richmond is) the epicentre of Chinese activity,” said Marr… “Certainly, the demand side of the equation rests squarely on the shoulders of Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures…”…
1996-04 Vancouver Magazine by Shawn Blore
[Loaded for bear]
… “Canada’s laws could use an aphrodisiac,” says Marr. “Where fighting endangered species trade is concerned, it is more or less impotent.”…
* * * * *
May 4, 1996
Christopher’s first birthday. He has grown and developed beautifully. Many wonderful, memorable moments.
Once, when he was still crawling on his elbows and knees, he was near the front door when a Harley-Davidson went roaring by, frightening him. At once, he scrambled over to me and wrapped his arms around my leg. This simple act melted my very core. I picked him up and he held onto me tightly. I didn’t know there was so much strength in him. Just writing about this slice of life that lasted all of one minute brought tears to my eyes.
Another time, when I was making ready to go home, I tip-toed into his bedroom to give him a loving look good night – I love to see him sleep, the epitome of heavenly peace. This time, however, he was still awake, and as soon as he saw me, he pulled himself on to his feet by the bars of his crib. Then he raised his arms up to me. Again, this simple act on the part of the child moved me to the core, or should I say from my core. I picked him up and held him and patted him gently on his back, and he laid his head on my shoulder. This was more of a religious experience than when I was baptized. At that moment, Christine came in and chided me for disturbing his sleep.
Charles’ drinking went unabated, more heavily than before. His liquor of choice is vodka. His place, a basement suite five minute’s drive from Christine’s, is littered with empty bottles. Christine often finds empty vodka bottles under her sofa and other such places, at times several in different places. In any given week, his life would be a mixture of pain, abusiveness, self-pity and oblivion. And with every passing week, he emerges to see himself falling a little farther behind in his failing welding supply business, and in life in general. And upon seeing this landscape of waste and ruin, he drinks again into the temporary unawareness. It’s become blatantly obvious to me that he cannot help himself. I want to help him, at least initially to get him out of his deep well and place him back on terra firma. But Christine is of another mind. She said that whatever need be done, Charles must do it himself. Perhaps she wants to see what he is ultimately made of, even if it means his self-destruction. At least then Charles’ true nature would be revealed, in poor light of course. Quit alcohol or get lost, or drop dead for that matter. It’s not that he doesn’t know her terms, nor that he doesn’t want to see Christine and Christopher, but to him, Christine’s harshness is yet another load on his already overburdened back. Perhaps indeed he is too weak for her. But I can’t see him drown in booze without throwing him a lifeline. And I need Christine’s cooperation to pull him back to shore, which she has so far refused.
Christine sets an iron rule for herself that she will not take any abuse from anybody. But she seems to have no remorse for the abuse she periodically deals out to me. For peace I’ll take it. For Christopher I won’t, if at stake is his wellbeing.
* * * * *
1996-05-07 The Vancouver Sun by Nicholas Read
[Help our Grizzlies; stop hunting them]
… Anthony Marr says…all sport hunting should be abolished…
1996-05-08 Ming Pao Daily News, Vancouver by Eric Chan
[Chinese Canadian launching province-wide anti-bear-hunting referendum]
… Marr considers killing of bears for entertainment or profit a “barbaric practice”.
1996-05-15 The Vancouver Sun by Brian Morton
[Bear hunt wish not on list of foundation in Canada]
… The local chapter of Canada’s Make-A-Wish Foundation has been swamped with calls protesting against a 17-year-old Minnesota boy’s being granted a wish by Make-A-Wish-America to hunt a Kodiak bear… Anthony Marr, who is leading a WCWC campaign against bear hunting, said Make-A-Wish-Canada should try to persuade international chapters to ban hunting requests.
1996-05-16 The Province, Vancouver by Charlie Anderson
[Canvassers out to stop bear hunts]
…Anthony Marr said…, “It’s going to require a massive effort, and we are counting on friends in other environmental groups to help out.”…
1996-06-05 The Westerly News, Tofino, BC
[Referendum road tour aims to stop bear hunting]
… “We are convinced that if something is not done now, the bears in BC will go the same way as the elephant’s and tiger’s and rhino’s paths towards extinction. It would be only a matter of time,” said Marr. “The subject of this road tour is to halt this downward spiral.”…
1996-06-07 The Vancouver Sun
[Laws to curb wildlife trade]
Ottawa - Environment Minister Sergio Marchi has brought in stiff new regulations to curb the illegal trade in wildlife and plants. The regulation provides fines of up to $300,000 and jail terms of up to five years…Under previous legislation, it was illegal to import tiger parts into Canada, but once smuggled into the country such parts could be sold openly.
1996-06-08 Nanaimo Daily Free Press by Paul Walton
[Wildlife group campaigns for referendum to ban bear hunting]
… Marr believes that when poaching is included, about 10% of all bears in BC are killed annually… (he) said that the purpose of this wildlife road tour is to set up the infrastructure for a referendum vote on banning bear hunting in BC…
1996-06-12 Alberni Valley Times
[Wilderness group brings bear campaign to Port Alberni]
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is on the road to protect bears. The Bear Referendum Road Tour 1996 will be in Port Alberni on Thursday, June 13… at the Friendship centre…
* * * * *
June 14, 1996, Friday, mostly sunny
[12:02 @ local activists and hosts Annette and Scott Tanner’s residence in Qualicum Bay, Vancouver Island, BC]
Just ten days on the road, and I already miss Christopher badly, and vice versa I’m told. Another six weeks to go. When Christine told Christopher about this 8-week road tour, he cried. She said that my going away and not seeing him for two whole months would be traumatic for him. I reassured him that I will think about him and call him every day, and bring back a present to him upon my return. Finally, he hugged me, and smiled. Of course I make good my promise of calling him daily. This is an effortless endeavour, since it is impossible for me not to think about calling him at least ten times a day.
The night of the dreaded Big Confrontation in Port Alberni has come to pass, and it lived up to expectations and more. And it is only one day in the first week of the province-wide, 8-week, 12,000-km, 45-city Ban-Bear-Hunting-in-BC Referendum Initiative road tour. Just a few days ago, in the town hall meeting in Campbell River, a hunter pointed at my nose and said, “I saw you on TV this morning. The price on your head just went up $10,000.”
Before leaving the Tanner’s (my host the Qualicum Beach) to drive to Port Alberni yesterday afternoon, I asked Erica (my assistant) one last time if she would much rather stay behind than come with me. This is an “Option 3” situation – an overt meeting in hostile territory – the first two being an overt meeting in friendly territory and a covert meeting in hostile territory. The meeting is well pre-publicized in the Alberni Times, and heavy hunter turn-out is more than likely. Why the pre-publicizing? I think it might be just a self-dare from which I could not back down. And I do think that some heat will generate a high profile newspaper article. A statistical increase in danger is the price to pay. I don’t know if I can be classified as an adrenaline junkie, but I sense more excitement than fear prior to the engagement. In lieu of fear, there was a degree of apprehension. There were the few hecklers in previous meeting, but they were in the minority. This time might be a whole new ball game. I had never faced a room full of hostile hunters before, and had no idea how I would perform. On top of this, I did not want to have to worry about Erica’s safety as well as mine. But she said a firm “No” without hesitation, one even firmer than those before. I respect her for that.
What transpired in Port Alberni was a horrific free for all, the “all” being the 65 hunters in an audience of about 70, all crammed into a room meant for no more than 30, equipped with just that many chairs. Standing room only - wall-to-wall hunters, with both entrances blocked. It was 30oC outside, and ten degrees warmer in the room sweltering with body heat and smelling of sweat, beginning with mine. The red hot verbal exchange only added fuel to the fire inside the oven. We couldn’t escape if we wanted to. Of the five or six supporters, at least two or three were so intimidated that they slipped away unnoticed, leaving my local host Maureen Sager and two or three other women and just one man to hold the bag.
The hunter group included two or three local hunting-guide-outfitters and a conservation officer who was openly chummy with the hunters. About two-thirds were men and one-third were women, the latter attired from T-shirts and jeans to business suits and high heels, but all with hints of blood lust in their eyes, especially as they unflinchingly stared in my direction. No doubt, however subconsciously, they were feeling that trembling excitement as they sighted their quarry through their rifle-scopes. Was there an extra-kick for them to have all sixty-five weapons trained on the same prey?
Their verbal barrage began right in the middle of the very first slide in the slideshow, and right in the middle of my first sentence. Thereafter, I estimate, of every ten sentences I attempted in my presentation, I could finish maybe two without interruption.
Maureen, an active woman in her 60s, did her best to keep order, but was totally ignored, and at times assaulted by such threats as, “This guy flies in and out, but you have to live here. So watch what you’re doing, lady!”
Another jeered, “Not only is this guy from out of town, he is from out of the country, for God’s sake, and he has the gall to barge in here and tell us what we can and can’t do in our own backyard!”
An older man bellowed, “All Chinese immigrants should be charged $100,000 for the damage done to the Canadian culture, starting with this guy right here, right now!”
Yet another shouted above the din, “Us western hunters have been conserving wildlife since before you were born, in China!”
About a third through my slideshow, I found myself turning off the projector and saying, “Fine. If you want a debate, we’ll have a debate.” Strangely, this somehow pacified the proceedings a little bit, since the word “debate” invoked in ones mind the terms “order” and “rules of engagement”, and if then they spoke out of turn, they’d be interrupting one another instead of me.
Basically, their message to us, obviously predetermined among themselves, was “Scrap your campaign, or else.” The milder ones were thoughtful enough to say, “Change your campaign to strictly anti-poaching but pro-hunting, and we’ll support you, or else.”
If the men’s assaults were bad, like punching in the gut, some of the women’s were worse, like pinching your sensitive zones with needle-nose pliers. One woman in her thirties, seemingly having come to the meeting right after having dragged a dead bear into town, said with a killer glare, “What you’re trying to do is to deprive my children of a great heritage that their forefathers created and God condoned, and their father and his mother now enjoy!”
Another, also in her thirties, deceptively genteel-looking, said with a sly smirk, “If you don’t play the game, honey, you don’t make the rules.”
Through the first hour, Erica sat on the sideline. Finally, she couldn’t contain herself any longer, and stood to make a point. Before she could finish her sentence, as was now the norm, another older man shouted, “Young lady, you are not old enough to teach me anything. Sit down!”
I pointed at the “honey” woman and said, “I’ve been listening to this young lady for the last hour. It’s about time you listen to this young lady here for a change. Go ahead, Erica.”
Strangely, the man acquiesced, and stranger still, the smirk of the “honey” woman changed into a sweet smile, if only for the moment.
In contrast to the physical heat that I felt hard to endure, I found myself handling them in a surprisingly relaxed state, with a steely coldness in my core, matching wits with them point by point without losing my cool, and in fact enjoying certain moments when I made a clean score.
Another hunter hollered, “Who gives you the authority to do what you’re doing?”
“What do you think of the Chinese tradition of using bear gall bladders for medicine?” I asked him as if he hadn’t spoken.
“I think that’s obscene.”
“Should it be banned?”
“Damn right, it should be banned! And it is banned, by the law, and by God, not by some freelance environmentalist.”
“I agree with you on this, sir, but I think for a trophy hunter to kill the most magnificent creature he, or she could find,” glancing meaningfully at the “honey” woman, “so that he or she could have a climactic moment and its head to hang on his or her wall afterwards is equally obscene, and it, too, should be banned, unless, like you, I have a double standard.”
“Since you obviously don’t understand this, darling,” rejoined the “honey” woman, “I’ll tell you that trophy hunting does not exist in this province. We pack out all the meat. We waste nothing.”
“You pack out the meat because you are required by law to do it. And this law, in case you’re not aware, was due not to the hunters, but due to your despised Bear Watch, which dumped a skinned bear carcass they found in the bush on to the front steps of the legislature. Before this law, the bear head and hide are all most bear hunters pack out. Just yesterday, I heard a hunter complain about having to pack out grizzly bear meat, which he then just dumped.”
“I eat the meat of everything I kill.”
“Then may I suggest that you leave the head and hide, and the antlers, behind, since they are of no nutritional value.”
The man next to her shouted, “How dare you insult our women, right here in our town?!”
“Only for as long as they keep on killing our wildlife, right here in our country.”
At another point, when one of them was talking about “ethical hunters”, I responded with, “If there are ethical hunters, there must be unethical hunters, then?” I couldn’t resist exaggeratedly sweeping the room with my eyes. Some dropped theirs involuntarily.
After an awkward moment of silence on their part, I asked them point blank whether they had never deliberately broken any rule, never taken anything on the side, never left any kills unreported, never left any meat behind, never exceeded their bag limits, never wounded any animal that got away. “If you have never done any of these, raise your hand,” I challenged them. Every hand came up without exception – eventually, involving unmistakable hesitations in many. Later, Maureen commented that I had very skillfully made the hunters obey my command. “It wasn’t by design. It just worked out that way,” I said truthfully. In retrospect, I can see that anything else I ask a show of hand for would be disrespectfully ignored.
At another point, another hunter repeated, “We are the original and true conservationists of wildlife. You guys are just long-haired, welfare-collecting social parasites, using us to raise funds with.”
“If it is so easy to raise funds, even using you, the social parasites wouldn’t need to be on welfare, would they? Back to your first question, I know that true conservationists conserve wildlife for its own sake and for the health of the planet, and false conservationists conserve only so that they will continue to have something beautiful to kill. Which kind of conservationist are you?”
I saw some fists clenching, and some blue veins bulging on red necks, but I’ve gone too far to back down.
“This guy’s front is to attack the Grizzly bear hunt,” said another hunter, except this time he is addressing his cohorts, “but in fact, it is an attack on the entire hunting tradition, establishment and fraternity, from the top down, and from the foundation up. His real agenda is to stop all hunting, of all species. Mark my word.”
“For once, you might be right,” I said. “Killing animals for entertainment is barbaric and morally bankrupt, no matter what you kill.”
“Are you calling us ‘barbarians’? You Chinese people are very good with that, I hear.”
“My apologies on behalf of the Chinese people, historically speaking. But no, I did not call you a ‘barbarian’, although I do call your so called ‘sport’ ‘barbaric’, and I mean it.”
A woman spoke up, “We don’t kill for entertainment. Hunting is a noble sport. It is not killing. It is communing with nature.”
“Hunting is not killing? Tell it to the bear, and the deer, and the moose. Well, they might consider you not a hunter, but a terrorist, if that makes you feel better. As for entertainment or not entertainment, maybe you should take a look at your hunting regs, ma’am. The term for your ‘communing with nature’ is ‘Recreational Hunting’. So, fine, you don’t kill for entertainment, but you kill for recreation. Big difference.”
Take it easy, Anthony. Don’t piss them off too much.
It has became clear to me that it would be futile for us to try to convert even one of them. Our job here is to rally the already converted into a coherent fighting force. But in terms of this evening’s meeting being a work session, it was unproductive and even counter-productive. The few supporters who showed up either disappeared or were too intimidated to sign up, at least in the presence of the hunters.
But hardly all is lost. The important thing is that a reporter from the Alberni Times was present, and from the readers of her article may emerge a certain number of volunteers who did not attend the meeting, although I would think that those few who did attend would be the most gung-ho of them all. Partly because of the presence of the journalist, the hunters at least maintained a sense of restraint, but only in terms of physical violence, at least for as long as the reporter was around. They seemed determined to give her something dramatic to report about their nature without resorting to fists or, God forbid, guns, and I think they did an admirable job in that.
The meeting did not end until the hunters had spent their fury. Still, they left the room in a huff, with lethal parting-glares aplenty. Unexpectedly, the “honey woman” came to me and said quietly, “You have guts. I’ll give you that much.”
While packing and cleaning up with our hosts, one of the few women echoed “honey woman” unknowingly, except that her word was “brave”. Maureen said in front of the others, “Anthony, now I have full confidence that you can talk your way out of hell itself.”
Well, debating is one thing. Putting the pedal to the metal is another. While loading my car, I noticed a truck parked in the shadows on the same side of the street about half a block back, engine and lights off, but with two people inside. It was too dark to tell its color, maybe brown. I didn’t lead Erica’s attention to it. As I drove off, it did the same. I made one or two random turns and the truck followed suit, staying about half a block behind. I looked for a police car but couldn’t find any. I looked for the police station and had no idea where it was. I reminded myself that when several Bear Watch women were surrounded and harassed by hunters in Campbell River a few weeks back, the police supposedly did not respond to their call for help. Finally, I took the plunge and got on to the highway due east towards the Tanners’ at Qualicum Beach, as we had intended to. The truck did too. I could identify it because its right headlight was brighter than its left, and its right parking light was out. I stayed within 10 km/h of the speed limit, and the truck observed the two-second rule, for the time being. Still too close to town; give it ten k or so, I thought.
Erica and I talked for a bit, and she surprised me by saying that she could sympathize with the hunters’ viewpoint, and that maybe we should re-examine our anti-hunting stance. I thought I heard bits and pieces of this talk yesterday at the Tanners’ when she was talking to the reporter. She admitted that she had been thinking along those lines since almost Day 1. She said that if we dropped anti-hunting and just went for anti-poaching, namely to press for a ten-fold increase in penalties, we would get the support of environmentalists and hunters alike, and that we would have a resounding success. She even went as far as to say that she might start her own anti-poaching referendum if WCWC rejected her idea. She acquitted herself by saying that her first concern was the bears, and that if we won the anti-poaching referendum, lots of bears would be saved, whereas if we stayed our course against legal hunting as well as poaching, we would set up the hunters against us and would surely fail and end up with nothing, and that even if we could succeed, we would force many legal hunters to become poachers. So, she lost it, at least the original and central principle of the campaign. There suddenly seemed a wall between the driver’s and passenger’s seats.
I listened to her with one ear, and kept an eye on the rear view mirror. Erica reclined her seat and soon fell asleep. The lights in the rear-view mirror drew closer. I increased my speed. The truck did the same. I slowed down to see if it would pass. It drew even closer but did not pass. If it tried, I wouldn’t have let it anyway, not wanting to be blocked; being able to see its license plate number probably wouldn’t do much good under those circumstances. I sped up again, and the truck did likewise, and pulled closer to my bumper the farther we left the town behind. Before long, it didn’t even bother to keep up a pretense and began tailgating. Was this just intimidation? Or was it a real attempt to push me off the highway? I was not about to put the latter to the test. I’ve been tailgated a thousand times by road rage loonies before, but never quite this tightly, and by a cold-blooded killer.
