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Women’s leadership: A Conversation with Janet Bax
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Women’s leadership: A Conversation with Janet Bax

[caption id="attachment_36747" align="alignleft" width="150"] Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese, a Women for Nature Member.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_36759" align="alignright" width="150"] Janet Bax, a Women for Nature member and mentor.[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member’s Janet Bax. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese.  Sharolyn: You have had a long illustrious career in both government and academia.  From what you’ve seen, do they work together or in tandem when it comes to protecting the environment? Janet: Academia and government have very different roles to play, but they’re equally important.  One of government’s primary roles is to develop programs and policies that work to create that economic well-being in the interest of the people. Academia advances the science and knowledge.  When I think of my career in government, we called on scientists to give us the underpinning for policies.  Working with home grown scientists, there was always a collaborative spirit. I started in policy development in the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario with Premier Bill Davis in the financial area, then moved federally to foreign affairs, and then worked under the Progressive Conservative government under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to advance Canada’s position as part of an international climate change agreement.  In those days, Environment Canada was really strong.  We were working on a Canadian position which had to include both the positions of Canada’s natural resource NGOs and Department and also that of Environment Canada that was fighting for climate change policies.  It was very fractious; however, at Geneva, we had a consolidated Canadian position.  That was when the international model for cap and trade was discussed and developed. S: What do you mean that Environment Canada was really strong? J: It started under Brian Mulroney, and continued under Prime Minister Chretien when we had two very strong cabinet ministers working on climate change, and they were both women! They were Sheila Copps who was at the same time Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment, and Anne McLennan who was Minister of Natural Resources. S: It is important to note these capable women were given the chance by a strong leader, Jean Chretien, and they did not disappoint. Up to then, few women were given a chance, but were set up for failure. J: Yes. These women were pioneers. I also worked with Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the current Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.  She is also passionate about the work in which she is involved. S: How do you define a strong woman? J: Interesting question. I think you want and need models.  Liz reminds me that when we both worked at the provincial level and went to federal provincial meetings, we were the only women there.  We were there to do a job.  We stuck together.  The women were not strident, contrary to the John Crosby thing.  Liz has always wanted to do a good job.  For instance, when she was the Canadian representative to the UN Environmental Program in Nairobi, she wanted to make changes, and she did. S: Why do you think there weren’t, and aren’t more women in a leadership role? J: One of the first assessments I undertook when I joined the Council of Canadian Academies looked at the factors that influence the career trajectory of women in research and explored why there are not more women at the top in academia. It found there are all kinds of factors that can explain why there aren’t more women in positions of leadership – things like the timing of childbearing years and career choices, but more importantly, women don’t have the same kind of networks as men.  Men use their networks to get ahead. They have time to make connections, which they use so well.  Women are busy looking after their home, and kids and if they don’t publish in academia, they perish.  Women are so stretched; they don’t have time to network.  Research showed this impacted their ability to climb the success ladder. S: From your experience, has protection of the environment always been the case or were nature and the environment seen as commodities to be sold? If there was a shift, when did it happen. J: First of all, there were major cross-border events such as the Love Canal in Niagara; and the acid rain agreement involving Canada and the US on our shared Great Lakes. But, there was also the United Nations 1987 Brundtland Commission which coined the term “sustainable development”.  This was the notion that development must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and that the exploitation of natural resources and protection of the environment did not have to involve the deterioration of economic and social development. S: You’ve traveled a lot outside of Canada, what does Nature mean to you? J: I think we Canadians value our environment. I think of Sheila Copps and how she created all the national parks under Prime Minister Chretien. I am so proud of these extraordinary protected lands such as the Gwaii Haanas National Park. I am so happy that for Canada 150 the national parks were free. It was so successful that now they have to limit visitors to some of our most popular national parks such as Banff.  We have been very good at preserving our environments.  Now, we have to do same for water.  When I come back from Europe or Africa, I know how important fresh water is.  Many think the next world war will be a fight for water.  Canada does have fresh water, so we are fortunate. [caption id="attachment_35109" align="alignleft" width="300"] Women for Nature at the Parliamentary Reception in October 2017.[/caption] S: What is the value of being a Woman for Nature? J: It is a wonderful thing to give back, and also saying this is what I stand for.  It defines me. The greatest thing about Women for Nature is that we have a common goal of being interested in Nature, preserving it, and ensuring younger women get involved. It has provided such a wonderful network. S: What do you hope to achieve by being a Woman for Nature? J: I’ve helped set up the mentorship program for young women. Many of them are so talented and simply need more confidence – to feel empowered in their decisions.  Mentorship is having a person with experience at your side to say, why not try it this way.  We’ve only recently launched the program, and hope to see it as a success. S: How would you describe your experience so far at Women for Nature? I love Women for Nature! We have to be involved in nature. Even though you’re giving, you’re getting something back.


