Arts and entertainment column: Learn about bears, salmon and humans; view artist’s bold creations

‘Spirit Bear’ preying on salmon in coastal British Columbia. (Andrew S. Wright photo)‘Spirit Bear’ preying on salmon in coastal British Columbia. (Andrew S. Wright photo)
Grizzly bears on B.C.’s coast. (Andrew S. Wright photo)Grizzly bears on B.C.’s coast. (Andrew S. Wright photo)
A bear on B.C.’s coast. (Andrew S. Wright photo)A bear on B.C.’s coast. (Andrew S. Wright photo)
A work from Dominique Eustace’s show Fire at the Portals Galley Annex on now. (Dominique Eustace painting)A work from Dominique Eustace’s show Fire at the Portals Galley Annex on now. (Dominique Eustace painting)
A work from Dominique Eustace’s show Water at the Portals Galley Annex next month. (Dominique Eustace painting)A work from Dominique Eustace’s show Water at the Portals Galley Annex next month. (Dominique Eustace painting)
Artist Dominique Eustace has two shows at the Portals Gallery Annex in Duncan on now through Feb. 20. She is also giving an art demo and will be doing an online auction of four of her works to benefit four local charities. (Submitted)Artist Dominique Eustace has two shows at the Portals Gallery Annex in Duncan on now through Feb. 20. She is also giving an art demo and will be doing an online auction of four of her works to benefit four local charities. (Submitted)

The Cowichan Valley Naturalists are presenting a talk next week that gives people the chance to learn a little more about the natural world around them.

Ttitled “Bear-salmon-human systems of B.C.’s coast: natural history, conservation and indigenous resurgence”, it has the naturalists looking forward to the Zoom session.

“It should be a great talk with beautiful photos from the Great Bear Rainforest,” said Caroline Deary of the Naturalists. “This is open to everyone, not just current members of the Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society.”

Chris Darimont, a professor and Raincoast chair in Applied Conservation Science with the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria, will give the presentation. Here’s his description of the event:

“Relationships among bears, salmon and humans on B.C.’s coast are ecologically, economically and culturally complex. Nutritious and formerly abundant salmon not only supported high-density bear populations but also underpinned flourishing societies of indigenous peoples with elaborate cultural and governance practices that revolved around the natural world. Despite historical and ongoing colonial harms and the associated overexploitation of resources, indigenous governments are increasingly reasserting their authority to safeguard culturally and economically important species like salmon and bears. Transformational change abounds.”

Darimont says he will be highlighting “insight generated from over a decade of applied science on bear-salmon-human systems in the Great Bear Rainforest. Witness how research projects, directed by resurging indigenous governments, combine local values and knowledge with empirical insight to inform local and provincial policy and practice. Learn how First Nations governments are making the science ‘actionable’, and making changes that secure the food, homes and security of coastal bears. Chris will share stories, data and stunning pictures to take you deep into the Great Bear Rainforest and leave you feeling optimistic about its future in this new era of Indigenous-led stewardship.”

The presentation takes place on Zoom on Feb. 1, at 9:30 a.m. Email for the Zoom link.


Dominique Eustace is bringing her bold colours and playful perspective to the Portals Gallery Annex through Feb. 20 with two different shows, titled Fire (Jan. 21 to Feb. 4) and Water (Feb. 6-20).

In Fire, Eustace will show acrylic and oil paintings that she describes as abstracts, still life, figures, nudes and landscapes captured in vibrant colours and rough brush strokes.

In Water, while the subjects are similar, the artist uses softer colours and a more impressionist style.

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is hosting both shows.

Eustace is also holding an art demonstration in the Annex on Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. for guests, as permitted with COVID restrictions, and virtually on Youtube (

Four pieces, two from the show and two that will be displayed at local shops in Cowichan, will be available for purchase through an online auction (, with proceeds going to four local charities: Cowichan Trail Stewarship Society, Nourish Cowichan, Cowichan Valley Youth Services and Hiiye’ yu Lelum House of Friendship. The auction will accept bids from Jan. 23 to Feb. 20.

“I chose these charities as I am a pediatrician, parent and athlete as well as an artist,” said Eustace. “Cowichan Trails Stewardship Society (because trails give me joy and because exercise and nature promote both physical and mental health); Cowichan Valley Youth Services (because kids are so important and mental health outcomes are so much better if support occurs early); Nourish Cowichan (because kids are so important and hungry kids can’t learn. Education prevents poverty and therefore disease); and Hiiye’yu Lelum Society House of Friendship (because this site offers so many great programs for children and families in this community).”


Professional artists and others who work in the arts can get more support to help with challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic though a new provincial grant program.

“Together with the arts sector, we are working hard to make sure that dancers, writers, painters and other artists can continue being resilient and finding innovative ways to keep creating through COVID-19,” said Melanie Mark, minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “We’re building on our support for arts and culture in British Columbia by helping artists adapt their work, ensuring our province has a strong creative industry to enjoy when the pandemic is over.”

Many artists have been unable to work or worked less due to the temporary closures of venues and restricted audience sizes. The B.C. government is creating a new $500,000 Pivot for Individuals program through the BC Arts Council to help professional artists, cultural workers and arts administrators adapt to these challenges.

Through the BC Arts Council’s new program, people can apply for up to $12,000 to learn new skills or adapt their practices. Artists can apply for a grant for things such as modifying a dance piece for a smaller audience or learning new skills, such as video editing. Artists are also able to apply for support for professional development, like mentorship or training.

The program is available to professional artists and cultural workers, including: dancers and choreographers; visual artists; writers; actors; multi-media artists; and arts administrators.

Applications are open until Feb. 16. The BC Arts Council will adjudicate and award the grants in early spring 2021.

Arts and Entertainment

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