By Juliana – 1st Year Student
Upon my arrival at Quest, the name of Quest’s mascot – the Kermode, caught my eye. I’m not from British Columbia so I had never heard of the Kermode before. Having had the opportunity to research and learn more about the Kermode, I can say that it is the most unique sports and school mascot that I have ever heard of. The Kermode is a Black Bear, however, it with white fur, like a Polar Bear.
Kermodes are not Polar Bears, nor are they related to them. Genetically, the Kermode is the same as the Black Bear. Kermodes are often mistaken for having albinism, but their white fur is actually caused by a rare recessive gene, which results in approximately one Kermode out of every ten Black Bears. Kermodes are only native to British Columbia, and are at risk of extinction. Currently it is estimated that there are less than a thousand Kermodes living. Kermodes are also threatened by trophy hunting because although Kermodes themselves are legally protected from hunting practices, the recessive gene that Black Bears carry may be lost when Black Bears are hunted.
The Kermode is especially representative of the extraordinary setting of our school, as our school is located on the unceded and ancestral territory of the Squamish First Nation. Kermodes are commonly referred to as ‘spirit bears’, because of the rich folklore originating from the Squamish First Nation and other First Nations communities here in British Columbia, more specifically the Gitg’at and the Kitasoo Peoples. In local First Nations languages, the bear is called Moksgm’ol.
The most common legend of the Kermode is that the Kermode was created by Raven, who decided to make one in every ten Black Bears white in order to remember the long time during which the world was covered in ice and snow. In creating the Kermodes, Raven designated a special region of the world for them– the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. This special region was meant to serve as a peaceful paradise for the Kermode.