We sent wildlife photographer Jenny Wong to Churchill, Manitoba, to capture a visual story on the work we’re doing with Polar Bears International.
Vulnerable. That’s the singular word used to describe the current population of polar bears across the world. Shocking. Sad. Devastating. Those are three words to describe how critical this situation has become. Polar Bears International (PBI) is a passionate team of people whose mission focuses on preserving wild polar bears and their habitat through science, media, and advocacy. PBI is the only organization dedicated solely to polar bears’ conservation and preservation of the sea ice they depend on.
We have a deep connection to the North—our brand is intrinsically linked to the landscape, people, and creatures who inhabit it. That’s why, as part of our HUMANATURE commitment, we have partnered with PBI for over 10 years to help preserve wild polar bears and their stunning habitat. Our work won’t stop until we generate a deeper awareness of the climate change issues that face the Arctic and its inhabitants.
Wildlife photographer Jenny Wong recently visited the remote community of Churchill, Manitoba—known as the polar bear capital of the world—where PBI is based and where polar bear research and conservation efforts are managed. We asked her to capture the native landscapes, the people, and, of course, the polar bears to make a photo essay that showcased the wild world of the Arctic. Through her lens, she shares the unseen stories of conservation and the collaboration of people who work together so that the wild can thrive.
“The moods of the taiga. It’s no rainforest here, life is sparse in the rugged landscape. But there truly is beauty in the strength of the life here. The one weathered tree tells a story of the wind as it sweeps across Hudson’s Bay.”
“In a year where we longed for a hug amidst the chaos, this shot seemed reflective of it. Perhaps it is the perception of warmth and sweetness that we see, a bear hug of sorts, captured between a split second of my shutter flap; this is actually two bears sparring, and the frames before and after show a very different reality and mood.”
“A beautiful male polar bear wanders onto a frozen pond but there’s no seal in these fresh waters. He will have to wait a few more days before the salty bay freezes.”
“Zac Mills is a fellow wildlife photographer and friend. This morning the snow had fallen all night, the trails we took on 4×4 were impassable. We got out and took turns shoveling, eventually more vehicles looking for polar bears showed up as well. All of which got out and pitch in so we can all get through to the coast. Thriving in the north is most definitely about preparation and community.”
“When everyone goes to bed, and it’s too cold to go leave the comforts of a warm bed, that’s when magic happens, or so it seems when you go out chasing Auroras. There is a magic about Churchill that will captivate you, be it day or night, you just need to get outside.”
“My heroes don’t wear capes, they wear parkas and snow pants, they brace the winter chills with a smile, and work tirelessly to protect polar bears. Geoff York is the senior director of conservation at PBI. His office today was out on the tundra in the research buggy, affectionately known as Buggy 1.”
“Dave Alcorn and Elbert Bakker checking out a mother polar bear and her curious cub. Perhaps the most rewarding part of this project was getting to learn from people so passionately vested in the well being of the polar bears. I strongly believe that the more I can understand my subject, the more successful I will be in capturing their story; that goes for both the bears and the people.”
“Miss Piggy is the crash site of ‘Commando’ a twin- prop cargo aircraft that was widely used by the US military during the second world war. We were able to walk around it and even climb into the cabin and cockpit. A scene so raw in structure hidden amongst the scattered trees of the taiga and reclaimed by beautiful murals. It is truly an outdoor museum in Churchill.”
“In the north nothing really leaves or dies, old buildings, become ruins, inhabited by the wild, and eventually adorned by art. People live on like legends up North, and what was once built with purpose and abandoned seems to find new life through a different narrative.”
“I am 5’4, 100lbs, Asian female. This is what the world sees of me, not exactly the picture of tough. Working in an industry of adventure and wildlife photography, I need to be more than what they expect, I can’t just merely survive, I need to thrive. They will not remember the one off minority for who she was, but rather an experience that will generalize a community of people like her.”
“The sea ice is what the bears were waiting for. It was bittersweet seeing it come and go in the last few days of my shoot. A great hope that the bears will return to their hunting grounds and end the summer fast, and a sadness that it means farewell to the bears as well.”
“This was the rare opportunity where I was able to ethically photograph a portrait of a Polar Bear with a wide angle lens. Entitled “Polar Bear Selfie”, this large male displayed the same curiosity I had for him, for me. He stood up on his hind legs to get a better sniff of me while I was standing on the back deck of Buggy 1. Looking into his eyes so briefly and a twitching nose just a few feet from my lens; the moment took my breath away, and left me speechless.”
For more on our involvement with Polar Bear International, along with information on how you can donate, plus a look at our PBI outerwear collection (with proceeds going towards conservation efforts), please visit this link.