I thought again about my options. I had already left the first one behind, not having used the cell phone while in town to call the police. I tried the cell phone now, but we were already outside any service area. I thought about doing a U-turn back to Port Alberni for the police, but the truck had come too close for me to do that safely. Only one thing left to do. I had to out-run it. My car is sporty, low-slung, aerodynamic, light and nimble, and quite powerful. Best of all, with its sport suspension and wide tires, it has a .86g lateral-g-force tolerance, whereas that of a truck’s is less than .70g, which means that my car can take a corner much faster than the truck without losing traction or rolling over. The twisty highway, with narrow soft-looking shoulders and hemmed in by thick forest on both sides, and barely moon-lit, threw itself left and right, and up and down, constantly. This sounds forbidding, but I deemed it advantageous to my car over the truck. So I floored it and took the curves near the limit. The truck, probably with a big V8, could probably gain on the straights, but on this highway, its headlights receded, farther and farther until they finally disappeared behind a curve. Did I leave them in the dust? Or in the ditch? I smiled at the thought, but kept the speed up. I tried the cell phone again. Still no service, which strangely was comforting in that neither could the pursuers call somebody up ahead to intercept me. Unless some of their buddies called from Port Alberni, which seemed unlikely. Erica slept through the whole thing. When she woke up, she complained that I was driving too fast. By then, the glow of Qualicum was on the horizon. I kept the chase to myself, even from the Tanners. On the other hand, the hunter probably blasted it throughout his community that he ran me not only out of town, but right back where I came from, with my tail between my legs.
* * * * *
June 14, 1996, Fri. Alberni Valley Times by Diane Morrison
Bear hunters confront bare-faced petition to put them into permanent hibernation
Bears, whether Black, Brown, Grizzly or Polar, are not endangered species in North America. Anthony Marr wants to keep it that way.
The campaigner for Western Canada Wilderness Committee was in Port Alberni Thursday night with his effort to ban sport and trophy hunting of Grizzly and Black bears.
It was a very hard sell to the audience of about 70 dominated by hunters and hunting guides that packed into a into small, hot room at the Friendship Centre, made even hotter by the temper flaring up from wall to wall.
The hunters say they are the endangered species. They wanted the distinction between legal hunting and poaching to be clearly recognized. “Go ask the bears, to see if they can,” said Marr. He also said that some hunters and guides make this impossible, because they are themselves poachers.
Marr believes that, with both legal hunting, poaching and conservation officer kills, about 8% of the Grizzly bear population and more than 10% of the Black bear population are being killed each year. He said the province’s Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy clearly states that the species can sustain no more than a 4% annual mortality before going into decline, and even this, according to Marr, is too high.
Members of the audience disputed Marr’s numbers saying that, on Vancouver Island at least, the Black bear population has been increasing by 15% for the last 10 years. Marr countered that the Black bear populations on southern Vancouver Island, and some in Mid-Island, have been decimated in various locales, citing the Cowichan Lake area as an example, and challenged the hunters to produce written documentation to support their claim, which they did not.
A number of people asked why Marr’s main thrust was to shut down legal hunting when the problem is poaching. Marr replied that both in combination is the problem, and that he has another sub-campaign targeting poachers and traffickers of bear parts. A Chinese Canadian, Marr has taken on both Canadian hunters and the Chinese demand for the body parts of these animals.
After about an hour of cross firing, WCWC campaign assistant Erica Denison finally stood up and said that until poaching can be brought under control, they want to buy time for the bears to recover. One of the hunters pointed at her and said, “Young lady, you are not old enough to teach us anything. Sit down!” Marr pointed at a middle-aged woman in the audience who had been quite outspoken in favour of hunting, saying, “I’ve been listening to this young lady for the last hour. Erica, please continue.”
Marr needs to get hunters on his side, the woman said, not slam them, because hunters also want to stop poaching.
Some audience members said it is organizations such as WCWC, advertising the fact that bear parts are worth so much on the black market, that is increasing poaching. Marr scoffed at this as an “ostrich attitude”.
They objected to being told that they can’t legally hunt bears, but bears that get into garbage and smash bee hives can be killed for being a nuisance. Marr said, “The bears you kill are not nuisance bears, and that killing nuisance bears is not your job.”
When shown a picture of a bear shut in a small cage with a tube leading out from its gall bladder to extract bile, one man said that countries that treat animals like that are not democratic and so they have no conscience. Marr countered that lots of capitalists have no conscience either.
Another man was convinced that if WCWC is successful in shutting down bear hunting, it will try to shut down all hunting. Marr said, “If another hunted species becomes threatened or endangered, I would champion its cause as well.”
Back to poaching, Marr said that when an animal such as the tiger and the rhino is declared endangered, the demand and price, and so the poaching, skyrocket, hastening its slide into oblivion. “It is a very vicious cycle, and the purpose of this campaign is to try to keep our own bears out of it.” . . .
* * * * *
1996-06-15 The News, Parksville/Qualicum by Chris Beacom
[Bear Referendum meeting Friday]
… Anthony Marr and (campaign assistant) Erica Denison are visiting every town in the province to drum up support for a petition urging the government to hold a referendum on outlawing bear hunting… “We’ve had tremendous support on the island so far,” Marr said, adding that 10% of all registered voters must sign the petition for a referendum to be held.
1996-06-18 Nanaimo Times by Kim Goldberg
[Easy to bag – Let’s vote on bear hunting]
… In the biggest and boldest campaign of its ecophilic history, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee has launched a referendum initiative which, if successful, could ban all sport and trophy hunting of bears in BC…
1996-06-18 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Malcolm Curtis
[Crusader wants everyone to vote on the future of bear-hunting]
… “It’s going to be difficult up north and in places like the Chilcotin, but in the urban areas we see no problem,” Marr said Monday… An Angus Reid poll last year showed that 78% of British Columbians oppose sport and trophy hunting of bears… Marr will give a presentation at the University of Victoria on Thursday night at the Begbie Building, Room 159, starting at 7 p.m.. Admission is free.
1996-06-20 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Malcolm Curtis
[Bear hunters shoot back]
Bear hunters are in a growlly mood over an environmental group’s bid to force a public vote on their sport… “That’s just garbage,” Saanich hunter Terry Anderson said Wednesday, responding to a Times Colonist report about Marr’s referendum drive. “Your newspaper did not do justice to the cause of ethical hunters.”…Marr, meanwhile, is holding a meeting tonight at U.Vic.’s Begbie Building, Room 159, to promote his campaign.
1996-06-22 The News, Parksville, BC by Chris Beacom
[Crusade to end bear hunting hits Qualicum Beach]
The system. Difficult to change and more frustrating even to try. Anthony Marr is finding out first-hand how far the provincial government needs to be pushed before change ensues… At the meeting the Chinese-born Marr was questioned by bear hunters for not cracking down on illegal Asian poaching instead of focusing on legal hunting… (Campaign assistant) Erica Dennis expects battles ahead, especially in towns like Williams Lake. “They already know we’re coming. They have a front page headline saying ‘Bear hunting isn’t wrong”, and a hunter there just got killed by a bear near town. It could be tough,’ she said… Anyone interested in helping out with the cause can contact the WCWC at 1-800-661-WILD.
1996-07-03 The Northern Sentinel, Prince Rupert, BC by Mary Vallis
[Bear hunt ban call]
… “It is perverted for people to kill for fun,” Marr maintained, “particularly if adults take their kids and teach them to kill.”…
1996-07-03 The Daily News, Prince Rupert, BC by Heather Colpitts
[Bear petition circulated]
… “More than two decades ago, India banned tiger hunting and Kenya outlawed lion hunting. We have a moral obligation to lead the world, not straggle behind other countries,” said Marr…
1996-07-05 The Prince George Citizen by Gordon Hoekstra
[Fur flies at meeting to ban bear hunts]
It was barely civil and sometimes downright ugly. In the end, it took a representative of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee close to two hours to deliver a plea for help to ban bear hunting in BC. Anthony Marr was interrupted, shouted down, and generally abused by hunters in an audience of more than 100 that spilled out of the conference room at the Civic Centre Thursday evening…Marr had barely begun…before he was attacked…
1996-07-09 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Michelle Young
[Activist pleads for bear-hunt ban]
With calm and respect, Anthony Marr faced rapid-fire questioning from hunters and threw back a plea for them to stop hunting bears…
1996-07-09 Echo/Pioneer, Chetwynd, BC by Rick Davison
[WCWC wants bear hunting banned]
It will be a tough fight, particularly in these parts, but Anthony Marr of the WCWC is determined to stop the killing of bears in BC… His stand won him the admiration of some and the scorn of others…
1996-07-10 Kamloops This Week by Michelle Daubney
[Environmentalists and hunters lock horns]
… Marr likened letting hunters manage wildlife to “giving our babies to a known child abuser”…
1996-07-10 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Robert Koopmans
[Bear ban sets bad precedent]
The thought of dead bears in the bush, minus their gallbladders and paws, makes me cringe. But there’s something in Anthony Marr’s message that ripples my spine just as much… / It’s not the specifics of Marr’s anti-bear-hunting speech that are troubling, but what his campaign represents. Marr is the thin edge of a bigger wedge, an axe aimed at the heart of sport hunting in general…
1996-07-11 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Mel Rothenburger
[Culture greatest threat to wildlife]
Culture and the environment seem to be coming into conflict a lot lately… (Culture) can be a tremendous barrier to positive change… Earlier this week Anthony Marr spoke to a few dozen people in Kamloops… / The prime reason is culture… Marr, who grew up in Hong Kong, understands the culture behind the insatiable appetite for rare animal parts, but devotes his life to fighting it… Lest Canadians get a little pious about the atrocities against wildlife committed in the name of culture in other countries, they should pay close attention to what’s happening in their own backyard…
1996-07-13 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Mel Rothenburger
[Impossible to get issue to a vote]
Nobody ever promised democracy would be easy. Anthony Marr is learning all about that in Canada… Aside from the cogency of his argument, what struck me most about his objective is the near-impossibility of success. The hurdles are staggering… Marr and WCWC simply won’t be able to get it to a provincial vote…
1996-07-13 The Globe and Mail, Ontario
[Bid to end bear hunting to proceed]
The WCWC has cleared another hurdle in its bid to end sport and trophy hunting of bears in BC. Chief Electoral Officer Robert Patterson has announced… that approval in principle has been given to the group’s initiative petition. The 90-day Initiative Petition period is set to begin September 9…
1996-07-16 Elk Valley Miner
[Group seeks to ban all BC bear hunting]
… “…Although BC’s bears are not yet considered endangered, at today’s rate of hunting, poaching and habitat loss, they soon will be. We must exercise some foresight and keep them from this terrible fate,” says Marr…
1996-07-16 The Times, Terrace, BC by Jennifer Lang
[A vote for the bears]
… Marr says BC’s wildlife protection laws and policies haven’t caught up with a new phenomenon… commercial poaching… He says there aren’t enough conservation officers in BC to stop poaching, but he believes a hunting ban would make poachers easier to spot…
1996-07-18 The Vancouver Sun
[Grin and bear it]
… Paul George, an executive director of the WCWC, in his role as private citizen, has launched an initiative for An Act to Prohibit the Hunting of Bears… Mr. George’s worthy petition would have an uphill battle under the best of circumstances, especially in many rural areas. BC’s absurd initiative legislation dooms it – and any other imaginable challenge to the legislature’s monopoly.
1996-07-24 Capital News, Kelowna, BC by Jean Russell
[WCWC loaded for bear – Petition drive launched]
… about 15 prohunters turned out at the meeting in Kelowna on Friday. / Don Guild, secretary-treasurer of the Okanagan branch of WCWC, said Monday the hunting supporters made it difficult to make progress. “They tried to dispute (Marr’s) figures before he even gave them…”
1996-07-24 The Morning Sun, Parksville, BC by Valerie Baker
[Taking aim at the trade in illegal bear parts]
… “During the next 60 days, we are scrambling to get as many official canvassers as we can,” says Paul George, WCWC Founding Director… Anthony Marr is currently on an eight-week provincial tour garnering support… Since his presentation in Qualicum Beach on June 17, around 30 local people have volunteered to be canvassers…
1996-07-31 The Morning Sun, Parksville, BC by Valerie Baker
[Taking aim on the illegal trade in bear parts]
Editor’s note: As many of you noticed – judging by your phone calls – our computer managed to muck up last week’s story on the initiative… Here then is the way the story was supposed to read…
1996-07-31 The Salmon Arm Observer by Gordon Priestman
[Seeks local support for bear referendum]
Anthony Marr brought his one-man crusade to Salmon Arm Thursday night… In what seems close to Mission Impossible, Marr has been touring the province since the beginning of June, hold at least one meeting a day and often more, seven days a week… Along the way he’s run into a lot of opposition from organized hunter groups but that doesn’t deter Marr… Marr believes in what he’s doing…
1996-08 Sing Tao Weekend Magazine (Chinese), global
[When the bear hunt season opens, whose cry will be the loudest?]
… WCWC campaign director Anthony Marr spent June and July visiting over 40 cities and towns to publicize the initiative… He was interviewed by newspapers more than 150 times, and by TV and radio more than a dozen times. Along his route, he also signed up more than 1,500 volunteers…
1996-08 EcoNews, Victoria, BC by Guy Dauncy
[BC referendum to stop bear killing for trophy and sport]
This coming September, WCWC will be launching a 90 day campaign to collect signatures from 10% of the registered voters in every constituency in BC… WCWC is looking for 50 canvassers in each of BC’s 75 electoral districts, to collect signatures. To be a canvasser, you must be a registered BC voter, have lived in BC for the last 6 months, and must witness each signature collected. If you want to be a canvasser, call…
1996-08-01week The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Eleanor Kohnert
[Save the bears]
Editors: Anthony Marr from the WCWC is not alone… Organizations and an ever-growing number of individuals are supporting his endeavour. However, a huge hunting guiding and gun lobby will use all the firepower in their possession to defeat the proposal… Even if WCWC’s efforts… fail… the issue will be moved into the political arena… The concession to First Nations of allowing Grizzly bears to be killed for ceremonial purposes (however) is ludicrous…
1996-08-01week The Georgia Straight, Vancouver, BC by Charlie Smith
[Hunters target Marr]
During a recent province-wide tour, WCWC wildlife campaigner Anthony Marr discovered how difficult it will be to achieve a ban on bear hunting… In public meetings to promote holding a vote on the issue, he was usually hounded by dozens of angry hunters who tried to intimidate him… Marr will speak about this issue on Thursday (August 8) at the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium at 7:30 p.m.- and he expects to see angry hunters in the audience. “I’m beginning to enjoy confronting them,” he chuckled.
1996-08-02 The Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn
[Activist angers hunters with campaign to outlaw bear hunt through referendum]
Anthony Marr is on almost every hunter’s hit list for his efforts to get bear hunting banned in BC… Marr has just completed a seven-week-tour of more than 50 BC communities… It hasn’t been easy for Marr, who has been dogged by hunters equally determined to kill his campaign before it gets off the ground… ‘I know some gung fu, but I can take on only one unarmed hunter at a time,’ he says with a smile…
“Deep down inside, it's a moral issue,” says Marr, who estimates that at least 90 per cent of hunters shoot bears for the trophy and that 65 per cent actually come from urban areas.
“It's immoral to kill for entertainment. And abominable that adult teach their children to kill for fun.”...
The BC Wildlife Federation has set aside $40,000 so far to counter the environmentalists. The hunter lobby will place ads, and attempt to shadow petition canvassers as they make their way door to door...
Realizing that hunters would probably lose a referendum on bear hunting, the Federation knows it must stop the environmentalists now. The hunters will concentrate their efforts in pro-hunting interior communities and leave the urban areas alone.
“The hunters' message is that poaching is not out of control, that bear populations can support hunting and that hunting is a valid way for wildlife officials to manage populations.
“Even if all the logic is on our side, it is hard to counter emotion,” Federation President John Holdstock) said.
Saying that hunters legally kill 4,000 Black bears and 350 Grizzlies a year in BC, Marr argues that the hunting ban will help protect BC bears from inevitable onslaught of poaching to meet the rising Asian herbal-medicine trade in gall bladders.
To that end, Marr is waging a simultaneous campaign to educate the Chinese community.
“We have a moral obligation to lead the world,” he said. "I feel it will get much worse before, and if, it gets better.”...
Marr... was born in China in 1944 and fled to Hong Kong with his family during the Communist revolution in 1949. He moved to Canada in 1965, first to Winnipeg and then to Vancouver, eventually receiving his bachelor of science degree from the University of BC.
He... worked as a geophysicist in the northern wilderness for mineral exploration companies - 'that's when I became bonded with nature' - before joining WCWC as a campaigner last year...
1996-08-08 The Valley Voice, New Denver, BC
[Bear Protection Act campaign gets under way]
Anthony Marr, lead campaigner for the WCWC, has received approval for $75,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for his tiger conservation work…
1996-08-09 Pique Newsmagazine, Whistler, BC by David Gowman
[Letter to the Editor]
… The extreme positions taken by environmentalists such as Anthony Marr are telling us all to wake up and smell the coffee before the pot boils over…
1996-08-17 The Vancouver Sun, [Westcoast People] by Mia Stainsby
[Caught at cultural crossroads – Chinese-Canadian environmentalist upsets some Asians and Caucasians alike as he fights against the use of animal parts as Chinese medicines, among other traditions]
Anthony Marr, the man who's threatening to take all the fun out of bear hunting... is in a show down with hunters, who aren't taking too kindly to his quest... The winding path that brought him to this juncture appeared before him unexpectedly.
In truth, Marr would rather be with his “baby”, a book over 800 pages long, called [The Fortunate and Called Upon], which he began writing in 1978.
“So, what is he doing in conflict over bear hunting, after spending decades writing about cosmic harmony? On a recent tour of 40 BC interior communities, he faced roomsful of angry hunters and has a fistful of press clippings about the dust-ups. On the other hand, he also found supporters in these communities.
Being Chinese-Canadian has almost everything to do with Marr's environmental activism. The more he heard about the Chinese use of animal parts, especially parts from animals on the endangered species list, the more he felt compelled to speak up.
“Something's got to be done about this,” he said to his (mostly Caucasian) friends. “And I think a Chinese person should do it. And I think you're looking at him.” That was three and a half years ago...