Watch the below video of Janet talking about Nature Canada’s amazing Women for Nature and their collective voices!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v1Ku3ddriU
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Spring Bird Feeding: Tips And Tricks To Get Birds Into Your Backyard!
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Spring Bird Feeding: Tips And Tricks To Get Birds Into Your Backyard!

This blog was written by intern Gabriel Planas Why Feed Wild Birds? Spring can be a stressful time for migratory birds, after arriving from their wintering grounds it can be difficult to find the food and resources they need to survive. Many of the berries and seeds these birds depend upon for food will have been eaten over the winter and will not have begun to grow back yet. Furthermore, these birds will also be attempting to build nests, fight for territory, find a mate, and incubate their young. This is no small task due to natural bird habitats are being destroyed by urban and industrial development projects as well as climate change. Image of a rose breasted grosbeakPreparation While well-constructed bird feeders are not necessarily required to feed birds, without one the food you leave out may attract unwanted animals such as squirrels or dominant birds such as starlings, grackles, and squirrels. If you already own a bird feeder, make sure to clean it of any feed from the last season to avoid any mold or possible parasite growth within the feeder. Be aware of what birds occupy your neighborhood to help you select the best ingredients and location for your feeder. Sometimes changing the location can attract or discourage certain animals and species of birds from stealing from your feeder. If you do not own a bird feeder but would like to purchase one, links to purchase high quality bird feeders can be found here and here. Feeding The most important part of feeding birds is the mix of ingredients you use to attract them. Many commercial bird feeder mixes can often be ineffective in enticing more desirable bird species. Products that birds find undesirable such as milo are used to fill up these mixes, resulting in birds picking through the mix, creating a mess bellow the feeder. This mess can often attract unwanted animals or form a sludgy mixture that can make birds sick, depending on the ingredients used. Ingredients for Feeder Image of an eastern bluebird Sunflower Chips: These unshelled sunflower seeds are great for attracting bug-eating birds like robins, warblers and tanagers before bugs resurface for the summer. Also good for attracting Chickadees, nuthatches, house finches and cardinals. Safflower: With its hard-thick shell it can be hard for some birds to consume this seed. It is however, a favorite of chickadees, doves, and sparrows. According to some sources, house sparrows, European starlings and squirrels do not like safflower. Results may vary according to area. Millet: Millet is a common grain that is very popular among ground-feeding birds such as sparrows, doves and cardinals. As this grain is most popular with ground feeding birds, it may be beneficial to serve this from a low-set tray feeder to attract more birds. Peanuts: Peanuts are an impressive source of nutrition for birds such as blue jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers. Unfortunately, they may also attract unwanted animals such as raccoons and squirrels. Mealworms: Mealworms are a great way of attracting bug-eating birds such as blue jays, robins, Wrens, Warblers and Mocking birds Suet: Suet can attract all manner of birds on cool spring days. It is a high-energy food made with the fat found around the kidneys and loin of cattle or sheep designed to keep the stomach of birds full and warm throughout the winter. While suet can spoil quickly in the warmer weather, there are a number of alternative recipes to prevent it from melting that can be found here as well as here. Nectar: Though humming birds require specialized feeders, you can attract them by providing them with homemade nectar, the recipe for which can be found here.

