The Sacred Headwaters is the name given by the first nations to a rugged string of mountains in northern British Columbia. In this location, three of the province’s most important rivers – the Stikine, the Skeena and the Nass – are all born. Crucial to the salmon population, the rivers play a central role in first nations culture and history.
The area is currently being considered for development. The risks and potential consequences of that development are the subject of a new book by National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence Wade Davis.
An anthropologist by training, Davis hardly fits the bill of the stereotypical buttoned-down, tongue-tied scientist. In fact, his thrilling anecdotes and great storytelling are reason enough alone to see the presentation.
Davis is a Harvard-trained ethnobiologist who spent years living among tribal groups in the Amazon jungle and the Andes mountains. Later, he investigated the folk culture of zombies in Haiti, ultimately publishing the best-seller The Serpent and the Rainbow.
Davis is also a native of British Columbia, and he has worked extensively as a park ranger, forestry engineer and ethnographic researcher in northern Canada. He has a fishing lodge in the Stikine Valley and a very personal stake in the quest to preserve the Sacred Headwaters.
In other words, those attending Davis’ talk should expect anything but a boring PowerPoint presentation. With a deep voice and a charisma that lends itself more to the stage than the laboratory, Davis offers a performance as engaging as any speaker I’ve seen. Plus, the photos from the Sacred Headwaters should make for some great visuals.
Wade Davis speaks about BC’s Sacred Headwaters on Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at SFU Woodwards in Vancouver.