“Hi, I am Farhan! Great to meet you!”, like university orientation, the first day of work is naturally filled with lots of introductions. I love meeting new people, but the challenge is to remember everyone's names. Especially, when you meet so many people in just a matter of minutes. As I settled into my desk and filled out the admin forms, I suddenly realized that this was my first full-time job, in a foreign land far away from any comforts of the familiarity to fall back on. Canada for me has been synonymous with Metro Vancouver. Yes, I had once been to Winnipeg for a few hours where I witnessed what a few hours of modern flight can achieve. One moment I was in sunny Las Vegas, the next I was in knee deep snow! So, I was really excited to be living in a different region and experience the true Northern wilderness.
My boss Corrine had just sprained her leg while mountain biking downhill from Boer Mountain. Which I thought was pretty cool for a first impression. She actually turned out to be even cooler in the next few months and along with everyone at the Regional District, made my arduous transition process into a joyous one.
“It would be a good idea to sign you up for the Bear Aware workshop”, and just like that, I had started my training for life up North! I had seen quite a few bears in my life, like Winnie-the-Pooh, or Baloo the Bush pilot. But, they were cartoon characters and not real. For me, they had shaped the idea of bears as friendly animals that you could walk up to and cuddle with. Well maybe not cuddle, but you get the idea. My perceptions were about to be changed and a little part of my childhood was about to be killed. Now if you’re a foreigner in bear country you might want to pay attention to the next few lines as I summarize the workshop. It might save your life someday!
Bears are curious animals and will eat absolutely anything and everything. Eat and store food cautiously in airtight packages. Unlike us humans, bears don’t like surprises, so always make noises when hiking through the woods. As the number of people in a travel group increases, the chances of bear attack decrease exponentially. However, as I often found myself hiking alone, to hack it, I would often turn on a podcast on my phone to serve the illusion. I don’t know if it worked but I’m still here. Lastly, if you do encounter one - try to wave, make noises and slowly walk away, no sudden movements and absolutely no cuddling! However, for the most part, bears are gracious animals and rarely attack humans, respect them and let mother nature do its thing. Little did I know then, this training knowledge would come very handy when I actually locked eyes with a Black Bear. (to be continued...)