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Women for Nature: Concrete Solutions for Biodiversity Conservation
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Women for Nature: Concrete Solutions for Biodiversity Conservation

[caption id="attachment_36775" align="alignleft" width="150"] Jaime Clifton-Ross[/caption] This blog post was written by Jaime Clifton and provides the summary of the keys points of discussion during the latest Women for Nature E-Dialogue. Changing the Conversation and Nature Canada’s Women for Nature just led the final e-Dialogue from the Biodiversity Conversations: How important are the common loon and polar bear to Canadians series. Over the last 8 months, over 20 female researchers, practitioners, and civil society leaders explored local to global actions and strategies for biodiversity conservation. Since the series began in September 2017, several critical reports have been published. WWF’s 2017 Living Planet Report for Canada in 2017 disclosed that 50% of species in our country are in decline. The newly published 2018 State of the World’s Birds global study states that 1 in 8 birds are now facing the threat of extinction. Furthermore, the world’s greatest forests could lose more than half of all wildlife by the end of the century, according to another WWF study. Given these alarming trends, the protection of biodiversity has never been more imperative. While there were many great recommendations and ideas, here is a snapshot:

  • Indigenous Collaboration and Leadership: Prioritize collaboration and authentic partnerships between Indigenous systems and western systems at all levels. The newly released ICE (Indigenous Circle of Experts) report speaks to re-inventing institutions to reflect a systems-based approach.
  • We are a part of nature, not apart from nature: Our governance systems are profoundly linear and fragmented, and reflect the dominant belief that nature and culture are separate. Seeing ourselves as a part of nature, not apart from nature, even in our cities, will help (re)connect Canadians to biodiversity and is a critical communications strategy. Also, reposition conservation as an urban initiative and challenge to speak to the growing number of urban dwellers in Canada.
  • Investment and Finance: Greater education about the Aichi Targets for the Canadian public, but more specifically, business and investment leaders should be invited to contribute to enabling the financing and financing tools that will be necessary for Canada to reach its goals.
  • Language and Messaging: Given the overwhelming and negative messaging on biodiversity loss, communicate issues clearly and present them in a positive and personal way. Also, showcase successful efforts and innovations to help spur change at the personal, community, provincial, national and international levels.
  • Mapping: Create/expand an interactive and ongoing map of the critical habitat of endangered and near to endangered species and make these priority areas, as a learning and awareness tool.
Now that the series has come to a close, Women for Nature co-chair, Professor Ann Dale will be drafting an action agenda for Canadian decision-makers summarizing the concrete recommendations for biodiversity conservation in Canada.

Imagine if we design with biodiversity in mind, the possibilities that would open up!

Click here, to view the full conversation transcript.


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Best Places to Bird in the Prairies
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Best Places to Bird in the Prairies

Published: May 5 2018 Price: $ 24.95 Authors: John Acorn, Alan Smith & Nicola Koper Published By: Greystone Books


[caption id="attachment_36427" align="alignleft" width="194"] Best Places to Bird in the Prairies by John Acorn, Alan Smith & Nicola Koper[/caption] Written by Nature Canada’s writing intern, Gabriel Planas Best Places to Bird in the Prairies is a wonderful guide, aimed at getting the average Canadian out of their stuffy home and onto the bird populated trails of the prairies. Three of Canada’s most experienced and respected birders came together to give their two cents on the best places to go bird watching in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Each author outlines their favorite birding spots in the province in which they reside, providing a unique personal perspective on each location. Alongside these descriptions by the authors are guides to properly find and observe the birds in each location, which is a huge help to those who will be going birding for their first time. Thankfully, directions are provided on how to find these locations, as many of these places are situated off the beaten track or may require long distance travel to find. Well-designed maps corresponding to each location supplement the directions to give readers a better understanding of the location. While I cannot speak for experienced birders, I believe that these descriptions and birding guides will help even those with prior knowledge have a more rounded experience when visiting these locations. Amusingly, beautiful pictures of the various birds you will find on the trails feature captions that range from cute, to informative, to downright funny. For example, the caption for a picture of a Baby Coot reads “A baby coot, with orange beard and bald head, so ugly it is beautiful.” While the other written sections are less irreverent, they still give off the distinct impression that not only were these authors passionate about birds; they have an absolute blast observing them. This attitude goes a long way in convincing a non-birder, like myself, of a sense of enjoyment I would not normally associate with the activity. The pictures that supplement the content also go a long way in portraying the majesty and mystery of birds, serving as great motivation to find them out on the trails. It is important to note that the introduction provides a brief look into birding ethics. This is important when considering that most people who do not actively participate in bird watching would not know about the ethical implications of an activity like this. Overall, Best Places to Bird in the Prairies provides a fun and high-quality guide for beginner as well as long time birders. Those with little experience are given enough information and encouragement to get themselves out of the house and on the trails, while the personal accounts and birding guides may help give experienced birders a new perspective on areas they may already be familiar with.
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Tell President Trump:  No Oil and Gas Drilling on the Calving Grounds of the Porcupine Caribou
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Tell President Trump: No Oil and Gas Drilling on the Calving Grounds of the Porcupine Caribou