“I was going to finish my book last year, but all of a sudden my time was usurped. Saving endangered species. It was more urgent, but the book, whenever it comes out, will remain the central core of my achievement.”
Love may have something to do with Marr's critical take on Chinese culture. “My first true love was a Chinese woman, but her family forced her to break up with me or suffer the pain of being disowned,” he recalls. “That is a fate worse than death for a Chinese girl, and so she acquiesced. Her parents felt our two families’ social positions didn't match. That was in 1967, and I became very disenchanted with the Chinese culture because of it. I've never dated a Chinese woman since,” he said.
The Chinese reaction to Marr is mixed. At schools, where he gives talks on the Asian use of animals, he gets enthusiastic support from students (many of whom being of Chinese descent).
… “When I’m on Chinese radio talk shows, two of the most common questions are: “Why are you trying to blacken the Chinese reputation?” and “What is more important, humans or animals?”
“My answer is that, on the contrary, I'm trying to save the Chinese reputation from eternal damnation, because if we carry on the way we have and drive some of the species to extinction, then our reputation will be forever mud, and we can never regain respect in the eyes of the world. I tell them that I'm working for human beings too. What kind of world are we passing on to our kids?”...
1996-09-09 The Province, Vancouver, BC by John Bermingham
[Bear-hunt opponents seek referendum]
… “The deadliest enemy is not the hunters, but the apathy of the ‘silent majority’,” said Marr…
1996-09-09 The Globe and Mail, national by Craig McInnes
[All in favour of saving bear, vote yes – BC tests referendum law]
… the critics say the hurdles set by the law render hollow the promise that people will be able to take matters into their own hands if politicians refuse to act as citizens believe they should…
1996-09-10 The Province, Vancouver, BC by John Colbourn
[Poaching won’t be tolerated – Ramsey]
… “I respect the people who have brought this (petition) forwards,” said (Environment Minister Paul) Ramsey. “Whether or not banning hunting is a part of preserving the bear population is something the public is going to have to decide.”…
1996-09-10 Sing Tao Daily (Chinese), international
[Anti-bear hunt petition launched]
… Ma Seeu Sung urges the Chinese community to stand up and speak out…
1996-09-10 Ming Pao (Chinese), international
[Battle for the bear commences]
… Hunter Med Crotteau rebukes Ma’s campaign as being insulting to the Chinese community…
1996-09-17 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Michelle Young
[Bear crusader says pro-hunting side well organized]
An anti-bear-hunt crusader says he wasn’t surprised by the response of callers to his appearance on a Kamloops radio talk-show Monday morning.
Anthony Marr of the WCWC said the show, hosted by Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger on JC-55, drew 19 callers in favour of the hunt, five against.
The pro-hunting side is well organized and plugged up phone lines, he said about his appearance against BC Wildlife Federation president John Holdstock… “The 5 versus 19 call-ins illustrates that the silent majority is still silent,” he said…
1996-09-18 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Michelle Young
[Bear-hunt ban campaign strains ties between wilderness allies]
… BC Wildlife Federation president… John Holdstock said the WCWC’s effort …has already upset his group’s members.
“I’ve never seen our membership so angry,” he said. “An initiative like this goes to the core of what we do and what we believe in.”… “Anthony Marr has been trying to sell it as an anti-poaching issue. It’s a pro-poaching issue.”…
1996-09-25 The Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn
[BC Wildlife Federation forced to apologize for accusing WCWC of terror tactics]
The BC Wildlife Federation … has pulled the fall issue of its magazine off newsstand shelves because it contains defamatory statements against the WCWC.
As well, in ads appearing in The Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers, the federation makes a public apology for describing the environmental group, which prides itself on adopting legal tactics, as terrorists… In his editorial, (BCWF executive director Doug) Walker likened the WCWC to ‘terrorists groups who threaten human lives, burn houses, send razor blades in the mail or kill family pets to get attention…’…
Wilderness Committee director Paul George said in an interview the recall of the magazines and the apology in the Vancouver dailies is only a first step. The Federation must also apologize in smaller papers throughout the province and agree to pay all the Committee’s legal costs in launching the BC Supreme Court libel suit against the Federation, Walker and president John Holdstock…
1996-09-26 Terminal City, Vancouver, BC by Paul Johnson
[Ban bear hunting]
… One of BC’s foremost environmental organizations has discovered just how difficult the process surrounding citizens’ referendum can be. The WCWC is seeking to…
“The rules are just about unworkable,” says WCWC’s Anthony Marr. Their first problem is that referendum rules stipulate that there can be only one proponent for a referendum, but an unlimited number of opponents. In this case, Marr says, it’s WCWC’s Paul George against 107 parties: 69 organizations and 38 individuals… WCWC is also bogged down in the mechanics of the process… Marr points out that while referendums are common in many American states, “in BC things are so tough that no one has been successful in organizing a referendum.”
1996-10-05 Daily Free Press, Nanaimo, BC by Mark Brett
[Bear poaching on increase locally]
… Conservation officer Ron Heusen…said,… “We’ve had four kills in the last month right in the Nanaimo District area. In six years I’ve heard of maybe four carcasses poached for parts, and in one month, we’ve had four go down. There is no doubt it’s increasing.”… Meanwhile, Anthony Marr… is on his second road tour of BC…
1996-10-07 Macleans Magazine, national
[Hunted down by the law]
It was a case of ready, fire, aim for the BC Wildlife Federation, a group representing hunters in BC. With 25,000 copies of the September/October issue of its magazine, Outdoor Edge, already delivered to their BC members, the BC group had to abruptly cancel the remainder of its distribution, pull 60 copies from store shelves, and print a public apology in Vancouver newspapers last week. At issue were remarks that the cancelled edition contained about the WCWC…
1996-10-08 The Northerner, Fort St. John, BC by John Richards
[Peace River Regional District takes a stand against ban on bear hunting]
… The BC Wildlife Federation is mounting its own campaign to counter WCWC’s. Doug Walker, executive director of BCWF, rallied members in his column in Outdoor Edge magazine. The Federation is hoping to raise $500,000 for radio and TV air time and newspaper space in order to overshadow the petition. Walker is asking members to donate about $25 each to help with the cause. ‘I think we can all give up one box of shells or a tank of gas to preserve our hunting heritage,” he wrote……
Marr is stuck in a very hard place. If he only demands higher penalties and more protection for animals against poachers, he has hunters on his side, but as soon as he turns around and addresses the other side, he is met with complete opposition.
“Hunters go for the head and hide and poachers go for the gall and paws; they are all after bear parts…” Marr said...
1996-10-12-6 The News, Parksville, BC by Bruce Whitehead
[Bear Crusader takes man on the speaking tour from hell]
No matter how open-minded you are, you likely wouldn’t pick mild-mannered Anthony Marr out to be an environmental activist - let alone one that some have called ‘the most hated man in BC’. But the Chinese-Canadian physicist has almost single-handedly managed to fire up emotions in every corner of the province…
1996-10-12 The Saturday Okanagan, Kelowna, BC
[Anti-hunting campaign rolls into valley]
Anthony Marr is in the Okanagan this weekend organizing supporters to gather signatures against bear hunting… At least 20 local volunteers have applied with Elections BC to be registered canvassers. But so far, well into the petition period, the necessary paperwork still has not come through, Marr said…
1996-10-15 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Malcolm Curtis
[Anti-hunt activists face uphill battle for vote]
In areas where hunting is as common as walking the dog, canvassing for signatures is not for the weak-hearted… In a 12,000-km road trip to promote the referendum last summer, Marr often found himself confronting hallsful of angry hunters… The volunteers – 50 are already signed up in the Capital Region – have to be registered with the provincial government in a time-consuming process that involves 5 mailings…
1996-10 Mainstreet, Crawford Bay, BC by Susan Hulland
[The Ban Bear Hunting Initiative, an exercise in democracy]
… This initiative is part of a larger global process called the BET’R Campaign. Launched in 1995 and founded by an Asian named Anthony Marr…
The really interesting thing about this initiative is that there’s more at stake here than first meets the eye. Some hunters believe this is the first step in the total ban on all hunting…
Understandably… the big guns will be coming out of the bushes representing all sides of the issue. Also, the gallery is filling up quickly with interested parties who stand to lose or gain in some way depending on the final result.
Hunters and hunting support groups such as guides, outfitters and taxidermists are lining up on one side with lots of ranchers and pro-gun lobbyists. Supporters of the hunting ban are being joined by numerous scientists concerned for species diversity, animal rights proponents, and pacifists of all kinds.
You can be darned sure the bad guys are watching, too. Irrespective of the final outcome... heightened public awareness about bear hunting issues will affect their way of doing business. This will reverberate throughout the community of those who prosper from both the legal and illegal killing of bears, from our local community poachers to the sophisticated international criminals who deal in the animals parts commodities market.
You can also be sure the politicians are watching this process. And… also lots of other public advocacy groups…
1996-10-16 The Morning Sun, Vernon, BC by Richard Rolke
[Bear hunting ban under the gun]
… Marr said that… “the single proponent must work all 75 districts to ensure all succeed, whereas the 107 opponents need concentrate on just one district. If we fail in just one district, the whole project fails. The rules are stacked against us.”
1996-10-16 The Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn
[Victim of bear attack back campaign to end hunting]
Chilliwack – Just two months after he was mauled while camping, Jackson Brown would seem an unlikely person to sign a petition against bear hunting.
But Brown says he holds no grudge against bears…
1996-10-16 The Penticton Herald
[Campaign to ban bear hunt seeks help]
… Anthony Marr said he has about 15 people in the Penticton area so far to collect 3,200 signatures… Marr said about two-thirds of some 2,000 volunteers have so far been approved…
1996-10-17 The Sun, Vernon, BC
[Bid to ban bear hunting spreading]
Despite the odds, Anthony Marr is bearing down… “Even though we may not succeed in the petition, we’ll have launched one hell of an educational campaign,” he said…
1996-10-18 The Trail Times by Lana Rodlie
[Shooting to ban bear hunting]
Anthony Marr knows his chances of getting a provincial referendum on banning bear hunting is about as probable as a snowflake’s chance on a hotplate, but he’s trudging along getting signatures anyway… “Every observer says we can’t do it,” Marr said… While touring the province… he has been scorned, yelled at, intimidated, threatened and slandered.
In Penticton, 50 hunters showed up to disrupt a meeting…
… Marr doesn’t care if he is up against insurmountable odds, he still hopes to get his message out… One of the most frequently asked questions by hunters is why they are being persecuted when the real culprits are poachers. Marr said that they are both culprits, and the difference between a hunter and a poacher is irrelevant if you’re a bear.
When told that hunters could help by watching for poachers, Marr said that was like “wolves keeping coyotes from sheep.”…
1996-10-18 Victoria News by Wendy Cook
[Anthony Marr targeted by angry hunters in the north]
… Marr says BC hunters seem to be short-sighted in their vision of the potential crisis. “They don’t accept the global scene. They say ‘This is BC, don’t talk about Asia’ but the world is getting pretty small. What happens over here has an effect over there and vice versa,” he says.
BC Wildlife Federation’s Doug Walker does not agree. “To say expansion in China will increase the use of bear parts here is unfair…,” he says…
1996-10-21 Nelson Daily News by Bob Hall
[Hunting opponents struggle]
Anthony Marr admits it is a daunting task, but has vowed to go the distance in the effort to ban bear hunting in BC… “Pessimists say it is possible but very difficult and optimists say it is very difficult but possible,” said Marr, who was in Nelson over the weekend to rally support of volunteers who are collecting signatures. “We’re saying the latter and have to work on that premise to just keep going…”
1996-11-04 The Trail Times by Lana Rodlie
[Petition booth axed after threats to mall]
… The problem stemmed from a visit to Trail several weeks ago by Anthony Marr… Although Marr was scorned, yelled at, intimidated, threatened and slandered in other parts of the province, no one thought such tactics would be used here.
Unfortunately, for John and Rachel Kratky, intimidation raised its ugly head after Marr left.
The Kratkys volunteered to help Marr’s cause by locally obtaining signatures. They approached Waneta Plaza and asked if they could set up a table in the mall.
The mall manager saw no problem and said it was alright. However, the decision was quickly reversed.
“We were told that we couldn’t set up because the mall had received a bunch of phone calls from people threatening to picket,” said Rachel Kratky… Waneta Plaza manager Linda MacDermid confirms… MacDermid said this is the first time anyone has ever called with threats over a proposed petition campaign or anything else.
“We’ve always had all sorts of groups with petitions. Even when we had Pro-Choice people, we’ve never had any calls. Yet…”…
1996-11-12 The Citizen, Prince George, BC by Gordon Hoekstra
[Bear hunt opponents bring the campaign here]
The WCWC is sending a swat team to Prince George in a last ditch effort… Expected to arrive this Friday for a three-day stay, the team is to roll into town with a caravan of two or three vehicles – at least one of them highly decorated with banners – and set up shop, said bear protection campaign manager Anthony Marr from Vancouver… This summer, prior to the launch of the 90-day petition campaign, Marr received a less than warm reception from hunters at an information session here.
Marr said he expects it will get even hotter this time. “We’re in the home stretch, and we’re fighting.”…
The WCWC would be better off directing its attention to curtailing the Asian market that deal in bear parts, says groups like the BC Wildlife Federation…
1996-11-13 The Citizen, Prince George, BC by Gordon Hoekstra
[Malls turn away bear hunt opponents]
Unable to get permission to set up their ban-bear-hunting petition drive at any of the malls here, a Lower Mainland preservation group will try to gather signatures near the Civic Centre starting Friday.
In general, the malls told him that they didn’t want to alienate anyone, Anthony Marr said Tuesday… Marr believes many more people would have become bear petition canvassers in rural areas, but they’ve been intimidated by a strong counter reaction to the ban-bear-hunting campaign, especially in the Central Interior…
But he added, “We’ve got a job to do, and we’re giving it our best shot.”…
1996-11-13 The Globe and Mail (national)
[Bear-hunt ban sought]
The WCWC is sending a team of environmentalists to Prince George in a last ditch effort to gather signatures to ban bear hunting in BC. The group will set up near polling stations during the civic elections on Saturday, said campaign direct Anthony Marr… Only 20,000 signatures have been turned in to the Committee (to date).
1996-11-14 The Free Press, Prince George, BC by David Plug
[City won’t block bear banners from polling stations]
… A mobile campaign by the WCWC sets up shop in downtown Prince George tonight, and organizer Anthony Marr says local polling stations will be key sites for their petition for a referendum on bear hunting.
While municipal campaigners won’t be allowed within 100 meters of the polls, no such restriction applies to the WCWC canvassers.
“… There’s nothing in the Municipal Act that prohibits it as long as they’re not interfering with the election process or campaigning for a candidate,” says Joni Heinrich, Prince George’s deputy city clerk.
Of some concern is how heated encounters between canvassers and hunters will become… When asked if he expected some sort of fireworks when canvassers and hunters meet face-to-face, Marr replied, “No doubt, but we are willing to deal with it when it happens. We would like people to know that this is a totally legal process and totally democratic. We are playing by the book and hope the opponents do the same.”…
Their mobile campaign will travel to the Peace River region next week and could return here again on their way to Prince Rupert… (Marr) has arranged radio interviews for tomorrow morning on CBC-AM and CIRX/CJCI but not with CKPG’s Ben Meisner. “I’ve had two encounters with him and neither one was particularly enjoyable. I don’t particularly want his air time,” said Marr…
1996-11-14 Island Tides, Victoria, BC by Serena van Bakel
[Bear Care on election day – first citizen initiative]
… Paul George, Founding Director of WCWC, is the first person (by law, a proponents must be a person, not an organization) to seriously attempt to use BC’s new Recall and Initiative Act to bring forward citizen-generated legislation…
1996-11-15 Victoria New, Weekend Edition by Brian Dryden
[Bear activists piggyback on polls]
… To hit the target in the Capital Region, (WCWC’s Victoria campaign coordinator Liora Freedman says the blitz of municipal election polling stations will involve more than 80 canvassers who are registered to collect signatures.
John Marshall, deputy chief electoral officer for Victoria’s municipal election, says…, “As long as they are not connected to any candidates then they can do that…”…
1996-11-16 The Citizen, Prince George, BC by Gordon Hoekstra
[Bear ‘ban-wagon’ gets cool reception]
… Battling the wind and –10oC temperatures, WCWC canvassers from Vancouver set up tables Friday at the intersection of Victoria Street and 7th Avenue to gather signatures… Hunter Brad Davis stopped to protest the bear skin propped on top of the 24-foot, banner-decorated motor home, which he thought was in bad taste…
“It takes a lot of guts to be out here, and they need all the support they can get,” said Chris Leischner, an avowed environmentalist who signs the petition…
The 11-person caravan came to the North because the petition has struggled here…
1996-11-16 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Malcolm Curtis
[Bear canvassers will go ahead]
… Greg McDade, lawyer for the Sierra Legal Defense Fund, said there is nothing wrong with people collecting signatures for a petition outside a polling place.
… Terry Kirk, chief electoral officers for Saanich, said his municipality will not be preventing bear referendum supporters from gathering signatures…
1996-11-16 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Malcolm Curtis
[Hunting foes target voters in bid to force referendum]
… Organizers of the Ban Bear Hunting Initiative say they will have canvassers outside 53 of 57 polling stations in Greater Victoria on voting day, in a bid to gather more than 20,000 signatures.
“We are quite shy of our goal,” says Liora Freedman of WCWC… As of Tuesday, the group said it had collected fewer than 3,000 signatures from the 7 provincial ridings around Victoria.
“That’s misleading,” said Freedman, noting that many canvassers have collected more signatures, but have not yet mailed them in…
1996-11-19-2 The Globe and Mail, national by Gordon Gibson
[The bears and the ballot]
… On December 8 in BC, if the WCWC has its way, bears will have a date with democracy… Its gladiator in this fight is Anthony Marr, a Chinese-Canadian born in China… Mr. Marr feels a special ethnic responsibility and status in this crusade, which he has been pursuing with extraordinary intensity, barnstorming the province…
1996-11-19 Alberni Valley Times, Port Alberni, BC by Diane Morrison
[Physician takes up cause of wild bears in valley]
Mike Barrett would rather see Black bears used as a natural resource to attract tourists than to see them used as an attraction for hunters to kill… Dr. Barrett is one of the volunteers collecting signatures…
“Eco-tourism, and soft adventure tourism, is the biggest growth area in the economy on the West Coast…,” he said…
1996-11-20 The Vancouver Sun Canadian Press
[Bear-hunt foe threatens to sue]
Prince George - … Barney Kern of the WCWC was collecting signatures in the Civic Centre on Saturday while voting took place.
