When I came to Canada, there were obviously a lot of things that are very different from my home country and therefore surprised me, but one of the things that was most shocking to me definitely was the wildlife.
I knew that there are bears and cougars and lots of other animals I would consider dangerous, but I never thought I would frequently see them. Even though my uncle, who has been to Canada to go camping a few times, always told me I should get a little bell to scare bears away and carry bear spray with me when hiking or biking, I never took it that seriously. I just expected it would be like foxes back home (I know they aren’t dangerous), you know they are there, but you never really see them as they are quite shy, and if you do, they are very far away from you.
When my host father told me of his encounter with a big Grizzly after he went biking early in the morning on the second day I spent here, I realized that I should better be prepared for seeing a bear while I am alone outside. Even before school started, we had a few different bears in our yard. I didn’t see every single one, but we have a wildlife camera hanging on the property, that takes great pictures of all the animals wandering around here, and I even got to see two of the bears myself.
They were only small black bears, and I still found them quite scary.
When my host mother proposed to me, that I should on a bike ride by myself, I was pretty overwhelmed. What would I do if I saw a bear while I was alone? I asked her, and she explained me how to use bear spray and told me I should just make lots of noise to scare them away: Believe me when I say I was very loud on my first solo bike ride. Every single time I come home from an activity outside, no matter whether I was alone or not, I am very relieved when I didn’t see wildlife. I guess I could handle seeing a bear from farther away, but if I ever see a cougar, I will probably never leave my room again.
Photo and blog post submitted by Kathrin from Germany who is in Grade 11 at Fernie Secondary School.