Origin Stories: Racoons, bears proved to be the best tour guides

After experiencing life in Canada for four years I have realized that we are guests on the planet and wildlife are the original inhabitants.

Richard, 23, on his Burnaby, B.C., campus.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro News

Richard, 23, on his Burnaby, B.C., campus.

I moved to Canada in 2013 from Nigeria, and lived in the Simon Fraser University Residence on Burnaby Mountain in B.C.

While there I noticed many wild animals roaming free on the campus, and was worried about the safety of the students. I looked in disbelief at how other first year students from Canada were excited when they saw a bear or other wild animals and wanted to take pictures and videos. Whenever I saw the other students photographing animals that to them were cute, I would think about how we Nigerians love meat and would rather kill and eat that animal than take pictures. I recall observing a group of raccoons and telling a Nigerian friend who was also new to Canada that raccoons would make really good bush meat back home. Even a cat back home that always went to the kitchen of my neighbours to steal food became prey. Some of the men in my neighbourhood got fed up, killed the cat and ate it.


This perception of wild animals as meat was my view until last year when I watched a Facebook video of a lion being killed to save a man in Kenya. Most of the commentators were ranting about the death of the lion and how cruel humans were for killing animals. I couldn’t see the difference between killing a pig for bacon and killing a lion that attacked a man. One user wrote about balance in ecosystems and how human activities were making some species of animals go extinct. After reading the commentary I realized how much of a chain reaction the extinction of one species of animal could cause in an ecosystem.

I showed the video of the lion being killed to some friends from Nigeria who had been in Canada for some time, with the intention of laughing together about the comments. They seemed oddly sympathetic towards the lion — not what I expected from my Nigerian friends.

After a heated argument about why the lion should not have been killed, we began discussing the presence of wild animals on the SFU Burnaby campus. My opinion was that the wild animals should not be there and people should be allowed to kill them. One of my friends asked me to reverse the roles and put myself in the shoes of these animals. He also asked me where I wanted these animals to go. That left me speechless. I began to realize why wildlife on my campus should be preserved.

In the wild, animals are dependent on each other for survival, and if one species goes extinct it could cascade through others in that habitat.

After experiencing life in Canada for four years I have realized that we are guests on the planet and wildlife are the original inhabitants. We have invaded and destroyed their homes, then built our own homes without thinking about the repercussions of killing off other species. It is up to us to coexist with the wildlife around us. It is our responsibility to preserve our ecosystem. We might be more dependent than we know on other animals that we think are irrelevant.

This summer we are telling tales of our multicultural nation through your stories of arrival. Share yours for a chance to be included in the series with #MetroOrigins or email:

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