He said he was ordered to leave by chief electoral officer Allan Chabot and city manager George Paul. “We do not need permission to collect signatures in a public place,” said Kern…
1996-11-20 The Mirror, Sooke, BC by Mitch Moore
[Bear hunting protestors cry foul]
… Kerry Fedosenko, the returning officer at the Saseenos school polling station, said she was instructed by the chief electoral officer Thomas Moore to ask a lone canvasser to move from the school… The canvasser, Jefferson Bray, complied.
Later, however, Bray and two other supporters moved back closer to the entrance and Moore contacted the Sooke RCMP.
Bray said he reluctantly complied until he was told by other ‘Bear Day’ volunteers that Fedosenko had no authority to ask him to move.
“I was told that I was well within my rights to be there. I wasn’t blocking people’s access and I was not representing any of the candidates… He refused to move when asked by RCMP officers. They eventually let him stay…
1996-11-21 The Tribune, Williams Lake, BC by Jonathan Desbarats
[Bear campaign confrontation]
A group campaigning to ban bear hunting in BC was turfed out of Boltanio Mall yesterday after a confrontation with the president of the Williams Lake Sportsman’s Association…
1996-11-21 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC
[Bear Care-A-Van parked for petition]
… while (Marr) was in Prince George, one man threatened to punch him in the face and another deliberately bumped his shoulder while walking past… hard enough to spin Marr around.
But in two days, 1,700 signatures were gathered in Prince George…
1996-11-22 Kamloops This Week by Jennifer Muir
[Hunting protest in homestretch]
WCWC volunteers Barney Kern and Jon French do their best to stay warm while collecting signatures on the ban the bear hunt petition at the corner of Third and Victoria Thursday… WCWC spokesman Anthony Marr says at present the organization has up to 40,000 signatures…
1996-11-22 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC
[Bear-ban campaign passes through city, collects 450 more signatures on petition]
… You couldn’t miss Gloria Fraser, decked out in a hot pink snowsuit as she asked passersby if they wanted to put their names to a petition to stop bear hunting in the province.
“I have watched the demise of our wildlife for over 50 years,” she said….
1996-11-24 Ming Pao, global (Chinese) by Eric Chan
[Ma Shiu-Sang incites Chinese Canadians to sign anti-bear-hunt petition]
… Ma Shiu-Sang and his volunteers gathered several hundred signatures at the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond yesterday…
1996-11-25 The Trail Times by David Wilford
[Shoot surplus bears and cougars]
To the Editor: … The next enemy we have is a guy called Marr…
1996-11-26 The Penticton Herald
[Sights set on saving bears]
… Barney Kern… At his own expense, he took time off work and rented a motor home to collect signatures for the Ban Bear Hunting Initiative…
1996-11-29 The Free Press, Prince George, BC by B. Elliott
[Bear hunting ban signers should be proud]
I was not surprised by the intimidating, dirty behavior of some wildlife killers during Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s visit… Some wildlife killers and their supporters carried over their violent actions from defenseless animals to non-violent animal supporters, going so far as to tear up petition sheets filled with signatures…
1996-11-30 The Vancouver Sun by Ian Graysom
[Who cares about bears?]
… Marr… says while Kenya and India had outlawed lion and tiger hunting respectively, “Canada is still quagmired in the ‘Great White Hunter’ tradition.”…
1996-12-02 Salmon Arm Shoppers’ Guide
[Bear Caravan stops in Salmon Arm]
…according to (WCWC volunteer) Jon French… a small percentage of people exhibited very childish behaviour, swearing, and even shouting racial epithets as they passed by. These racial slurs were directed at Anthony Marr, who is Chinese Canadian. He has led the drive to prevent bear hunting…
1996-12-04 The Courier Islander, Campbell River by Dan MacLennan
[Anti-bear hunt backers get cool local reception]
Supporters of a total ban on bear hunting collected signatures in Campbell River Monday despite some less than friendly responses.
“We got kicked out of the Tyee Plaza around 11:30 even though we had permission,” (WCWC Bear-Care-a-Van member) Steve Quattrocchi said…
1996-12-04 The Mirror, Campbell River, BC by Matthew Plumtree
[Protesters, hunters clash]
Chilly temperatures and a posse of hunters… made life difficult for those seeking signatures… “I was trying to be a dink, but after all these years, it sure feels good,” said (local hunting guide David) Fyfe…
1996-12-04 The Times, Maple Ridge, BC by Corinne Jackson
[Bear petition on the hunt for names]
…There are about 20 people gathering names locally… Mike Gildersleeve said he’s collected about 400 himself… The response has been “really positive”, he added. “People that have seen me come marching up and ask ‘Where can I sign?’”…
1996-12-07 The Vancouver Sun by Herb Gilbert
[Who cares about bears? Quite a few readers.]
… I hope more people will come to see the big picture of what is happening to planet Earth. And when the light goes on in their minds, they will turn green, like the Paul Georges and Anthony Marrs of this world.
1996-12-07 The Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn
[Bear-hunting petition falls short]
… (WCWC founder Paul) George said efforts to collect signatures were hampered on a number of fronts - canvassers were frequently denied permission to operate in rural shopping malls, hunters shadowed canvassers and intimidated citizens who might have otherwise signed…
1996-12-07 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Malcolm Curtis
[Anti-hunting effort falls short]
BC’s referendum law needs to be rewritten, otherwise the public will never have a chance to vote on any initiative… Anthony Marr acknowledges Friday the group’s bid to force a referendum on the hunting issue will fall short… In Washington state, where voters last month approved an initiative to ban hunting of bears using dogs and bait… The Washington referendum system has more relaxed rules…
1996-12-10 The Province, Vancouver, BC by Charlie Anderson
[Drive for bear-hunting referendum falls short]
Supporters of a ballot on bear hunting are bloody but unbowed… “The law itself is an ass,” said (WCWC founder Paul) George, who favors referendums based on the U.S. model. “No issue, no group could ever get that amount of signatures all sorted by electoral district.”…
1996-12-10 The Province, Vancouver, BC by Michael Smyth
[Law "designed to fail"]
… Critics then and now have attacked the Recall and Initiative Act as unworkable, phony legislation.
And now we have proof… The group had an emotional issue, apparently broad public support, hundreds of volunteers and one of the environmental movement’s best-organized, well-financed public relations machine at its disposal.
Despite these resources, the group’s BC-wide petition drive fell far short…
1996-12-17 Positive Action News, Victoria, BC by Nicholas Ford
[The fight to help bears through the tool of law]
… Anthony Marr is October’s hero… He has bravely faced up to repeated intimidation from hunters and debates them on lecture tours. He is a man with a vision… (His) activism in BC on bears is based on excellent foresight…
1996-12-18 News Leader, Burnaby, BC by Rob Gerein
[Bear hunters come under fire]
… The majority of the population doesn’t like guns, doesn’t like trophy hunting and, increasingly, they don’t like hunters…
1996-12 Sing Tao Daily News (Chinese), global
[Three Chinese-Canadian eco-warriors]
… Anthony Marr’s prime motive is to ensure a healthy and beautiful world for our children… He plans to go straight into the tigers’ homelands - India, China… to save them where they live…
1996-12-28 The Vancouver Sun, West Coast People
[1996’s Top 10 - The leaders who made a difference]
… Anthony Marr…has been in a showdown with bear hunters, who aren’t taking kindly to his quest…
* * * * *
New Year’s Eve. Time to summarize a very good year.
First and foremost and be all and end all of course is Christopher. I am his “godfather”, but I love him as I would my own son, and in the near constant absence of “Dada”, he all but considers me as any child would his own father. Christine wants me to go through some kind of church Godfatherhood ceremony, but I declined. There is nothing any ceremony in any church that can add to the promise I have made directly to Christopher and to myself, and to God if you must. On the contrary, I feel that it would distract from the purity of my promise and further, perhaps even cheapen it by imposing some institutional covenant over it. I am here because I want to be here, not because some institution tells me to be here. I have always been pro-essence and anti-ritual, and after all these years, Christine should know it if not respect it.
Almost every weekend, I would take Christopher out by myself to give Christine a break. He loves the outdoors – forests, beaches, rivers, lakes… He loves animals – my cats, horses in the field, birds on the wing, fish beneath the waves… And like any child, he loves playgrounds. And with his enjoyment of them, his vocabulary of them grows accordingly.
Often times, during the week, Christine would also ask me to baby-sit Christopher when she goes with her friends on their “ladies’ night out”.
Again I must acknowledge Christine’s inestimable trust in me. On my part, I’m always very safety conscious. I never ever let Christopher out of my sight. I’m always kind and gentle with him. I never ever use coercion on him, but always use reason with him. I interact with him closely and as an equal. He looks to me for protection, for safety, for security, for guidance, but most of all for friendship. I’m always there for him whenever he needs me. We are physically and emotionally very close, always holding hands, hugging, piggy-backing, talking, laughing… At home, we play our “castle” games, I give him “airplane rides”, I help him brush his teeth, give him baths, read him bed time stories, tuck him in… In the car, while on the way out or in, he usually sleeps. I take care to shield him from the sun, keep him dry in the rain and warm in the snow. I am the only dedicated man in his life. I love him more than any other person in mine - past, present and, I have little doubt, future. I cannot understand why some fathers are so neglectful, let alone abusive, to their own biological offspring. Christopher can’t say much yet, but he can fill volumes with the pure love of a child.
* * * * * * * * * *
1997-01 Wildlife News and Views by Andrea Stevens, North West Wildlife Preservation Society
[Seeking an end to Bear hunting in BC]
… Motivation for attempting the huge petition came from a 1995 Angus Reid poll which showed that 78% of those polled support banning trophy hunting of black bears in BC…
1997-01-11-6 The Review, Richmond, BC by David DaSilva
[Hunting presentation called off in latest enviro-hunting clash]
… Students in an environmental club at Palmer Secondary School arranged to have Anthony Marr… speak… But when Doug Walker of the BC Wildlife Federation heard about it, and (told the school to either cancel out on Marr or give them equal time), the event was (suspended)…
1997-01-17 Daily News, Nanaimo, BC by Anthony Marr
[Vanderhorst misled with numbers]
… WCWC’s stand on the anti-hunting campaign is to start and end with the bear, but for once, Vanderhorst is right about me. I am against recreational and trophy hunting… of any species… Ultimately, everything has to do with one species - our own, regarding how civilized we truly are.
1997-02-13-4 The Vancouver Sun by Anthony Marr
[Tiger, tiger, burning…out?]
… If we commit to Gaia our heart and soul, our children may just see a new world emerge, one more compassionate than ever before, perhaps one destined for the stars.
1997-03 New Internationalist magazine by Ross Crockford
[Bad Medicine –
Ross Crockford tells the story of a man who has stepped on toes from Campbell River to Hong Kong to stop a pernicious trade…]
Anthony Marr knows what it feels like to be endangered. Last summer the Vancouver environmentalist was touring small towns in British Columbia... Often the reception he got was downright hostile. Many people in the countryside claimed he was trying to destroy their livelihood and their heritage...
Now, Marr is taking his campaign around the world... He knows there will be some risk; organized crime is directly involved in the endangered species trade... But after tangling with British Columbia's hunters, he should be ready.
1997-03-19 The Hindu, Delhi, India
[In aid of the vanishing Bengal Tiger]
Finally, the BET’R Campaign of Western Canada Wilderness Committee to save bears, elephants, tigers and rhinos has entered India as well…
1997-04-24- The Georgia Straight magazine, BC by Shawn Blore
[Old Superstition and New Cosmology
Anthony Marr wants to stop the medicinal use of tiger products before it destroys a magnificent species]
Pessimist give the world's tigers 5 years. Realists, 10.
They're the kind of numbers that make you want to quietly despair, to give up, to flip the channel and think about something more pleasant. Melrose Place maybe, or Roseanne. Marr, however, whether from a sense of conceit, ignorance, or a staggering sense of confidence, saw nothing impossible in the task of bringing the tiger back from the brink...
... To highlight the extent of Vancouver's tiger trade, Marr kicked off a media blitz in January 1996. Local journalists were invited on an endangered species tour through Chinatown's apothecaries. The tour began in the low-ceilinged warren that serves as WCWC's headquarters. Marr upended his leather briefcase, spilling out 15-20 boxes of Chinese patent medicines: tiger plasters, tiger pills, tiger-based medicaments for rheumatism, tired blood, soft bones, and sexual impotence, all of them purchased in shops in Vancouver's Chinatown. Pointing to the ingredients lists on the diverse packages, Marr picked out the symbols, words, and phrases that in Latin, English and Chinese spelled out “tiger bone”.
The next part of the tour was a trip along Pender, Main and Keefer Streets, with Marr indicating here and there the shops and apothecaries dealing in tiger medicinals and inviting journalists to go in and check the shelves for themselves. Six shops out of 10 stocked a variety of boxes, cartons and bottles labeled with some variation of the word Os Tigris - tiger bone.
The media loved it. Marr made it on to TV news both locally and nationally, and stories appeared in city magazines and community papers. He used his pulpit to heap scorn upon Canadian wildlife regulations. “Canada's wildlife laws could use an aphrodisiac,' Marr said, “because right now, they're totally impotent.” He was equally hard-hitting in his presentations to Chinese community groups and at Eastside Vancouver high schools. Traditional Chinese medicine's use of parts of animals like tigers and rhinos, Marr said, and the cutting of many urban trees for that matter, were based on nothing but pure superstition. That superstition was destroying a magnificent species. The fact that the practice was tolerated by the Chinese-Canadian community only blackened their reputation in mainstream Canadian society.
Environmentalists heaved a sigh of relief. Here was someone tackling a problem they had long known about but dared not touch. “It's great that it's a Chinese person doing the work he's doing.” said Nathalie Chalifour, World Wildlife Fund Canada's tiger expert, “because when it's a person like me doing it, well, I'm white; I'm more likely to be accused to being racist, which is really unfortunate, but it does happen.”
Vancouver's Chinese media were as quick to jump on the story as their English counterparts. Marr's campaign was covered by both the Ming Pao and the Sing Tao newspapers, and he appeared on several Chinese language radio programs. According to Ming Pao columnist and CJVB radio host Gabriel Yiu, the Chinese community's reaction to Marr's campaign was mixed. His straight talk on superstition did offend some, but there was also those who took pride in the fact that a Chinese Canadian was working on environmental concerns. “For a long period of time when people are talking about monster homes, tree cutting, killing wild animals for some of their body parts,” Yiu said, “people do have the impression that the Chinese community is the cause of that. I think the work Anthony did set a very good example that we do have people in the Chinese community who are concerned about these issues.”...
According to Vancouver city councilor Don Lee, Marr's effectiveness was limited... “I don't know Anthony Marr that well. The Chinese Community doesn't know him well at all,” Lee said. “We don't know where he comes from. We don't know why he's doing all this.” As it turns out, those are two of the most interesting questions that could be asked about Anthony Marr.
Born in February 1944, in southern China, Anthony Seeu-Sung Marr fled to Hong Kong along with the rest of his family shortly after the Communist revolution. Family legend has Marr's father burning the deeds of the family's extensive land-holdings for a moment's warmth during the first refugee winter...
(In 1965), Marr came to Canada to study science at the University of Manitoba... At the same time, his relationship with a Hong Kong girl fell to bits when she dropped him on orders from her parents. Marr has never forgiven Chinese culture for the snub. “As a result of that incident, I have never dated a Chinese girl again,” Marr said. It's a decision that isolated him somewhat from the Chinese community, but, according to Marr, it also allowed him to integrate more fully into Canadian society than other Chinese immigrants of his generation.
In 1966, Marr switched over to the physics department of the University of British Columbia. His summers he spent in the bush in northern Manitoba and British Columbia, working as a geologist's assistant. It was work that can only be idealized by someone who has never done it. Marr said, “The student is the geologist's personal servant - more like slave, considering the pay, which was only $280 per month. I made and carried his lunch, and every few feet, the geologist would pick up a rock sample about twice the size of my fist and drop it into my knapsack. I had to carry that ever-heavier thing all day, wading into swamps that would sometimes come up to my chest or higher. Your shirt would be black with flies and mosquitoes. There could be a bear behind every tree. It was brutal, but also absolutely beautiful. And this was how I bonded with nature.”
After he graduated with a B.Sc. in 1970, Marr took a job as a live-in house-father for emotionally disturbed kids, then a career in real estate. He said he had a heavy student loan to pay off. One senses he also had a need to gain acceptance among the Vancouver business community. “I made rookie of the year, then Gold Club, Diamond Club, all that,” Marr said. “I bought a couple of horses - hunters-jumpers - and got involved with the high social elite you see down in Southlands.” Snap shots from the time show a short-haired Marr in boots and riding breeches, sitting atop a bay Thoroughbred gelding.
The real estate phased continued for several years. Marr bought a small acreage in the suburbs. He dated but never married. “The work first became routine, then boring, then irksome, then unbearable. I was still good at it, but the initial challenge was gone,” he said.
About this time, things took a strange turn. Whether from boredom, a need to be alone, or perhaps simple a desire to see the sights, he left his job and set off on a solo journey in East Africa, primarily in the Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge region of Tanzani. At some point during that three month sojourn, something happened that changed the whole focus of Marr's life…
Whether his confidence came stems from, when the “‘19th-century scholar' decided to prove himself as an environmental saviour, he displayed a thoroughly 19th century sense of ambition...
… Although some conservationists predict the tiger will be extinct in five years, Anthony Marr is convinced he can reverse the prophecy…
… China imported the equivalent of 400 grown tigers and exported 27 million tiger derivative products from 1990 to 1993… About 39,000 individual tiger containing products were seized in BC in 1996, including everything from medicinals to tiger claws…
A Vancouver branch of Asian Conservation Awareness Program is planning to begin an ad blitz this June, timed to coincide with the dragon-boat festival. Ironically, Marr will likely not be invited to participate. According to ACAP's Vancouver organizer Ling Zheng, Marr's confrontational style doesn't fit in with ACAP's approach, which hinges on establishing partnerships with the Chinese community groups and obtaining sponsorship from prominent corporations. “We're trying to reach out to the Chinese community, so we try not to use his name,” Zheng said. “If we mention Anthony Marr, I will probably not get any help from organizations like SUCCESS or the Chinese Cultural Centre. He can be quite harsh towards certain Chinese people, and I've even heard that in the Chinese community he's considered like a traitor.”
