“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 thanked her very much.” 

Serge Bouchard
Writer and anthropologist
Excerpt from the book FRISSON SACRÉ du monde sauvage

Portrait of a family like no other

Gisèle Benoit

Now hailed as an ambassador of the wild and awakener of conscience, Gisèle Benoit has been observing Canadian wildlife since 1977. She communicates her ecological message by painting, writing and making documentary films. She has also written memoirs, lectured and acted as a consultant in various projects related to nature.

Raynald and Monique Benoit

Wildlife conservation 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 forms 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.

Exceptional birds

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 gathering of 1000 specialists on birds, under the auspices of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris.

A dream comes true

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.

 

Then, the family testifies to its experience in the Wild by producing new documentaries and thematic exhibitions.

Technique, objectives and warning

Gisèle, Monique and Raynald Benoit are not biologists. They rather define themselves as self-taught naturalists, always eager to learn and to push the limits of their knowledge. Greatly inspired by Grey Owl, Jane Goodall and Konrad Lorenz, they favour passive observation as well as experimentation, which means 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. In their publications, 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.

One Passion: animal behaviour studies

Gisèle and her parents work in a little explored field of the natural sciences: the study of animal behaviour in the wild, including sound and gestural communication among birds and mammals, as well as interactions between species… captivating subjects that are challenging.

 

There are reasons why many behavioural studies take place in enclosures: in nature, the difficulties are so numerous and the work so demanding that most researchers, limited by time, prefer to observe their subjects in a semi-free context.

Photo 9 Une passion l’étude du comportement animal

One Mission

Studies conducted by the Benoit family are not requested by government departments, conservation parks or organizations, nor are they funded by public money. They result only from the will of their authors, who ensure their smooth running and funding through their publications, which are not conventional.

 

They can take the form of a painting exhibition, a video production, a memoir, a conference or a book. In each case, they combine art and science to move, to raise awareness and to educate the public about the importance of protecting biodiversity. Since 2008, the Society of Art and Science for Nature, of which the Benoits are co-founders, helps to support their educational mission by diffusing their studies’ results on a large scale.​

 

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, a hope based on an authentic human experience. This philosophical and spiritual dimension gives added value to the accomplishments of Monique, Raynald and Gisèle.

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The Benoits, defenders of the Wild

Understanding the role and life cycle of a species in an ecosystem is of paramount importance in order to adopt effective conservation measures. Very critical about wildlife management in Québec and Canada, 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.

Participate in our mission!

It is now possible for you to participate in our educational mission and in the production of our future web-series on the wolf.

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