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] One of my best wilderness experiences happened on a rafting trip on the Firth River in northern Yukon in June 2006.  One day, a good part of the Porcupine caribou herd—we counted 10,000--crossed the flooding river and trotted past our camp on their way north to calving grounds on the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic Refuge. Now U.S. President Donald Trump has recklessly decided to open up of the coastal plain to oil and gas development. The population of the Porcupine herd is still strong at 218,000 (unlike many other caribou herds across Canada), but the last thing they need is oil and gas development on their calving grounds. These caribou are extremely important as a food source and culturally to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in northern Yukon. The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is overseeing a 60-day comment period (winding up on June 19) during which folks can comment on the scope of environmental assessment of the drilling program; several other public consultation stages will follow before any drilling can start. Here is the link to the BLM site: https://www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/plans-in-development/alaska/coastal-plain-eis. It is important to note that Canada has taken some significant action to defend these caribou by establishing two national parks (Vuntut and Ivvavik) along the Alaska border. As well,  Canada and U.S. also signed  a treaty in 1987 that requires the two countries to “take appropriate action to conserve the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its habitat”. Oil and gas development in the critical habitat of the calving grounds may well be a violation of the treaty as well as a breach of the human rights of the Vuntut Gwitchin.

Nature Canada urges Canadians to be a voice for conserving the Porcupine Caribou.

Tell President Trump:  no oil and gas drilling on the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou.


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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Canada is pretty lucky; we’re home to many animals that stay year-round annnnd we’re also a perfect summer home for a number of species! Around springtime, Canadians get to enjoy seeing spectacular birds, mammals and fish that migrate to Canada for summer. Some animals have pretty neat characteristics that set them apart. Sometimes it’s a funny appearance, other times it’s a unique behaviour, but there’s always an interesting evolutionary history. Learning about them makes us appreciate how fantastic wildlife actually is! Today’s honourary species is a fan favourite for bird watchers; hummingbirds! Have you ever noticed you can’t really focus on their wings, even if you take a photograph? Ever wonder, how is this tiny bird hovering so fast? Well, today is your day because it’s time to chat about these tiny flyers! Canada has five species of hummingbirds that migrate here during our warm months. The most widespread species is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird ranging from Nova Scotia to Alberta. It’s easy to recognized hummingbirds since before you see them, you’ll hear them. As their common name suggests, hummingbirds make humming sounds as they flap their wings 80 times per second. They can zip through gardens and flowerbeds foraging for food and hover in the air for long periods of time. All that flying needs energy, and hummingbirds will feed on nectar primarily, but also tree sap, small insects and pollen. A hummingbird will consume about twice their body weight in nectar per day! They forage for tubular-shaped flowers that fit their long beaks and tongues. When calculated, it’s a lot of non-stop flying! And then, add in the migration mileage every year, it’s no wonder their tiny bodies had to accommodate. Scientists use newer computer technologies to make 3D stimulations of hummingbird aerodynamics. Results show that hummingbirds have evolved a balanced middle between the insect and the avian flight mechanisms. A hummingbird’s wing is more triangular-shaped then other birds. Their shoulder-to-wrist bones are compacted near their abdomen, leaving a straighter wrist-to-phalanges. This shape allows optimal aerodynamics for lift, wingbeat, and manoeuverability for both hovering and rapid back-and-forth movement. Physiologically, hummingbirds can uptake oxygen very fast, allowing the heart to beat faster and constantly supply oxygen to their muscles to perform. Their metabolic rate is fast and surprisingly efficient despite the main source of energy being a sugary drink! Even their muscle-mass-specific metabolism, or how each muscle uses up fuel, was found to have the highest rates for vertebrates. Hummingbirds inhabit a variety of regions from the tropics to the mountains, however changes in altitude and air chemistry doesn’t seem to be a problem for a hummingbird’s cardiac and respiration systems to adapt. Honestly, hummingbirds should make any athletes jealous!   In all, hummingbirds represent many extremes in the natural world. Being so small and so fast is just what we see on the outside. Biologists want to continue studying hummingbird physiology, because there are still unanswered physics related questions! In the meantime, with springtime arriving, keep some binoculars handy to scope out hummingbirds in your area. You can watch them zip through your gardens, flying backwards and forwards, hear their wings humming and see their evolutionary adaptions for yourself!