Whether that’s true or not, Marr has shifted his efforts from reducing consumption into preserving tiger habitat. With the aid of a $75,000 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency, Marr has gone to India to work towards protecting two Indian tiger reserves from encroachment and poaching by local villagers. The plan is to take a traveling multi-media show to villages around the tiger reserves and convince the villagers that the tiger is worth more to them alive than dead.
“Do you think these women enjoy walking five miles every day into the bush to collect a bunch of twigs and carry it back to the village on top of their heads? They do it because they have no choice,” Marr said. “If we give them a choice and say, Look, we’re going to develop ecotourism, we’re going to organize tourist groups to come to your village, and maybe you can develop some native products to sell to them… Wouldn’t you rather stay at home and weave baskets with your kids than walk five miles to haul water?” Other conservationists from other groups have made these arguments before, often with little success, but with characteristic confidence, Marr is convinced he will succeed….
1997-05-08 The Georgia Straight, Vancouver by Roland Goetz
[Save tigers rather than saving feelings]
… According to the article ([Bloody Superstition] - April 14), Garry Grigg of the Canadian Wildlife Service says, “We don’t want to be too heavy. We have got too many new Canadians here, and it takes a while to assimilate. We’re dealing with something that is thousands of years old.”
My question is, would we allow other cultural practices, such as incest, clitoral mutilation, bestiality, or polygamy, to be imported into Canada?…
… to save some feelings, we (may be allowing) a magnificent species to be destroyed.
Korea Leads Illegal Trade in Bear Parts
LONDON -- (ENS) -
In a report released this week, an international coalition of wildlife organizations, including the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), expose South Korea92s leading role in the illegal trade in bear parts. The report , “Killed for Korea” concludes that “South Korea and Korean people abroad represent the bears’ worst enemy after habitat loss.”
Undercover film recently taken by animal campaigners shows Korean-sponsored bear poaching and gallbladder smuggling on an international scale as well as the killing of endangered bears for South Korean restaurant-goers.
The bears are desired for bear paw soup, a highly prized delicacy in South Korea. Diners will pay in excess of US$1,000 for a bowl of bear paw soup.
WSPA, together with the Korean Federation for the Environment Movement (KFEM), Humane Society of the US/Humane Society International (HSUS/HSI) and the Global Survival Network (GSN), is lobbying the US government to sanction South Korea over the illegal trade in bear parts. The organizations, with a total membership of over four million people worldwide, are considering an international boycott campaign of Korean goods, if their current approaches to Korean authorities are unsuccessful.
Andrew Dickson, WSPA chief executive, said, “Consumption of bear parts is a national disgrace for South Korea. We are trying to persuade the Korean authorities to stop this illegal trade which is pushing Asian bears towards extinction.”
WSPA’s campaign is being backed by the Korean Federation for the Environment Movement (KFEM). Kwon Heanyol, spokesperson for KFEM said, “This outdated practice is a slur on our national reputation. It makes us look cruel and barbaric. Herbal, synthetic and Western alternatives exist for bear gallbladder. Why can’t all Koreans use these instead of continuing to torture and slaughter bears?”
Anthony Marr, organizer of Bears, Elephants, Tigers, Rhinos (BETR), a conservation campaign based in Vancouver, British Columbia, confirms that South Korea is the world's leading consumer of bear parts. Marr says, “South Koreans sometimes import black bears on the pretext of using them for zoo exhibits, then they have them killed in front of restaurant customers to prove authenticity and freshness.”
Marr says he has read reports of caged bears lowered live onto hot coals to have their paws cooked. This procedure is supposed to guarantee freshness, authenticity and entertainment for the customer.
Marr has a video showing a 1989 restaurant menu from the posh Hilton hotel in Seoul offering “bear palm soup. Price - current.”
Bear paws are considered a delicacy, not a medicinal, but bear gall bladders are prized for their medicinal effect.
The powdered bile taken from the bear galls has a whole range of uses, primarily for digestive healing and intestinal illnesses including parasites and bacterial infections. The powdered bile is used as an anti-spasmodic, a pain-killer, tranquillizer, an anti-allergenic, and a cough remedy. It is also considered to be a general purpose body tuning tonic. Bear bile is even said to restore a liver damaged by overdrinking.
Unlike tiger bones and rhino horns which have no real medicinal value, bear galls do contain ursodeoxycolic acid which does have a medicinal effect. This acid was patented as a synthetic in Japan in the 1930s. Today, 150 tons are used annually worldwide.
There are seven species of bears in the world, excluding the panda and koala, which are not considered to be true bears. Three bear species are endangered, particularly the Asiatic black bear, which used to be the main source of galls. The Asiatic black bear is now almost completely wiped out in China and Korea.
To meet the demand from Korea and other Asian countries, poachers have been taking bears from Russia and North America. Marr says poaching is “huge” in North America. Poachers have been caught in British Columbia recently, but provincial laws have no teeth, as the indigenous bears are not yet listed as endangered.
The penalty is very light when poachers are caught in B.C. Marr says, “Someone recently caught with 90 galls, which would easily sell for US$250,000 thousand in Korea, was fined $3,500 bucks, not even the price of one gall in Korea. For every batch of poached bear parts discovered by law enforcement officers, 49 get away. Customs officials estimate they can check only 2-3% of what goes out of Canada.”
Marr estimates that between 20,000 and 40,000 bears are poached in Canada yearly. Legal trophy hunting kills 22,000 more.
In London, the WSPA is offering broadcast quality undercover footage showing the killing of endangered bears for South Korean diners and the farming of bears in China, some of which are destined for the Korean market
(From the Environment News Service: http://www.envirolink.org/environews/ens/)
1997-05-18-3 The Free Press, Price George, BC by David Plug
[Poaching for gall-bladders –
Asian demand pushes up numbers, says conservationists]
Animal advocates and wildlife officials agree that most poachers of bear parts are never caught, but differ wildly on the scale of the problem in the north,
To Anthony Marr… last week’s laying of 67 charges for unlawful possession of bear parts against a Prince George resident is just the tip of the iceberg…
1997-05-25-1 The Vancouver Sun by Anthony Marr
[Unbearable bear facts]
Recent radio ads (by the BC Wildlife Federation) portray deliberate misrepresentations of truth… that “96% of BC’s residents rejected” last year’s Bear Referendum objective, citing that only 4% of BC’s residents signed the petition…
… the ad itself is a demonstration of the usual illogic and dishonesty of the trophy hunters, and shows that the BC Wildlife Federation is worried. If they really believe that 96% of BC’s residents support trophy hunting, what do they have to worry about?
1997-07 Discovery Channel, cable TV - Forbidden Places series
Forbidden Places’ examines Canada’s thriving poaching trade - … Only small victories can be claimed. For a bigger victory, there must be a public outrage - which may begin with programs like this. – Anthony Marr featured.
1997-07-08 The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario by Finbar O’Reilly
[Animal activist targets Chinatown]
… One Ottawa professor of traditional Chinese medicine, who asked not to be identified, said she abides by Canada’s laws banning the sale of tiger and bear parts, but that doesn’t mean she agrees with them.
“How come you have to protect the tiger, but not the cow?” she asked. “I am a doctor. I want to treat people. If you care more about human than animal (sic), then why not use animal parts for safety?”…
Mr. Marr, who plans a visit to the Chinatowns of both Toronto and Ottawa (to demonstrate that the new law) is not being properly enforced…
1997-07-11 The Toronto Sun by Tom Godfrey
[Tiger goods on shelf]
“… Toronto has become a hotbed for the sale of animal parts, including penises…,” said Anthony Marr…
… within an hour he was able to buy processed medicines containing or claiming to contain tiger bone, seal penis, deer penis…
1997-07-15 The Globe and Mail, national by Michael Valpy
[The trade in seal and tiger parts]
This is a Canadian story. Anthony Marr, a Chinese Canadian who lives in Vancouver, is sitting in a Toronto hotel restaurant waiting for a television crew.
When the crew arrives, he will take its members to Toronto's Chinese community’s downtown commercial district on Spadina Avenue. Here they will wire him with a microphone and film him buying illegal tiger bone pills and legal, regrettably, seal penis pills…
Mr. Marr, an intense man, says he (as a Chinese Canadian) has been embarrassed by all these practices…
1997-09 Video production by Terry Brooks
on Anthony Marr’s BET’R Campaign
Winner of: Global Vision Award / 1997 Cascadia Festival of Moving Images, Award of Excellence (3rd) / 20th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival (2nd) / International Film & Video Festival, Silver Seal Award, Merit Award for Conservation Message
* * * * *
September 25, 1997
Christopher is on the point of verbal blossoming. For the last few weeks, he’s been expanding in vocabulary daily. Now, he can name numerous kinds of animals and plants and inanimate objects, and can begin to form four-word sentences like “I love you mommy”, even five-word sentences like “I love you Uncle Dodo.” Music to my ears. Everything he says and does is so indescribably delightful. Everything about him is so infinitely lovable. (Have I already said this, and if so, how many times?) And he is such a loving child. I feel so honoured to be his beloved “Uncle Dodo”.
And he loves his mommy. When I take him out by myself, maybe to Coquitlam River or Pacific Spirit Park, he would find something to bring back home to mama, be it a leaf or a twig or a stone or a berry. When Christine says she’s tired or not well, he would go and hug her.
* * * * *
October 1, 1997
Just on TV: “Alcoholism and the Gene”. Is alcoholism genetically based? Is it hereditary? And my personal question: Has Christopher inherited a genetic predisposition to alcoholism from Charles? I hope and pray not, but if he has, then all I can hope for is that we can build for him a strong enough emotional foundation and a high enough self-esteem for him to overcome his genetic weakness. In this context I view myself as a highly beneficial source of strength for him, seeing that I have a reasonably solid emotional base and a reasonably high self-esteem, plus the guarantee that I do not drink – since I have a genetic predisposition to get an immediate hangover upon ingesting any alcohol, so why bother? I have never experienced being drunk in my life, but however nice it might feel, I’m glad I would have not occasion to subject myself to the undignified drunken behavior I have observed on skid road, and, at closer quarters, in Charles.
Also, according to the TV program, and to my own experience with emotionally disturbed children, he must be protected from traumatic experiences at all cost, especially when he is very young, since very young children with such experiences are much more prone to depressions and other psychological problems later in life, which could act as triggers to drinking. At Browndale I’ve experienced first hand the intensity and causes of the agonies of emotionally disturbed children. I must safeguard Christopher’s emotional wellbeing to the best of my ability.
* * * * *
1997-10-01-3 News Leader, Burnaby, BC
[Gilmore students join efforts to "Save-the-Tiger"]
… “Unless a huge conservation effort ignites now, the tiger will be extinct in the wild within a decade…” said Anthony Marr… who gives the slideshows to the schools. “Some adults say, ‘How many tiger are there in Canada? Why should we be bothered?’ Go ask the kids.…”
1997-10-04-6 The Peace Arch News, Surrey, BC by Tracy Holmes
[Care for the cats]
Save the tiger.
That was the message students of Peace Arch Elementary received at a presentation by… Anthony Marr…
Under the watchful eyes of a 50-foot inflatable tiger, the kids learned that only 4,000 tigers remain in the wild, and that some subspecies totaled less than the number of students in the gym.
But, “I do not believe the tiger is doomed,” Anthony Marr told the kids. “The reason I believe this is because nobody has ever asked kids like you to help out. If we can get kids around the world to say, ‘I want to save the tiger’, I believe the tiger will be saved.”…
He also asked them to come to WCWC’s Save-the-Tiger Walk at Stanley Park Oct. 18.
1997-10-08-3 The Vancouver Courier by Gudrun Will
[Students take tiger by the tail]
High school environmental club rallies behind animal activist.
An auditorium full of Kitsilano high school students roared in appreciation…
Inspiring youth, Marr believes, is the only hope to save the rapidly diminished species in the long run…
1997-10-10-5 The Toronto Star by Joseph Hall
[Seals killed to fill demand for sex potions, group charges]
… Group brings together prominent Canadians…
Canadian taxpayers are subsidizing an international trade in seal penises to create dubious Chinese sex potions, a new anti-sealing group - Canadians Against the Commercial Seal Hunt - has charged…
Vancouver environmentalist Anthony Marr says seals are shot or clubbed at random and then turned over to see whether they’re males.
He says that most of the seal penises harvested in this way went into Chinese aphrodisiacs that have no scientifically proven value (just like tiger penis medicines)…
1997-10-16 The Westender, Vancouver
[Halloween fun, Tiger Walk set]
… The WCWC has organized Save-the-Tiger Walk ’97…
1997-10-19-7 The Province, Vancouver
[Walking for wildlife]
Hundreds of concerned people took part in the ‘Save-the-Tiger Walk’ in Vancouver’s Stanley Park yesterday. They were walking to raise money to protect the dwindling number of tigers left in the wild.
1997-10-19-7 Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global
[1,000 people walk to save 4,000 tigers]
WCWC’s Save-the-Tiger Walk attracted over 1,000 children and their teachers and parents, and raised $20,000…
1997-10-29-3 The Comox Valley Echo by Diane Radmore
[Service to remember animals]
Animal lovers of all kinds are invited to come hear guest speakers and attend an outdoor gathering called In Remembrance of the Animals at noon Saturday, November 1, at the Sid Williams Foundation in downtown Courtenay…
… Anthony Marr, initiator of the worldwide BET’R Campaign… will also be in attendance…
1997-10-31-5 The Comox Valley Record by Diane Radmore
[Vigil for lost wildlife]
Local activists to speak at downtown rally tomorrow…
… Since last year’s referendum on bear hunting in BC campaign, Marr has been to India on behalf of the dwindling tiger population and was a guest speaker at last week’s International Fund for Animal Welfare Conference concerning the East Coast seal hunt…
1997-11-08-6 The Vancouver Sun by Alex Strachan
[Mason Lee can be bright, witty and hugely irritating]
On the Edge (Global TV), with Robert Mason Lee…
… A recent debate between Vancouver Aquarium director John Nightingale, UBC animal welfare professor Dan Weary, Western Canada Wilderness Committee scientist Anthony Marr and the Humane Society’s Ingrid Pollack about the moral and ethical implications of keeping whales in captivity was informative and captivating.
Another recent discussion about smokers’ rights… was pointless and irritating…
* * * * * * * * * *
1998-01-21 The Vancouver Sun by Stephen Hume
[Bear hunting foe attacked in city]
BC environmentalist Anthony Marr is recovering after being beaten by a burly man who said, “Let this be a lesson to you.”
[Photo] Caption: Beaten but unbowed – Anthony Marr says he is undeterred in his campaign despite beating.
An environmentalist known for his opposition to bear hunting and the black market for animal parts was recovering Tuesday after being attacked in Vancouver’s West End.
Anthony Marr said he was waylaid about 7:30 p.m. Monday in the 1600 block of Haro Street as he made his way to his car after a dinner with his parents at their home.
Environmental groups have been complaining about a sharp increase in threats of physical violence directed at their members…
“I was parked in the lane”, Marr said. “There was this guy waiting for me by my car. He advanced a few steps and said, ‘Are you Anthony Marr?’ I said yes and he immediately launched his attack.”
Marr… said his assailant was “over six feet and around 200 pounds” and rained blows upon his head and face, fracturing facial bones and damaging his eye socket.
“Then he said, ‘Let this be a lesson to you,’ and walked off,” Marr said.
The University of British Columbia Hospital confirmed that Marr was admitted and treated in the emergency ward shortly after 7:30 p.m. Vancouver city police confirmed receiving his report of the attack about 8:40 p.m.
Marr recently led a controversial and widely publicized Western Canada Wilderness Committee campaign to have bear hunting banned in BC.
He has also been active in successfully pressuring government for controls in the black market on endangered species parts in the Asian community…
Marr’s silver 1993 Mazda sports car and its license plate became well known during the anti-hunting campaign, he says.
Marr drove 12,000 kilometers and visited almost every significant community in BC during the summer of 1996, holding public and private meetings that laid the groundwork for a province-wide initiative petition towards driving a referendum vote on banning bear hunting.
Campaigners obtained 93,000 signatures in a 90-day blitz that mobilized 1,800 volunteers, but fell well short of the 250,000 or 10 percent of the electorate - needed to force government action under recall and initiative legislation.
The petition campaign, however, gave Marr a high media profile.
He said he was constantly harassed by pro-hunting (forces). Pickup trucks tailgated his car and he received anonymous threats of violence by phone.
“My reaction is that it merely strengthens my resolve to continue with this campaign…”
Paul George, a director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, described the attack on Marr as “deplorable” and said it was time for police and government to take seriously the “threats of violence and all the rhetoric that our people are subjected to.”
“I think this [violent rhetoric] unleashes hate against environmentalists just as much as it does against Jews or people of a different sexual persuasion or anything like that,” George said.
1998-01-21 Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global
[Ma Seeu-Sung assaulted]
… Around 7:30 yesterday evening, when Ma was returning to his car after a dinner with his parents, a man approached him and asked if he was Anthony Marr. When Marr said ‘Yes’, the man launched his fist attack…
“It was so fast and sudden I didn’t even have time to turn the other cheek,” Ma added with a wry grin…
1998-01-22 The WestEnder, Vancouver
[Protector of bears mauled by attacker]
… Anthony Marr received a flurry of blows to the face and head, resulting in a fractured cheekbone and damaged eye socket…
1998-01-26 Canadian Firearms Digest
From: H. Roy Stephens
Subject: Anthony Marr
… As it was reported here, he suffered broken facial bones including damage to the orbit of one of his eyes. That is hardly a “bloody nose”. Furthermore, in light of the fact he WAS the target of verbal threats regarding bodily harm from some of the more brain dead and irresponsible alleged members of the hunting fraternity, it becomes quite obviously newsworthy.
Emotional issue + verbal threats + serious assault = the news. Simple.
Not so simple I'm afraid. His injuries when reported in medical terminology sound impressive indeed. However, they weren't. Moreover he makes it his business to command attention by whatever means to promote his cause. Further more, regardless of who made the threats, (assuming they were in fact made - I'm more of a skeptic each day) there is not a shred of evidence to connect anyone or any group with his misfortune. To convict the hunting fraternity in absentia & by implication is only newsworthy if you don't have a critical bone in your body, and I stand by my assessment of the CBC Afternoon Show interviewer in that regard.
