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First Person: Wade Davis

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Light at the Edge of the World

Famed author, photographer, anthropologist, and biologist Wade Davis in Whistler for sustainability speaker series

What: Sustainability Speaker Series

Who: Wade Davis, Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures

Where: Telus Conference Centre

When: Thursday, March 18 at 7 p.m.

Wade Davis found light in what were once considered the dark corners of the world, as he lived in wilderness and rainforests with the indigenous people of Haiti, Tibet, Borneo, Africa, the Amazon, the Arctic, the Andes and his native British Columbia.

He was sent there at first as a biologist, anthropologist and ethnobotanist to study the plants and compounds used by shamans in their ceremonies, investigating their possible use in medical procedures and pharmaceuticals. He came back with much more, including a deep appreciation for the strength, perseverance, and spiritual beliefs of indigenous people, and the way they relate to the land, their Gods and each other.

Wade Davis is the next speaker in the Whistler. It’s Our Nature sustainability speaker series, which has included eight prominent scientists, authors and business leaders over the past two years. Even among that distinguished group Davis is in a league of his own.

Davis is an Explorer-In-Residence at the National Geographic Society, with degrees in Anthropology and Biology and a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany from Harvard University.

He started his career by spending more than three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, and lived among 15 indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations while making 6,000 botanical collections.

He later went to Haiti to study the voodoo medicine used to make zombies, and he wrote about his experiences in The Serpent and Rainbow in 1986. The book became an international best seller, and was soon after released as a motion picture. He wrote about Haitian culture again with Passage of Darkness in 1988.

His other books included Penan: Voice for the Borneo Rain Forest (1990), Nomads of the Dawn (1995), The Clouded Leopard (1998), Shadows in the Sun (1998), One River (1996), and Rainforest (1998). One River was nominated for the 1997 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction.

His most recent book is Light at the Edge of the World (2002).

Davis was worked as a guide, a park ranger, a forestry engineer and conducted ethnographic fieldwork with First Nations in northern Canada. He currently divides his time between Washington D.C. and a vacation home in B.C.’s Stikine Valley.

More than 100 of his articles have been published in a wide range of publications, including National Geographic, Newsweek, Premiere, Outside, Omni, Harpers, Fortune, Men’s Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, Natural History, Utne Reader, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Globe and Mail.

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