Stewards of Splendour charts 250 years of wildlife protection and policy in BC


VICTORIA, BC — How effectively have British Columbians shouldered the responsibility of stewarding the great diversity of life in their province? That’s the complex question that underpins author Jennifer Bonnell’s new book, Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia, launched today by Royal BC Museum Publications. The answer, she says, “is mixed”—and well worth the 496-page read.

Spanning the deep history of human relationships with wildlife, from pre-contact Indigenous land stewardship to the present day, Stewards of Splendour explores the myriad ways scientists, Indigenous leaders, hunter-conservationists and naturalists have sought to shape, deliver and respond to wildlife management and resource development policies and practices in BC.

“Wildlife in British Columbia is a highly polarizing topic. By incorporating the histories and concerns of hunters and fishers, Indigenous communities, and conservationists, this book aims to create some common ground,” says Bonnell. “One of its most salient conclusions lies in the value of working together.

“As this history shows, finding ways to build knowledge, pool resources, and overcome differences has produced some important conservation victories in this province. These approaches are all the more necessary in addressing the potent threats that lie ahead for the living world that we all cherish.”

Bonnell, who grew up on Vancouver Island and now teaches Canadian and environmental history at York University, draws from a rich body of historical, scientific and policy-related literature and more than 80 in-depth interviews to recount the struggles and victories to preserve and protect BC’s unique biodiversity.

Stewards of Splendour is a hugely informative social history that points to a more hopeful future,” says Acting Royal BC Museum CEO Tracey Drake. “It showcases the efforts of change makers working both locally and internationally to build the relationships and new approaches that will drive positive outcomes for our province—and our planet.”

“This important book clearly demonstrates how change, scarcity and different attitudes and belief can deliver people and communities, but also how the shared appreciation of wildlife, which is at the heart of many British Columbian’s values, an bring us together to make tangible differences,” says Jennifer Psyllakis, executive director of Wildlife, Habitat and Species Recovery in BC’s Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, which helped co-fund the publication. “Through story and reflection, the book supports the urgent call to action to come together for wildlife and improve stewardship to ensure that the natural gifts of these lands thrive for future generations.”

Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia, by Jennifer Bonnell ($34.95) is available now from the Royal BC Museum gift shop and other book retailers.

Bonnell and other contributors to the book are hosting a reception and discussion panel, Thursday, October 12 at the Royal BC Museum, from 5:30–8 PM to celebrate the release of Stewards of Splendour. Tickets are available here.

Bonnell is also available to speak to media in advance of the discussion panel.

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About the Royal BC Museum: The Royal BC Museum explores the province’s human history and natural history, advances new knowledge and understanding of BC, and provides a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection. The museum and archives celebrate culture and history, telling the stories of BC in ways that enlighten, stimulate and inspire. Located in Victoria on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations), we are a hub of community connections in BC—on-site, off-site and online—taking pride in our collective histories.

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Amanda Richardson
Communications Specialist