Now that he has been beaten up - whether by a hunter or by somebody involved in the illicit animal parts trade - the yapping of the idiots will come back to haunt hunters. A very tiny minority threatened to physically harm him, and now he has indeed been seriously beaten. How does this make us look as hunters to the non-committed citizen out there - most of whom get their view of the world from the mainstream media? Whoever is responsible did hunters a major disservice.
Just to put it in perspective he was not seriously beaten. As he stated he was punched in the face a couple times and was fine from the neck down. He walked away after the incident. I agree that the yapping will come back to haunt hunters. If you were in his shoes that is exactly what you would want! Again, we do not know if a hunter or poacher was involved. Don't fall into their trap. For all we know he has other enemies. He says he has none, but are you willing to take his word for it?…
That the CBC unwittingly has been aiding Mr. Marr is very much to its discredit. Where is the balanced coverage?
I don't think covering a serious criminal assault after the man was publically (sic) threatened is exactly unbalanced coverage. He claims the assailant said it was for his stand on bear hunting - should CBC feel obligated to not report what a victim says his assailants said?
I listened to the CBC interview and Marr clearly stated that the only thing his assailant said was, “Are you Anthony Marr?” Serious criminal assault? I guess it's all relative. I don't see it that way…
From: Rick Lowe
Subject: Anthony Marr
Re.: “I have watched this thread develop and I am a cynic. I do not think it is beyond the realm of possibility that this was a staged beating to garner sympathy from the public.”
Well, perhaps the doubters are right and I am wrong. Perhaps Marr did arrange to have himself beaten to the point where he suffered facial fractures which had the potential to damage his eyesight, threaten his life, or even kill him.
Maybe there is something for us to learn here - we have much in common. Marr has been fighting a losing battle to have legislation allowing bear hunting thrown out. We have been fighting a losing battle to have legislation which bans and prohibits firearms thrown out. I guess the only question that remains is if we can meet the dedication that Marr has apparently demonstrated in arranging the beating he took.
So... we need a few volunteers willing to undergo a beating severe enough to inflict some skull fractures in hopes of getting a sound byte on the news some night. Hands up please, volunteers... line forms to the right.
Come, come, surely some of us can meet the same level of dedication as that shown by a contemptible, lying anti hunter like Marr. If he can “take the bullet” to the extent he did to further his cause, then it seems that hunters and shooters as dedicated as we are would be willing to just as eagerly step forward for a similar beating. The chances are reasonably good that these injuries will heal with no permanent effects - Marr apparently lucked out, and our volunteers probably will as well...
For myself, I reluctantly admit that I'll stick to letter writing, informing others, legally monkey-wrenching the system, and bugging my MP. I don't have the courage that Marr and our volunteers have, to willingly submit to those kind (sic) of injuries in hopes of getting a one day sound byte in the news.
1998-01-31 Sing Tao Daily (Chinese), global
[The next Year of the Tiger may see no more wild tigers]
… Anthony Marr calls upon all Chinese, Japanese and Korean people around the world to stop using tiger bone, bear gall and rhino horn medicines…
1998-01-31 Ming Pao Daily (Chinese), global
[Tigers may be extinct within one decade]
… Anthony Marr speaks out from the Year of the Tiger booth at Aberdeen Centre…
1998-02-24 The News, Parksville - Qualicum Beach, BC
[WCWC’s Bear Man returns to QB]
Anthony Marr will be in Qualicum Beach next Tuesday, presenting slides of his two recent trips to India…
Marr has stirred up a media storm…
Marr will be “Champions of the Tiger” in Omni-Film’s Champions of the Wild series on Discovery Channel this fall…
1998-02-24 Comox Valley Echo Fireweed
[Saving the Tiger theme for slideshow]
… Please come out to witness the beauty of these magnificent animals and celebrate the ray of hope that Anthony brings us.
1998-02- The Free Press, Nanaimo, BC
["Champion of the Tiger" visits]
The “Champion of the Tiger” will share his story with Nanaimo…
The slideshow starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Maffeo-Sutton auditorium… on March 5…”
* * * * *
I’m enjoying my birthday present to myself. The present is in the form of a low-keyed tiger conservation educational and media outreach road tour that would take me throughout Vancouver Island in a week. Finally a low risk road tour. I invited Christine and Christopher to come with me, and to the glee of all three of us, she accepted.
During the drive down the Island Highway, while Christopher was asleep in the baby seat which is permanent fixture in my car, Christine said, “With this in your car, you can never pick up any women.”
“I don’t care,” I said, quite automatically.
Christine said something to me that moved me to tears. “Tony, I want you to know how much I value your friendship. You have been wonderful to Christopher and a loyal friend to me. I know that when I need you for anything, you would always be there. When mom was dying, you are the one to come to the hospital almost daily to give me support – I know how you dread hospitals! We’ve known each other for more than two decades and have been through many things together, good and bad. I hope that we will always keep the good things in mind and if possible forget the bad ones. I know that I’ve been mean to you once every so often. Please forgive me. I love you and I hope you love me. I know that you love Christopher as you would your own child, and I know he loves you as he would his own father. And, by the way, thank you for this trip.”
All I could do was to take hold of her left hand with my right, steer the car with my left, and let my tears stream unintercepted down my face.
* * * * *
1998-02-27 The Comox Valley Record
[Tigers in danger]
WCWC hopes all to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Tiger with Anthony Marr…
1998-03 Technocracy Digest by Bette Hiebert
[The Year of the Tiger - so, why are they killing them?]
For money, of course…
Anthony Marr… is on his way to challenge the East Asian destroyers in their lairs, to confront these people who are making millions killing these beautiful cats…
Mr. Marr believes that if we commit to the Earth our heart and soul, our children may see a new world more compassionate than ever before. We hope he is right, but as long as there is the almighty dollar, there will be no compassion, and our children will see nothing but barren earth…
1998-03-21 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Judith Lavoie
[Seal hunt protested with blood]
… Anthony Marr… said he does not usually advocate breaking the law. But he is considering withholding his income taxes this year because tax money is being used to subsidize the commercial seal hunt…
[Note: This reflects my personal view only, not that of WCWC, whose policy is to campaign strictly within the limits of the law – Anthony Marr]
1998-04-29 Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, ON by Michael Den Tandt
[RCMP cracks down on trade in endangered animal parts]
Toronto - The RCMP and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources have taken a bite out of this city’s lucrative trade in endangered animal parts, a move conservationists say is long overdue…
Asked whether (Viagra) may take some pressure off endangered species, Mr. Marr said… “If it doesn’t harm the environment, or any species, and it helps someone’s quality of life, then it’s a private matter.”
He added, “I’ve seen one or two people on TV - and they really vouch for it. Including their wives.”
1998-05-13 The Vancouver Courier by Gudrun Will
[Beating no bar to bear pal - Marr back on the road in defense of grizzlies]
Animal conservationist Anthony Marr is anything but intimidated after getting a fist in the face in a West End alley, delivered with the not-so-cryptic message: “Let this be a lesson to you.”
The January attack by an unknown assailant broke his nose, cracked his cheekbone and damaged his right eye socket. Rather than shutting him up, it inspired him to undertake another road trip to stop the grizzly bear hunt in BC…
1998-05-22 Capital News, Kelowna, BC by John McDonald
[Grizzly hunting under fire]
Hunters and anti-hunting activists came face-to-face last night at a forum to discuss a campaign to ban the harvest of grizzly bears…
Veteran anti-bear hunt campaigner Anthony Marr was in Kelowna hosting a multi-media presentation…
1998-05-25 The Daily Courier, Kelowna, BC by Chuck Poulsen
[Protecting the Grizzlies - Project aimed at ending hunt]
Environmentalist Anthony Marr… was in the Okanagan recently as part of a six-week campaign that will take him throughout BC handing out cards that he hopes hunting foes will mail to Premier Glen Clark…
“…Estimates of the number of Grizzlies in BC vary. Marr says independent biologists put the figure at 4,000-7,000, which on the high side was the government’s estimate in 1979.
“In 1980, the government was charged with over-hunting, (but instead of lowering the limit, the government) raised the population estimate to 10,000-13,000,” he said. “The government and the hunters have been playing up the population and playing down the amount of poaching (to justify continued over-hunting)…”…
1998-05-27 The Trail Times by Lana Rodlie
[Anti-bear-hunting campaigner struggles on]
After failure to get enough signatures in 1996 to force a referendum on the hunting of bears in the province, and after having his face seriously rearranged by someone who doesn’t like his politics, Anthony Marr is back on the road, more determined than ever, to put an end to the trophy hunting of the grizzly bear in BC…
“The BC Wildlife Federation and the government have worked close together since the 1940s to... maintain hunting. It is hunting policy for hunters, by hunters,” Marr said…
1998-05-29 Capital News, Kelowna, BC by Judie Steeves
[Grisly details reveal the awful truth about bear attacks]
… In October 1995, this community was shocked by the deaths of a well-liked Gorman Brothers’ Lumber employee and his buddy who were both killed by a grizzly bear near Radium Hot Spring while they were hunting.
Yet, Anthony Marr… was in town last week calling for a ban on grizzly bear hunting…
1998-05-30 The Daily Courier, Kelowna, BC by C.W. Holford
[Hunt controls poaching]
To the editor:
It is apparent that Anthony Marr has embarked on another pilgrimage to ensure an ample supply of grizzly bear parts for his countrymen’s medicinal chest…
Though it does generate a great wealth for the few that Marr and his associates seem to be cohesive with, poaching bears generates little if any tax revenue…
1998-06-05 West Kootenay Weekender, Nelson, BC by Darren Davidson
[Profile: Conservationist Anthony Marr bares his stripes]
Being beaten for what you believe in is nothing exceptionally shocking for animal conservationist Anthony Marr…
When asked if he saw being beaten up as a personal sacrifice, Mar said, “No. It’s a professional risk. It just comes with the job.”…
… In 1996, Marr and WCWC launched one of the most high profile animal conservation crusades Canada has ever seen…
DD: “Your story is certainly one of personal conviction.”
AM: “Well, I have a lot of respect for children. When young children, in elementary school, tell me they think killing animals for fun is wrong, I feel an obligation to champion their cause, because they cannot yet speak for themselves. That is a very powerful motivation for me… I also have my own personal feelings, of course… I do love these animals that they kill.”
1998-06-07 The Vancouver Courier by Gudrun Will
[Tiger volunteers paint mural to save species]
On a scalding Wednesday afternoon, underwear clad painters dab tropical sunset colours on the front wall of downtown Davie Street hangout DV8. The artists are creating a tiger mural in preparation for a silent art auction to help save the species.
... Organizer Tracy Zuber, a tiny 29-year-old in black sports bra and plaid shorts, is a self-professed tiger fanatic. Images of the wild animal cover her apartment walls. “They're the personification of beauty, power and grace. They're a figurehead of primal life power,” said Zuber.
Her preferred felines, however, are also a rapidly dwindling species; little more than 4,000 are left in the wild, and two are killed per day. Zuber was inspired to raise funds to slow down the tiger's beeline to extinction while participating in the Save-the-Tiger Walk last fall with her daughter Fija. The Year of the Tiger seemed an appropriate time to make an effort, she says...
… conservationist Anthony Marr will present a slideshow that night…
1998-06-14 Capital News Weekend Close-Up by Judie Steeves
[Loaded for bear - Bear hunting under fire]
… Anthony Marr… says that bear-watching eco-tourism can create more jobs and revenue than bear hunting…
1998-06-19 Kamloops Daily News
[Group asks public to support ban on grizzly bear hunts in BC]
Environmentalists will try again to get a ban on grizzly bear hunting in BC, this time by going straight to the people.
Anthony Marr said that the latest campaign weapon is a “do it yourself postcard open poll”.
The WCWC will distribute thousands of postcards across BC and Canada, allowing people to say what they think about grizzly bear hunting. The cards allow both hunters and environmentalists to express their opinions.
The “3-part-post-cards” - picturing a live grizzly bear on one part, and a dead one with a grinning hunter on another - are addressed to Premier Glen Clark and the BC legislature…
* * * * *
Went hiking up Lynn Headwaters Park along the river with Christine’s friends Tasha and Wilhelmina, and their friends Deborah, Ruth and Miriam – at their invitation. It was a beautiful hike, but I didn’t feel comfortable with it, still don’t. The reason for my discomfort is that Christine was not invited. Christine had already complained that she had been excluded a few times before, due to her needing to bring Christopher, which hampered their progress. I was also slightly put off by their excluding Christine on account of Christopher, but they all but insisted that I went, so I did.
I didn’t mention the hike to Christine afterwards, not wanting her to again feel left out. Also, if she found out about her exclusion, it should be from Tasha and Wilhelmina, not from me. Further, if I told her and she went to them about it, it would make me look as if I was telling on them. All in all, I was put in a very awkward position.
The worst thing is that I know that she will find out about it sooner or later, and she would then feel that I “lied” to her. With Christine, sometimes there is just no winning.
Already, something traumatic has happened to me, which will impact on Christopher, though he does not yet know it. Things have not been going well with Christine over the last few months. Mostly, it had to do with our different ways of relating to Christopher, and inevitably, when our ways crossed, there was conflict. Just little things, but Christine is one who holds grudges for ages, which are therefore cumulative.
Once, for example, after Christopher had gone to bed and Christine and I were having tea in the kitchen, Christopher came running down and cried that there was a ghost in his closet. Both of us brought him back to his bed and tucked him back in. But our ways then diverged. Christine went to the closet and shouted into it. “Go away, you nasty ghost! Don’t you dare scare my little boy!” On my part, I held his hands and stroked his hair and said softly to him, “Christopher, there is no ghost. It is only a little mouse. It is more scared of you than you are of it.” Christine heard what I said and shot me daggers.
Another time, when I went out to Christine’s car to fetch something for her, I noticed that she had wrapped the lap belt around the outside front of Christopher’s car seat near the bottom instead of through the frame of the seat near the back. I tested it by pulling the top of the car seat forward, and of course the whole seat came tumbling out of the restraint. I could have just reset the lap belt through the frame of the seat the way it is supposed to be, but I wanted to show Christine how it should be done so she does it properly next time. It’s a matter of life and death and I could not just shrug it off as I often do with trivial matters, but I did not relish correcting her. Still I went back into her house and asked her to come out and showed her the whole thing, starting with the tumbling test. She took everything in, and reset the belt herself. But then, the last thing that happened indicated that another hell-to-pay is in the offing. She turned to Christopher who was there watching and said cuttingly, “Well, don’t you know that Uncle Tony is always right?!”
Another time, I went visiting and did not see Christopher. So I asked Christine where he was. Christine said that he had been confined to his room for something that he had done. I asked what he had done and she told me. Hearing my voice, Christopher called my name. I was about to answer when Christine hushed me. Christopher called me again, and again. My heart went to him. Without further hesitation, I went upstairs, opened his bedroom door and went in. He was crying. I held his shoulder and soft talked to him, telling him that what he did was wrong and asked him if he was sorry for what he had done. He said he was. I asked him if he was willing to apologize to mommy. He said yes. So I took him in my arms and carried him downstairs. I took him to Christine and he very sincerely apologized, saying that he was wrong for what he had done, and that he would never do it again. But Christine wasn’t listening. She ordered him back upstairs, and ordered me to leave. It was only after I had begun driving back home that I realized the magnitude of my error. But again, it was too late.
Yet another time, as soon as I entered their house, I heard Christopher screaming from the top of the stairs, “NO, MOMMY! DON’T HIT ME WITH THE WOODEN SPOON ANY MORE! I WON’T DO IT AGAIN!” Christine was standing at the bottom of the stairs, with the wooden spoon in her hand, held in a threatening manner. I saw red and without thinking, grab the spoon and took it from her hand. She did not say anything for the moment, but again, I knew that irreparable damage had been done. Except this time I was not in the least sorry for what I did.
And then, several days ago, an interim verdict did come down. Without preamble or explanation, Christine unilaterally cut down my visiting frequency from four days a week to twice a week. There was and is nothing I could and can do about it. Worse, knowing Christine, the verdict is irreversible. It is a huge loss to both Christopher and me.
When I told Jeanine about this devastating development, she shook her head and said, “She’s a power monger and a control freak. Other single moms would just love to have a man like you for their sons, not a wimpy yes-man, and take some pain to work out these minor differences. How sad, especially for Christopher.”
“I don’t remember if I’ve already told you, but once, when I said that I would do all I could to ‘help her raise Christopher’, she almost tore my head off. That was not long after she watched that infamous episode of Murphy Brown on TV, you know, the one where she deliberately got herself pregnant, kicked out the man, to raise the child by herself.”
“Just because she could.”
“Or her belief that women should.”
“Now I understand,” sighed Jeanine, who is not one to mince words. “How doubly sad. A woman of low self-esteem using her own child to boost for her big but sagging ego.”
* * * * *
June 29, 1998
I took Christopher out by myself today. Christine decided to stay home for a break. First, we went “playground cruising”, that is, we just drove around a certain neighbourhood looking for playgrounds, and whenever we came across a half decent one, we’d stop and play there for awhile, then move on.
It is always a great joy to see him at play. Sometimes, one of the slides would be a little too high and intimidating for him, but he would come down it anyway, as long as I promise to catch him at the bottom. His trust for me is total. As long as I’m there with him, he’d feel that nothing bad could happen to him. His laughter of glee is music to my ears.
After an hour or so of that, we went for a walk at Coquitlam River. The huckleberries and blackberries were ripe for the picking. Christopher and I stuffed ourselves with them. After some time, I said to him, “Now Christopher, you’ve had lots of berries. Why don’t you take some home for mommy? She’d really like that.”
He said with a slight child’s grimace, “I don’t want to, Uncle Tony. I like you more than mommy. She is mean to me.”
I was stunned. After a moment, I said to him, “Christopher, mommy loves you very much. It’s just that she has to make sure you don’t do wrong things, and when you do, she has to make sure you don’t do them again.”
“I don’t do wrong things with you, do I, Uncle Tony?” he said, plaintively.
“No, you don’t Christopher, but you don’t live with me either.”
He thought about it for a bit, then said, “Okay, Uncle Tony.” Then, he began picking berries and putting them into the plastic bag I gave him.