Tune in every month for many more fantastic animals to read about!


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Sources http://www.simplywildcanada.com/hummingbirds-in-canada/ https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/sounds https://www.nature.com/news/hummingbird-flight-has-a-clever-twist-1.9639 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12124359 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27595850 http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/colibri-hummingbird/En/Hummingbird/The-Life-Of-The-Hummingbird/diet.html

Environment Canada Failed to Provide National Biodiversity Leadership
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Environment Canada Failed to Provide National Biodiversity Leadership

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] "Environment and Climate Change Canada has failed to provide national leadership to conserve Canada’s biodiversity," says Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Environment Commissioner’s Spring 2018 audit report focused on federal performance with respect to six of the nineteen so-called Aichi Targets developed in 2010 under the Convention for Biological Diversity. In her report, Gelfand said that “Environment and Climate Change Canada has focused its leadership efforts on attending international meetings on behalf of Canada.” “(T)he Department narrowly defined its role as Canada’s National Focal Point… “The Department’s priorities and efforts as National Focal Point did not include working with federal, provincial, and territorial partners to identify specific actions and initiatives required to achieve Canada’s biodiversity targets.” “(T)he Department did not establish an overall plan to meet Canada’s 2020 biodiversity targets . . . We also found that the Department did not define the actions and initiatives needed to achieve the targets.” Nature Canada is not surprised by the findings of the Environment Commissioner, given recent reports that populations of half of Canada’s wildlife species are shrinking, and populations of shorebirds and insectivore and grassland birds are falling rapidly. However, Nature Canada is encouraged by Environment Minister McKenna’s so-called “Pathway” initiative to work with provincial and territorial governments to establish protected areas representing 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater (which is one of these Aichi targets).  Nature Canada is also encouraged by the 2018 federal budget, which set aside $1.3 billion over five years to protect natural areas and species at risk.


For more about the Commissioners report, read the following, Federal government not doing enough to manage risk of fish farms, environmental watchdog says, from Susan Lunn at CBC News.
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Reflection: Inclusivity in the Outdoors
Waterlillies, Susanne Swayze
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Reflection: Inclusivity in the Outdoors

This guest blog was contributed by the Lilly Paddlers, Jocelyn Dockerty and Ledah McKellar.


Let’s have a look at a lot of our Outdoor Education programs. Who are your students? Are they diverse? Does your school intentionally try to provide outdoor education for a diverse cross section of their student populations? Or is it the other way? Are our outdoor education programs present simply to entice the typical outdoor education student? You know the one. They are comfortable outside. They have used a Leatherman before. You also have to remind them not to bring it to school. They climb rocks and stuff. Their parent(s) may provide recreational opportunities that include fishing, camping, hiking, or even a bonfire or two. But what about the other children? What about the less than athletic children who are creative geniuses? Our future writers? Our future computer programmers? Our female students who may be awkward and clumsy and scream when they see ants… even if they are annoying as all else? Our students of colour? Are you enticing them to our outdoor education programs? If we are to assess our outdoor education programming in public education, a great starting point is to consider who is facilitating said program. Having strong male mentors is incredibly important for young male students. Therefore, having male teachers in a school setting is invaluable. However, when outdoor education is stereotypically dominated by masculine white men, it is important to be conscientious of how that may be affecting who enters your outdoor education programming. Here are some following steps to reflect on your outdoor education program and how you can branch out to a more diverse cross-section of your student body.

