Founder, Spirit Bear Youth Coalition & Co-Founder, Nature Labs
Simon Jackson has always been a believer in the power of one person to create a better world. For two decades, starting at the age of 13, Simon built the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition from a middle school letter writing campaign into the largest youth-led environment movement, with a global network of six million. The journey – one that included overcoming bullying, battling depression, navigating complex politics and innovating how the environment is debated – inspired the movie Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story and earned Simon numerous honours, including being named a Hero for the Planet by Time Magazine. Yet the only accomplishment that truly mattered to him was saving the endangered white Kermode or spirit bear on Canada’s west coast and, in 2016, Simon and a group of diverse stakeholders, did just that.
Today, as co-founder of Nature Labs, Simon remains committed to fostering a more thoughtful discourse and a better balance between the needs of people and nature. His speeches avoid divisive politics and instead underscore the importance of working together and thinking critically about our shared challenges. And by being honest about his ups and downs, Simon offers a reminder that while no one is perfect, each one of us – armed only with a passion – have the ability to foster more a more resilient, compassionate and innovative world for generations to come.
From motivational keynotes to panel discussions to hosted conversation on complex issues, Simon has addressed audiences of all ages and all sizes from coast to coast to coast and around the world. In addition to sharing his inspirational story, Simon will tailor his talks to the needs of any client and can focus on the following themes:
Stewardship & Sustainability
The discourse surrounding the environment has become increasingly polarized and simplistic. How do we mobilize a populous that is overwhelmed, misinformed and apathetic? We must heal the wounds that divide by championing personal stewardship and innovative ideas that work with the human condition.
Environment & Literacy
The world needs a generation of environmentally literate citizens – a cohort that understands and appreciates the value of nature. By deconstructing the complex and enlivening the obscure, we have the tools to create a nation that thinks critically about how to balance the needs of people and the environment. We just need the desire.
Innovation & Change
Fifty plus one is a loss. With too many issues facing our world, we need to stop re-fighting battles that have already been won. How? Politically sustainable solutions. By shifting the emphasis from rushed compromise to asymmetrical balance, we have the ability to move past watered-down bottom lines and toward innovative ideas that can bridge divides and generate lasting support.
Communication & Movement Building
Debating complex issues in a 280-character discourse is almost as hard as cutting through the noise to inspire action. Yet positive communication within a purpose-focused movement was the recipe that not only save the spirit bear, but also what underpinned the creation of the largest youth-led environmental movement in the world.
Inspiring & Mobilizing Youth
Millennials are more aware of the world’s ills than any generation before them, thanks to the Internet, but it’s both a blessing and a curse. The ease with which we can captivate and unite young minds is easier – and cheaper – than ever before. But so too is the ability to reinforce tired views that individuals don’t matter. Yet when a narrative can be authentically authored to prove, categorically, that one voice can make a difference, rising leaders have proven they will be present, accountable and engaged.
Education & Community
Education is the most important and cost-effective means of creating stronger communities and a better world, yet the system is failing our future minds far too often. It’s a challenge that shouldn’t fall at the feet of teachers – or even governments – but a burden that must be shared by every citizen. In telling stories of success and failure we can map a better path forward and embrace the teacher in all of us.
Politics & Engagement
Building non-traditional allies across partisan lines. Aligning good ideas with powerful motivators. Creating ready-made, plug-and-play solutions. These are the political lessons from one of Canada’s most successful movements and by dissecting the good, bad and ugly of the spirit bear campaign, it’s a road map for political impact.
Leadership & Perseverance
Equipped with a passion, rooted in a personal experience that can’t be dislodged, everyone has the capacity to act; an ignition is all that is needed. But stick-with-it-ness? That requires hope and hope must be accessible. In the sharing of an imperfect journey, hope is in the honest telling that there be dragons – and the reminder to not quit, because you can do it.
Mental Health & Resilience
No journey is easy and all dances with depression can cast long shadows on even the happiest of endings. But it’s in the honest disclosure of even the most uncomfortable experiences – the hardest truths – that allow for learning and growth, acceptance and help, compassion and hope. After all, it’s in the understanding that most everyone has a story of resiliency and that each offers a new path toward a better tomorrow.
Transformation & Empathy
The issues we grapple with are rarely black-and-white and the understanding that there are very few true ‘enemies’ is a message we need to hear more. Yet we also must realize that having empathy for those we disagree with is only possible if we’re open to having honest, hard conversations.
Adventure & Storytelling
A grizzly bear that defied science with its love to play. An otter that refused to let her paraplegic pup die. Two fox vixens that worked together to raise kits after both their mates were killed. These are some of the incredible stories of Canada’s nature and powerful images bring ten years of adventure in Canada’s iconic landscape to life.