When we got home, he ran out of my car and dashed excitedly into the house and shouted, “Mommy, mommy, I picked some berries for you!” Christine was delighted.
At dinner time, as is almost always the case, I took them out to our favourite Chinese restaurant, for a scrumptuous dinner. I always pay, since Christine is currently a welfare mom, and she does sometimes “feed” me. And though Christine seldom verbally thanks me, her obvious enjoyment of the dishes is thanks enough for me. Plus, there are two large saltwater tropical fish tanks there with some very exotic looking fish. Christopher always looks forward to going there and saying hi to his favourite “Mr. Eel.”
After Christopher had gone to bed, I made another big mistake. I told Christine about the conversation between Christopher and me, thinking that she ought to know what Christopher felt about the way she dealt with him, so that she might adjust her behavior accordingly to prevent damaging Christopher’s love for her. But even before I had finished, I saw her face visibly darken. At once, I knew what that meant. I know her well enough I should have known the way she would process the information. Worse, I felt I had betrayed Christopher’s confidence. But again, it was too late.
I’ll be away again for a whole month or more. I must do some fence mending before I leave.
* * * * *
1998-07-03 The Globe and Mail (national)
[Man set on saving grizzlies]
Vancouver - Anthony Marr is renewing his effort to ban grizzly bear hunting in BC despite a gruesome beating by an alleged critic that left him with a broken nose and eye socket.
The campaigner… hit the road yesterday to visit 30 BC communities to fire up support for a bear-hunt ban campaign that has been criticized by hunters…
1998-07-09-4 The Sun, Vernon, BC
[Activist wants bear hunting banned]
The Canadian grizzly bear population should be glad they have a person like Anthony Marr on their side…
During his 30 city tour… Marr is urging people to sign postcards with an unnerving photo of a dead grizzly bear on its cover…
Marr said over 25,000 of the cards have already been sent out and plans to circulate more than 200,000 by the time he is done his trip…
Canada is seen as a very forward thinking country internationally, but Marr said this country is lagging behind many Third World countries in terms of trophy hunting… The country really does not deserve its pro-environmental reputation, and it’s not a great country of spiritual development until we’ve got rid of trophy hunting.”
1998-07-14-2 Penticton Herald by Donna Henningson
[Committee targeting grizzly hunt]
Ask Anthony Marr where the light at the end of the tunnel is in his fight to stop the grizzly bear hunt in BC.
“The end of the tunnel is when the grizzly hunt is banned,” said the wildlife campaigner…
1998-07-15-3 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Robert Koopmans
[Bleak future seen for grizzly]
Poaching, habitat loss and trophy hunting will be the downfall of BC’s grizzly bears, environmentalist Anthony Marr told a small group of people Tuesday night…
He frequently compared the grizzly to tigers in India. In the space of a few decades, tiger populations have plummeted from more than 50,000 to virtual extinction. Marr said BC needs to look at the tigers and take steps to prevent a similar catastrophe with the grizzlies.
One man in the audience challenged Marr on his statements about hunters’ ethics. Marr asked the man why he would want to kill a grizzly anyway…
1998-07-17-5 Comox Valley Record
[Grizzly defender speaks]
Anthony Marr… is returning to the Comox Valley on Thursday July 23 at 7 p.m. at the Lower Native Sons Hall…
This man has endured the threats and harassment of hunters across BC, and survived a back alley attack in January of this year, all on account of his opposition to recreational hunting of bears…
1998-07-18-6 The Daily News, Kamloops, BC by Mel Rothenburger
[Saving BC’s grizzly bears a daunting task]
Anthony Marr has one of the toughest challenges on earth. In a world that values the preservation of cultural traditions, he is trying to erase one of the most powerful. In the process, he hopes to save several major animal species from extinction.
An ambitious goal to say the least. Despite devoting himself to it full time for the past several years, he has obtained only limited success. But that hasn’t discouraged him.
Marr became a fairly well known media figure two years ago (and a despised one among recreational hunters) when he championed an attempt to ban all bear hunting in BC. He and WCWC failed… but he’s back at it with a brand new strategy…
I doubt that any policy will be changed this time either, but I admire Marr’s determination…
He has a plan to pose as a wealthy Chinese businessman and secretly video-tape the killing of a captive bear at a Korean “bear banquet”, “where they sometimes lower a bear in a cage on to a bed of hot coal until their paws are cooked, for maximum freshness and perhaps extreme entertainment,” said Marr.
It’s a long way from China or Taiwan or Korea to the backwoods of BC where trophy hunting takes place, but Marr is convinced that all of the atrocities against bears must be dealt with together…
That of course is where domestic opposition comes in…
A meeting here during the referendum campaign brought out some serious heckling. Almost disappointingly, there was little of that this time around. A debate with hunters is always fun, and often productive, and Marr enjoys it…
Anthony Marr has a huge job ahead of him, and I hope he will one day succeed.
It is strange to me that those who kill animals for entertainment control wildlife policy in this province, rather than those who want to keep them alive. If you doubt that, allow me to point out that the BC Wildlife Federation, which is an organization of hunters, proposed to Environment Minister Cathy McGregor earlier this year that non-hunters should have to buy a license to use the woods.
She said she will seriously look into it.
1998-07-21-2 Comox Valley Echo
[Bear activist speaks here Thursday]
… Local organizer Ruth Masters finds any killing of bears “atrocious” and reminds that one bear is poached for every one legally killed. “And the bears don’t know if the guy pulling the trigger had a license or not. They are still dead.”…
1998-07-24-5 Campbell River Mirror by Sharon Bennett
[Bear activist hits the road again]
… The attack only stoked Marr’s fiery passion to save the grizzly, and for the month of July he’s touring the province to warn the public of the grizzly’s imminent demise.
… He recounts the story of a South Korean man who was caught in possession of 88 bear gall bladders and four times as many paws - a street value of about $500,000 US… He was fined CDN$3,500, roughly the same worth as one gall bladder.
Marr says he questioned the judge about why the fine was so low, and admitted the judge’s argument makes sense… The trophy hunt is driven by European cultural tradition, the judge said, and the medicinal hunt is driven by Asian cultural tradition. Therefore, Marr says, the judge decided it would be wrong to punish one culture’s tradition while the other culture’s tradition is still legal…
1998-07-24-5 The News Weekender, Parksville by Jeff Vircoe
[Bearing the controversial issue to QB]
He’s been beaten up for his opinions. He’s been called a turncoat by his own people. And he may be the Grizzly bear’s best friend… A one-man wrecking crew for those who believe hunting Grizzlies is okay, Marr’s controversial stance… has irritated countless hunting enthusiasts…
When hunters say that (bears will turn aggressive if not hunted), Marr says studies in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks show that bears do not get more aggressive merely because they are protected…
1998-07-29-3 Comox Valley Record by Karen Kwan
[Speaker brings shocking story]
The images are disturbing.
On the parched ground, many elephants lie crumpled, their tusks removed, their trunks just bloody stumps where they have been sawed off.
A live tiger is strung upside down in a cage, hanging by his spread-eagled limbs, while people peered between the bars, gawking.
Deep in the woods, a bear cub, who had scrambled up a tree to get away from poachers, was shot four times with arrows…
These scenes weren’t made-in-Hollywood horror stories, but are all too real - some of it happening right here in BC, according to animal conservationist Anthony Marr… who was in Courtenay Thursday evening…
1998-07-30-4 Nanaimo Daily News
[Bear essentials aired at debate]
When environmentalist Anthony Marr brought his campaign to ban grizzly bear hunting to Nanaimo, his audience listened. Not everyone in the Beban Park meeting room Tuesday night agreed with him, but they all paid attention.
Bob Morris, past-president of the BC Wildlife Federation, and Bill Derby, vice-president of the Nanaimo Fish and Game Protection Association, were two of a party of hunters who came to hear what Marr had to say about bear hunting. And to challenge his conclusions.
Morris didn’t trust Marr’s motives, or those of WCWC. “Basically their goal is to try and ban hunting altogether, using the grizzly bear as an icon.”
Marr replied that that would be a glorious quest, but one too distant for his remaining life span.
Derby said the grizzly bear hunt is “very tightly controlled”, taking fewer bears than die as road kill. Morris said there was no need to ban the hunt, as the grizzly population is rising. Marr replied that grizzly bear hunt victims number about 300, higher than the road kill number, and that even according to the BC government, the grizzly bear population is decreasing in the long run.
Derby said banning hunting might lead to more bears getting killed, because as they got more accustomed to being around people, they would get bolder.
Marr answered that he’s heard all these arguments before. There was no evidence that stopping the hunt would make the bears more dangerous, such as in the Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, where grizzly hunting is not allowed…
Marr’s campaign has won him a variety of enemies…
1998-07-31-5 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Cindy E. Harnett
[Crusade against grizzly hunt reaches Victoria]
Anthony Marr’s renewed campaign to ban grizzly bear hunting will take the high, rocky road to Victoria for a slideshow tonight at 7:30 p.m. in University of Victoria’s law building and a rally at the legislature on Saturday… This stop is one of the last in a month-long, province-wide tour…
Marr’s visits are known to spark fiery debates between hunters and non-hunters…
On a moral standpoint, Marr said this week, “… The moral reason alone… is big enough to ban hunting for entertainment and ego.”
But BC Wildlife Federation immediate past-president John Holdstock said morality has nothing to do with hunting…
1998-07-31-5 The Victoria News by Stephanie Coombs
[Rally against bear hunt targets legislature]
… “The grizzly population is decreasing over the long term - slowly over the last 200 years - but we can’t say by how much at present,” says Nancy Bircher, the director of the wildlife branch at the ministry…
Bircher says about 300 Grizzlies are legally killed each year by people with licenses, another 50 are termed “nuisance kills” - due to conflict with humans - and about 90 die as unreported kills or from poachers.
“The poaching figure is absolutely unfounded and hugely at odds with what international authorities report,” says Marr. “They estimate a continental average of one bear poached for every bear legally hunted. They also estimate that BC is among the most poached amongst all the North American states and provinces. According to this, the poached/hunted ratio should be one or two to one, not one to three or four.”
He says the province is intentionally skewing the facts to favour hunters.
“They project as high a population number and as low a poaching number as possible to give the general public the impression there are so many grizzlies that not only can they be hunted, but that they should be hunted…”
1998-08-02-7 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Cindy E. Harnett
[Grizzlies attract 150 supporters at rally]
… Main speakers included WCWC founder Paul George and wildlife campaigner Anthony Marr. Many in the audience had helped to gather signatures for WCWC’s 1996 campaign in which about 90,000 signatures were obtained to save BC’s bears.
At that time, Environment Minister Cathy McGregor did not act on any of the organization’s three requests: to stop bear hunting, to further protect bear habitat or to increase fines for poachers. The minister re-stated her commitment to hunters last week.
“Trophy hunting is a concern to some British Columbians, but there are real economic benefits to hunting around the province. In the interior, hunting is very much a way of life and the way in which some areas of our province gain economic opportunity,” she said…
Marr says there are (possibly as few as) 4,000 to 7,000 grizzlies left. He expects in 20-30 years, they will be extirpated from almost all of southern and central BC if no action is taken.
1998-08-17-1 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Anthony Marr
… In spite of our hard work and publicity, and all the polls showing that a vast majority of British Columbians feel likewise about our cause, only about 150 people came to our demonstration against grizzly bear hunting in BC, but same evening, same place, there was a fireworks display, and over 40,000 people showed up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Apathy is our worst enemy…
* * * * *
August 22, 1992
I’m on another 3-week road tour, but this time a nonconfrontational one – to merely network with local environmentalists over coffee. I brought Christine and Christopher for the first week of the trip as a treat. We met up with my friends Diana and Alex, and their children Crystal and Dylan who were then touring eastern BC, and spent the weekend with them at Banff and Lake Louise in the Albertan Rockies. We all had a whale of a time, including a good splashing in a large hot spring. After that, we went our separate ways. Christine, Christopher and I spent the night at Hinton, Alberta, where, the following morning, they took a “choo choo train” back to Vancouver.
Christopher, by now a seasoned road tourer, took to car traveling very well. The only glitch was shortly before we arrived at Hinton. We were about 20 km from Hinton when he woke up and began getting restless in the car seat. It was well past his bedtime. Christine tried to get him to go to sleep, but he just wouldn’t, or couldn’t. Seeing that 20 km at highway speed would take only 10 minutes, and that if he stayed awake, he’d be fatigued enough to fall asleep right away as soon as we hit the beds, so I said, “Okay, Christopher, you can just stay awake.” But again, as soon as I said it, I knew I had made another mistake, for which I would again have to pay in some way some time in the future.
And yet another mishap with consequences occurred in Banff, which would not be for another woman than Christine. I came across a beautifully made model of a brontosaurus in a toy store. So I bought it for Christopher. He loved it and brought out his other three small dinosaurs Christine gave him a few weeks ago that Christopher had brought with him. He arranged them on the motel table. “Look Uncle Tony, mommy dinosaur and baby dinosaurs.” Christine should be pleased, but she was obviously not. She did not show the big dinosaur one smidgeon of appreciation or affection. Her dark look said, “You have again shown me up,” referring to the big dinosaur’s being more expensive than the three little dinosaurs combined.
How do I deal with all these – syndromes?
* * * * *
1998-09-02-3 The Japan Times by Françoise Giovannangeli
[An unbearable prospect - a Canadian icon faces new and growing threats]
… “Most countries have banned trophy hunting of grizzlies - all except Canada, Russia and the US state of Alaska,” said Anthony Marr. “That is why so many foreign hunters are coming to Canada - because they can’t do it in their own countries where the brown bear has become endangered or been wiped out. It’s the Canadian grizzly that is soaking up and absorbing the pressure of trophy hunting lust from around the world as well as the profit lust of guide-outfitters and poachers,” he said….
If the pace keeps up, Marr says, the future does not bode well for North American bears. “Asiatic bears were not endangered a few decades ago. Today, they have been hunted to the verge of extinction by the demands of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and Singapore. The Chinese economy is improving fast, and pretty soon, there will be a huge middle class. I believe that at that point, there will be a jump in demand for bear galls far in excess of the current already high level. It may have already started. And the target will be the North American bears this time around.”…
1998-09 The Vancouver Sun
[Champions return to Discovery]
“It took the tiger 10 million years to evolve to its present state of magnificence,” says Anthony Marr, “but less than one century to fall to the brink of extinction. This, sadly, is the way of humans.”
The Chinese-born Canadian is featured in the Bengal Tiger of India episode of the award-winning TV documentary series Champions of the Wild, now in its second season on Discovery Channel…
Each episode highlights the efforts of a particular conservationist, from Clark Lungren’s work in the Nazinga Game Reserve, airing October 5, to Marr’s multi-faceted campaign to protect the tiger on October 12…
Champions of the Wild was produced by Omni Film Productions, in association with the National Film Board, BC Film, and the Discovery Channel, with the participation of Telefilm and the Cable Production Fund.
1998-09-14-1 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Cindy E. Harnett
[Seaborne protest in native whaling controversy]
… “I respect native rights, but we human beings are past the point where we need to kill these beings to survive…,” Marr said… “Tradition to me, which is so sacred to so many people, is actually a dirty word, because it stands in the way of the evolution of the human spirit.”
The World Council of Whalers, a 20 country group, was put together two years ago to ready people for hunts all over the world. The Makah have accused animal-rights activists of trying to “put their culture into a museum.”
Marr said the reverse is true. “A living culture evolves with the times and is not stuck in the past. If they want to go into the past and maintain the past status quo, they are putting themselves into a museum.”
1998-09-18-5 The Globe and Mail, national by Celia Sankar
[BC won’t end annual grizzly hunt; minister says no harm done to bear population]
The BC government is not about to stop the province’s annual grizzly-bear hunt, despite criticism from environmentalists and dissent from one of its own biologists…
A senior habitat biologist with the BC Ministry of Environment said hunting as administered by the province “has the potential to drive grizzly bear populations dangerously close to extinct. There is no ecological, biological or social justification for continuing to hunt grizzly bears,” Dionys de Leeuw wrote in a private paper widely distributed to wildlife officials within the ministry April.
Mr. De Leeuw argued that the system for issuing licenses for bear hunting “is based on unconfirmed population estimates for grizzly bears” that “substantially overestimate bear abundance.”
Mr. De Leeuw’s paper, copies of which were (confiscated) by ministry officials, was leaked yesterday by the WCWC.
“The Canadian authorities list the grizzly as a vulnerable species and we should not allow it to cross the line and become endangered. We think it is quite close right now,” Anthony Marr said.
Mr. De Leeuw described as “an injustice in the extreme” the situation where the interest of “an infinitesimally small” number of trophy hunters continue to be protected by the government while those who oppose the activity are ignored…
Bengal Tigers. (Champions of the Wild Series, 18).
Andrew Gardner (Director), Christian Bruyere (Producer), Michael Chechik (Executive Producer). National Film Board of Canada, 1998. 25 min., 30 sec. Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up. Review by Susan Fonseca.
This video opens with a carefully edited scene of a Bengal Tiger patiently stalking and then attacking its prey. The plight of the tiger in India is very serious. At the turn of the century, there were over 100,000 tigers. This number quickly diminished to 30,000 by the 1940's due to the trophy hunting which was a national sport. Conservationist Anthony Marr has championed the cause of the tiger for two reasons. He believes that “if the tiger is gone from this land, the land will have lost its soul.” He also understands that one of the greatest threats to the tiger's survival today is the huge Chinese market for tiger parts. A dead tiger is worth $100,000 in China where it is believed that, next to the mythical dragon, the tiger is the most powerful animal. Through Chinese medicines, healers use tiger parts to transfer that power to humans. Being Chinese himself, Marr believes that he may have a greater impact.
The video contains brilliant camera work which captures the power and beauty of the tiger. The sound track echoes the India countryside by using instruments native to the land. The narration is clear and easily understood. Many of the scenes are very graphic, showing tigers tearing apart gazelles or revealing hunters and poachers destroying the tiger for its pelt or bones. These scenes are balanced, however, by the joy of a playful young kitten or a delightful scene that allows the viewer to watch as a very hot tiger gingerly and slowly sinks into a cool pond of water.
Marr has targeted children as one of the avenues of support for these endangered creatures. This goal will probably be most effective with the children in India, but the biggest obstacle will be the poor Indian villagers who have been displaced without compensation so that the government can create sanctuaries for the tiger. Incentives are now being created that will offer these people a better life if they will help to save these endangered animals.
