"I see the Benoits as illuminators. Their monastic work corrects and repairs a fault of disaffection against magisterial nature which surrounds us, against the fabulous animals that live there, against our own humanity when it renounces the best of itself. As a child, little Gisèle dreamed of wolves not in fear, but in deepest wonder. She held to her dream, and the wolves are very much thankful."
Writer and anthropologist
Excerpt from the book FRISSON SACRÉ du monde sauvage
A FAMILY LIKE NO OTHER
Now hailed as an ambassador of the wild and awakener of conscience, Gisèle Benoit has been observing Canadian wildlife since 1977. She communicates her message by painting, writing and making documentary films. She has also written memoirs, lectured and acted as a consultant in various projects related to the protection of nature.
MONIQUE AND RAYNALD BENOIT
Wildlife has always been at the heart of Gisèle's concerns. She shares her passion with her parents. Her mother, Monique Blaquière-Benoit, is a wildlife artist and naturalist, while her father, Raynald Benoit, excels as a filmmaker and producer of documentaries that have become classics. The Benoit family form a team entirely dedicated to the protection of nature.
IN THE COMPANY OF MOOSE
In 1979, the Benoits discover the Gaspésie National Park, in eastern Québec. There, Gisèle begins her unique research on moose behaviour that will make her famous around the world.
"She started living near moose, like Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey with monkeys and gorillas", writes Louise Cousineau in La Presse after the broadcast of Raynald's first professional documentary: In the Company of Moose."
In 1995, the second documentary directed by Gisèle Benoit and her family, The Grouse: An Exceptional Bird, astonishes the public as much as the specialists. It wins the Grand Prize of the XIe Festival international du film ornithologique de Ménigoute (France). Widely distributed throughout the world, this documentary even serves as a reference at a symposium with the gathering of 1000 specialists on birds, under the auspices of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris.
IN THE LAND OF THE WOLF
In 2001, Gisèle and her parents make a dream come true: to establish their own Wildlife Study Centre and live at least six months a year at a base camp, in the heart of the Northern Ontario forest, far from modern comforts.
The documentary series Wilderness Encounters, and more recently the web-series Ma’iingan, In the Land of the Wolf relate their extraordinary immersion in the wild world.
TECHNIQUE AND WARNING
Greatly inspired by Grey Owl, Jane Goodall and Konrad Lorenz, Monique, Gisèle and Raynald Benoit favour passive observation as well as direct contact with their subjects in the wild. This kind of approach sometimes leads them to
encounter wild animals in close proximity where competence and wisdom are required, and even indispensable, to ensure their safety and that of the wildlife. The Benoits warn people against the temptation of imitating their techniques or approaching wild animals, as they allow themselves to do within the very strict framework of their study projects.
The artistic, literary and cinematographic works of the Benoit family touch people and inspire respect for nature through the new vision they offer, and also through the sensitivity and originality that characterize them. They bear a vision based on an authentic human experience. This philosophical and spiritual dimension gives added value to the accomplishments of Monique, Raynald and Gisèle. Since 2008, the Society of Art and Science for Nature (SAS Nature), of which they are co-founders, has helped support their educational mission.
Understanding the role and life cycle of a species in an ecosystem is of paramount importance in order to adopt effective protection measures. Very critical about wildlife management in Québec, the Benoits fight against the anthropocentric philosophy guiding the majority of decision-makers. Indifference, economic interests and prejudices often hamper the protection of nature. With brushes, a camera and a lot of passion, the Benoits invite each individual to renew his or her sacred ties to nature. This site offers the opportunity to discover the unique work of these ambassadors of the Wild.