Bengal Tigers has aired on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. The video also includes previewing questions and post-viewing questions in addition to several web sites. The video would support a study of endangered animals and also could offer many opportunities for the students to problem solve and to create their own solutions.
Susan Fonseca is a teacher-librarian at Glenwood School in St. Vital School Division in Winnipeg, MB.
1998-10-02 Victoria News by Bev Wake
[Grizzly population overestimated]
… In Victoria again last week, Marr looked intent, yet weary, as he held up the leaked document (by Dionys de Leeuw - see 1998-09-1805 Global and Mail article)…
The document backs Marr’s belief that the ministry has overestimated BC’s grizzly bear population…
“We must begin to protect our bears today,” Marr says. “Our objective is to prevent them from becoming endangered… It’s a vicious spiral… It is a double-edged sword for a species to be declared endangered, because it drives up the black market value, thus encouraging more poaching. We can see that cloud on the horizon,” he says…
Part of the problem, he says, is that BC’s hunting policy is set by three bodies - the provincial Environment Ministry, the BC Wildlife Federation and the BC Guide-Outfitters’ Association, all of which, Marr charges, has vested interests in hunting.
Again, de Leeuw’s report backs Marr up, saying “BC’s decision regarding grizzly bear allocation have almost exclusively accommodated the interests of trophy hunters, who make up less than one tenth of one percent of the people.”
1998-10-05 Monday magazine by Ross Crockford
[Splendor Sine Occasu]
…Saturday morning, I went down to the legislature grounds to hear a speech by Anthony Marr…
I asked Marr whether it wouldn’t be better to allow limited trophy hunting, as they’ve done with elephants in South Africa, and put thousands of dollars in taxes on the licenses and then plow them into regional projects… Marr replied that grizzly viewing was a better option. He knows of a lodge in Knight Inlet that takes foreign tourists to watch bears feeding on salmon, and charges them $700 a day, and employs 22 people. The only problem is that hunters gun down the bears the moment they step out of the tiny protected area around the salmon stream, and the tourists get very upset. The old economy and the new one aren’t mixing very well…
1998-10-05-1 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Richard Watts
[Greenpeace neutral on whaling]
Greenpeace - which made its name battling to save whales from being hunted to extinction - is now sitting firmly on the fence over the Makah hunt…
John Vanderhoeven, director of field operations for the provincial SPCA, said the group is opposed to the inhumane killing of any creature… “I’m not sure how a person could bring about the humane death of a whale,” said Vanderhoeven.
Anthony Marr… said, “We oppose killing whales, whether for cultural or economic reasons, if only on account of the inevitable cruelty.”
And he says his group is appalled by the Canadian government’s decision to allow the Makah to pursue a wounded whale into Canadian waters to finish it off.
Marr says the Canadian position was like a wounded man coming to your door for help, “and you invite the assailant in to finish the job.”
Meanwhile the Nuu-Cha-Nulth Indians of southwest Vancouver Island, who include the Washington Makah among their members, say the hunt is justified and are supporting the Makah hunters…
1998-10-06-2 Penticton Harold by Anthony Marr
[Whale’s rights come first]
I respect aboriginal rights, but I respect even more the right of whales to live, and live in peace and harmony with humans…
The Pacific Grey whales annually migrate up and down the North American coast… have been living in peace and harmony with humans for more than 70 years. They’ve come to enjoy human company and allow us the privilege of touching them.
If now a few humans begin to kill them, for any reason, I would consider our species as a whole to be betraying the sacred trust established with another sentient species. A few whales will lose their lives, but Homo sapiens will lose its humanity…
1998-10-09-5 The Vancouver Sun by Anthony Marr
[Whales shouldn’t be on the sushi menu]
… The Japanese and Norwegians are strong backers of the Makah’s “right” to kill whales. They have given at least US$10,000 for the Makah’s whaling campaign.
These pirate whaling nations are not acting out of interest in the Makah as a people or respect for aboriginal rights. They are using them as a can opener to restart whaling for “cultural need”. Once the Makah succeed in taking their first whale, the Japanese and Norwegians can then claim the right to whale for “cultural needs” of their own.
Tom Happynook, a Nuu-Cha-Nulth relative of the Makah and head of the World Council of whalers, say the Japanese are justified in continuing to kill whales and dolphins for so-called “scientific” reasons in the face of a global whaling ban by IWC. Maybe he can tell me how much science is involved in consuming a plate of whale sushi…
1998-10-11-7 The Province, Vancouver by Jonathan McDonald
[Species run for their lives]
Premier - Champions of the Wild - Mondays at 6 and 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.
… this 13-part series is only partly about the animals who are running for their lives. It’s mainly about the people - Canadians by and large - who are doing whatever they can to reverse increasingly hopeless situations.
“It’s vital,” says Anthony Marr, a Vancouverite who heads the Tigers Forever campaign and is the subject of “Bengal Tigers of India”, which premiers Monday night on Discovery Channel. “The tiger is an icon of wildlife conservation. It is one of the world’s most admired and also most endangered animals. If it falls extinct, the whole global conservation effort will lose steam, and the world will lose an immeasurable amount of beauty.”
Marr is not kidding. Seeing the Bengal tiger sleep, prowl and hunt is wondrous. Seeing the work of poachers - tiger skins and medicines - is no less than horrifying and offensive. And seeing Marr sit down in an Indian village to tell the children about the beauty of the tiger - an animal, he urges, that deserves to be on Earth - is the perfect reflection of Canadians’ work around the globe.
“They’re extremely dedicated,” says Chris Bruyere, Champion’s producer… “Often, these are people who don’t believe there’s such a thing as fighting a losing battle.”…
1998-10-11-7 Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global
[Chinese campaigner saving 4,000 remaining wild tigers]
The WCWC set up booth at the Vancouver Public Library Saturday to publicize tiger conservation, and will lead the Save-the-Tiger Walk at Stanley Park next Saturday…
Anthony Marr says that of the original 8 subspecies of tigers, only 5 remain, totaling no more than 4 or 5 thousand, of which two die daily to poaching and other causes. At this rate, there will be no tigers left to celebrate the next Year of the Tiger…
1998-10-18-7 Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global
[100 walk to save 4,000 tigers]
… Last year’s Save-the-Tiger Walk brought out 2,000 people and raised almost $20,000 for tiger conservation. Unfortunately, this year’s Walk picked the worse possible time weatherwise. Only 100 people showed up to brave the heavy rain and high winds…
1998-10-22-4 Nelson Daily News by Anthony Marr
[Rights of whales must supersede aboriginal rights]
… I have no doubt that whales are not only sentient but intelligent. Even small cetaceans like dolphins have brains larger and more convoluted than ours. They have sophisticated social and behavioral patterns. They have complex languages and different Orca pods have different dialects. The songs of the humpback changes from year to year… We may freely give each other the right to kill these highly advanced beings, but in the high scheme of things, we have no right to give such rights to anyone…
… I urge all to examine their own traditions and voluntarily shed those elements within them that are no longer consistent with today’s environmental and humane principles. I ask those within the aboriginal communities to follow the lead of the Makah’s Alberta Thompson to voluntarily forego the whale-killing element of their tradition.
Finally, I must make one thing clear. I am against killing whales, period, for any reason, by anyone, be they Japanese, Norwegian, Russian or Makah.
1998-11-07 Toronto Sun by Michael Clement
[Animal Parts illegally sold here: activist]
A west-coast wildlife activist alleges he purchased three bottles containing parts of endangered species, being sold illegally in a store in Toronto’s Chinatown yesterday…
Marr asked reporters to accompany him to the Po Chi Tong Chinese pharmacy on Dundas St. W. yesterday where he purchased the three bottles. The bottles of pills purportedly contained bear gall bladder secretion, possibly from the endangered Asiatic Black bear, secretions from the musk gland of the endangered Musk Deer, and tiger bone, possibly from the endangered Bengal or Siberian Tiger, Marr said.
“Internationally, endangered species are totally forbidden to be traded, alive or dead, in whole or part,” he said, adding that in June 1996 Ottawa enacted laws “forbidding the sale of anything containing endangered species parts.”
“The point of this exercise is to prove that the law is not being effectively enforced.”…
* * * * *
1998-11-26-4 Nelson Daily News by Bob Hall
[Kids in the tiger’s grasp]
Anthony Marr… is touring area schools this week promoting the Save-the-Tiger campaign. With the help of the Nelson Youth Environmental Group who put on a play of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax followed by Marr’s slideshow… Wednesday morning, Marr talked to Hume Elementary School students in front of a 12 foot high, 50 feet long inflatable tiger prop. To bring further attention to the issue there will be a Save-the-Tiger Walk-a-thon this Saturday at Lakeside Park starting at 11 a.m. For more information contact the Nelson Eco-Centre.
1998-12-02-3 Trail Daily News by Lana Rodlie
[WCWC shares extinction fears with area students]
… Bring the message about diminishing tigers to area schools, Anthony Marr is hoping to save the tiger, one child at a time…
Pointing out how every living thing affect the life of something else, he asked the children, “How many cows do you think live in India? Would you believe 350-600 million? That is more than the American and Canadian human populations combined.
“Cows eat grass. Deer eat grass. Tigers eat deer. If the cows eat up all the grass, what do you think will happen to the deer, and the tiger?…
“Still, if you go into an Indian national park, you’re not allowed to touch anything, take anything, not even pick a blade of grass. But would you believe that in a BC park, you are allowed to kill grizzly bears?”
* * * * *
Christmas Day, 1998. Christopher’s third. Christine invited me to stay overnight to be there when Christopher opens his presents first thing in the morning. A very family affair, just the three of us. Of course there would be visits by friends and relatives, but those would come later. In the morning, there would be just Christopher, Mommy and Uncle Tony. The three of us hugged together.
I wonder what his daddy is doing today. There is nothing from him among the presents. Is he still alive? If so, what is he doing? What is he living for?
One thing has been bothering me lately. Since more than a month ago, the Christmas hype has disturbed Christopher’s daily order and routine so much that he has become somewhat unruly. As a result, most of the time when I was visiting (only twice a week since Christine’s June verdict) or while on the phone with Christine, I’ve often been pained to hear Christine yelling at him to stop doing whatever he was doing, and at times screaming at him about how bad he was. I know that living with a three-year-old around the clock, 24/7, must be taxing, so I haven’t said anything, but I’ve been thinking:
One, that you can’t teach a child not to scream by screaming at him, and
Two, that telling me I’m a bad man would not hurt me since I know I’m not, but telling a three-year-old that he’s bad, especially repeatedly, will convince him that he indeed is. This would then impact negatively on his self-image and self-esteem.
And I have noticed another thing. Christine has a way to talking condescendingly to and even screaming abusively at her cat, such as “Get out of there, you stupid cat!” Christopher observes this and translates it into physical language which is the language of a three year old, such as hitting it, and Christine would then scream at him.
Last week, I took Christopher to visit my friend and ballet buddy Catherine. He was very excited about it, because Catherine not only has a cat, but two dogs! We had a wonderful visit, just Christopher, Catherine and I, and of course Tangerine the cat, and Lyon and Tigger, the miniature poodles. At one point, I came back into the house to help Catherine with kitchen chores, and Christopher was left momentarily in the fenced yard with just the two little dogs. Both Catherine and I could see him through the kitchen window, but he couldn’t see us. He played with the dogs for awhile, and then began looking for me, and called out “Uncle Tony!” I went out and he ran to me, hugging me tightly. Catherine later said to me, “He adores you.”
“And I him”, I said.
A few days ago, I took Christopher, also by myself, to meet Diane, Alex, Crystal and Dylan at the toy complex on Granville Island to visit “Santa Claus”. The three children were totally engrossed in the white bearded man, and we adults were totally engrossed in the children.
* * * * *
So, this is New Year’s Eve, and the shit did hit the fan. I came home not long ago from visiting Christopher and Christine, perturbed. Once again, Christine was verbally badgering Christopher and telling him now bad he was, and he was cowering. At one point, I had to stand up for him, just defensively, but if anyone else did the same to Christopher, I might have offensively told him to just shove off.
After I had come home, I decided that things had gone far enough, and in spite of a severe foreboding, I picked up the phone to call Christine to talk about it.
As soon as she answered the phone and heard my voice, she knew what I was calling for. Her hostility was spontaneous and intense. Before I could say anything, she said in a voice that I could only describe as threatening, “Don’t you dare interfere!”
I was committed, so I said my piece.
But before I could finish, she shouted, “HOW DARE YOU!!” and hung up on me.
This was nothing new. She’d done it many times over the years. And I knew her pattern. She would either not answer the phone after that, or else take it off the hook, so I didn’t bother calling back. I also know that she would not call me for days, or forever, which means that I wouldn’t be able to see Christopher for just as long, and I know she knows that sooner or later, I would come crawling to her, if only for Christopher.
And I know something else much deeper, and much more long term destructive. Whenever we disagree, Christine would never interpret my actions as for Christopher, but against Christine.
So much for the way 1998 ended, and 1999 began, since it is already past midnight.
Happy New Year, Christopher.
* * * * * * * * * *
January 16, 1999, Saturday
Yesterday, I had an enjoyable “date” with Christine’s cousin Donna. Around Christmas time, for the first time in the twenty-plus years I’ve known her, she issued me an invitation – to her six year old son Colin’s birthday party, which took place at her house last week. There were lots of children there, Christopher of course included. So Donna and I didn’t get to talk much, nor did other adults among themselves for that matter. When I was making ready to leave, Donna said to me, “Now that you know where I live, don’t be a stranger. Come and visit me some Friday evening. We could watch a video or something after Colin has gone to bed.”
“I would love to, but hasn’t Christine told you about my oncoming trip?”
“You go on so many trips. Which one do you mean?”
“The one I’ll be leaving on Wednesday next. To India. My third trip there.”
“Wow! How long do you plan to be away for?”
“About 10 weeks.”
“So you wouldn’t be back till…?”
“April 1. Thereabouts.”
“Well, what are you doing this Friday?”
I arrived at 7 p.m., Friday, as arranged. We went to a video store and picked Grand Canyon – a very mediocre film as we later judged it. After that, we just talked over tea – quite a few pots of it. We were uninhibited verbally and covered every topic under the sun, including relationships and even sex, which is often a sign or signal of mutual romantic interest. At one point, she asked about my relationship with Christine, implying sexual content. I said “Platonic”, and wondered why she asked, and more so, why she had to ask. Doesn’t she already know? And if not, why not? I mean, I’ve been platonic with Christine for well over a decade, and have had other romantic interests since.
At one point, I noticed that she had been massaging her own shoulder off and on for about an hour. “Would you like me to do it for you?” I offered.
“Better not,” she said. “I can’t let a man touch me.”
“I haven’t been with a man for over three years. I don’t trust myself.”
I didn’t know her well enough to interpret this, so I just let it rest. But I couldn’t resist saying, “If and when you change your mind, just let me know.”
She gave me a hug in appreciation, which lasted all of five seconds.
At about 1 a.m., I said, “It’s getting late. Time to go.”
“You don’t have to leave on my account. We can have another pot of tea if you want.”
Finally, at 3 a.m., we did hug good night, this time lasting at most ten seconds. I would call this a decent date, in both senses of the word.
I’ve always admired Donna’s Latina good looks and sexuality that she seemed to exude without trying. But what made me first take notice of Donna as more than just “Christine’s cousin” had nothing to do with sex. It was her genuinely loving smile for Christopher when he was a new baby. “This woman has heart,” I remember thinking. But over the years, we’ve hardly said boo to each other. Now, I’ve come to like her as a person as well. There might be a second date yet, but not till earliest April.
Did I tell Christine about Donna’s invitation before accepting it? Did I tell her about the date before going on it? No and no. It would seem too much like asking for her permission, no matter how I put it. Donna and I are adults, and whether or not we consent, it is our own business, not Christine’s.
This is the first warm and sunny weekend for a month. I took Christopher out by myself, with Christine electing to stay home for a break. Originally I had in mind to take him to Minnekhada Park in Maple Ridge, since bears would still be hibernating (last year, there were reports of bear encounters in the park). But seeing that he fell asleep in my car almost instantly and Minnekhada is not that far away, I decided to drive out to Campbell Valley Park in Langley, which is one of our favourites. Christopher slept like a baby the whole way, and when I woke him up, he opened his eyes, saw me and the trees, and broke into a smile. What a sweet angelic child. So we did the 4 km circuit, took sitting and snacking breaks on benches and board walks over marsh waters, with me giving him shoulder rides part way when his little legs got tired, saying hellos to people and petting dogs passing by, checking out the “ant castles” (tree stumps inhabited by colonies of ants on the Scenic Meadow), marveling at the flitting swallows and the darting humming birds, and in general basking in our love that fills earth and sky. What a perfect afternoon.
When we got back, the three of us went to Skillcourt for our usual “family dinner”, to winding up a picture-perfect day.
A more heart-warming few fare-thee-well days simply cannot be had.
* * * * *
The eve of my 10 week India trip. I took out extra insurance, beneficiary: Christopher.
The last few persons I see before leaving are my parents, my special friend Jeanine, the Buckingham family and of course Christine and Christopher. This will be the longest I’ll be away from him for. It will be our toughest separation yet. Other than the total length, there will be long stretches when I will be out of telephone contact, not to mention internet access, with the rest of the world. And even in the center of New Delhi, a 10 minute overseas phone call could cost more than what an average Indian would make in a month. I tried to explain this to Christopher.
“Even if I cannot call you, I will still be thinking of you,” I said to him. “Even if you don’t hear from me, I will still be loving you. Do you understand this, Christopher?”
“Yes, Uncle Tony. But I will miss you.” With this he broke out in tears, soaking my shoulder.
“I know, Christopher, I will miss you too,” I paced the carpet back and forth, patting him softly on his back. “But remember, I’ll be back. What would you like me to bring back to you?”
“You, Uncle Tony.”
“I’ll come back to you, Christopher. I promise.”
My tears joined his on my shoulder.
In fact, I said good-bye to them twice. The second time, I drove back after about 15 minutes to give Christine a little care package that she appreciated very much, plus my debit card complete with access code in case she needed emergency funds while I was away, the entire amount being the limit. All she said was, “You’re crazy.”
No matter how many times I hugged Christopher goodbye, I’d always want to hug him just one more time.
* * * * *