If your outdoor education program is facilitated by traditionally masculine men, consider hiring a someone who doesn’t fit that role to co-facilitate your program.

Traditionally masculine men are still awesome. Students simply need to see that all people can connect to our nature outside. In today’s world of a warming climate and an urbanizing population, it is oh so important to encourage a connection between youth/children and their natural environment. This means that our outdoor education programming should attract ALL students. Not all students are enticed to learn in an environment facilitated by a traditionally masculine men as not all students want to learn only from women. If we want to grow all students’ respect and love for their natural environment (and reduce the effects of climate change), it is important to facilitate a program that entices all students to connect to nature.

If the only candidates available for an outdoor education program are traditionally masculine men, say yes to guest speakers.

Are there no or very few women, people of color, or people from the LGBTQI+ community applying to teach Outdoor Education in your school communities? That is unfortunate, but you can still create a welcoming environment! For starters, say you cannot hire a woman within your outdoor education program. Well, the world is full of women – working in forestry, in water treatment, in outdoor recreation and leisure, in nature writing. The list is long; there’s a lot of women in the world! Indigenous communities are also graced with the presence of awesome female Elders. So go find that female forester or awesome 70 year-old Elder. Invite them to your class. Most people say yes when the invite is given. Show your students that women have relationships with nature too! One of the more recent social media world communities I am loving is Unlikely Hikers started by Jenny Bruso. It is a virtual community that highlights people of color and people from the LGBTQ+ community who love hiking. It’s not that surprising. Hiking is pretty great. Your queer student body would also appreciate knowing other queer people who do this activity. We are beyond the discussion of why the needs of queer students need to be met, but it is important to recognize they deal with self-doubt, bullying, and isolation to a larger extent than the rest of the student body. Whether you are teaching outdoor education in Red Lake or Toronto, (1) connect yourself to the queer community, (2) find those lovers of the outdoors, and (3) invite them to your class. It just takes an email to that Pride Parade coordinator and they will know who to ask. Your guest could simply share a nearby outdoors trip they have done. They could share more if they are willing. Break the stereotypes, and make your class is more inclusive for your LGTBQ students while you do it!

Ask Yourself: Is My Outdoor Education Programming Welcoming to Newcomers to Canada?

For a variety of complex reasons, many recent newcomers to Canada do not have access to outdoor opportunities, are busy settling into a new country, or do not feel comfortable in outdoor activities. Some recent newcomers are. Either way, it is important to reflect on how we are increasing the accessibility of our outdoor education programming to those who do not solely have voyageur, pilgrim, or farm settler roots with European descent. By including those with different backgrounds and connections to natural environments, we all learn. People of all countries have connections to nature that we can learn from. Make sure that your programming encourages newcomer students to feel welcome. An invitation and explanation of your program may be all it takes. Think of how much you could learn too!

Consult These Wonderful Resources

The Lily Paddlers are late to the game of inclusivity in the world of outdoor education. Consider consulting the following resources to help improve your outdoor education programming. The best, or simply put, the true educators never stop learning. Go learn. Read this stuff.
  • Outdoor Foundation has published this website full of news articles, reports, journal articles, and more that discuss outdoor inclusivity.
    • Favorite: Social Difference, Justice, and Outdoor Education. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education. Winter 2003, 15(1). Available at: http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/SocialDifference.pdf  This issue of Pathways (a wonderfully Ontarioan journal) features many different discussions related to inclusivity in outdoor education.
  • The Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education also has this helpful website with articles “that make the case for why inclusiveness is important to the environmental movement and environmental education.”
    • Favorite: “Facing the Future” article by Audubon Magazine.
  • The Center for Diversity and the Environment is an excellent organization out of Oregon that values the power of racial and ethnic diversity to transform the environmental movement. Their website is full of resources to help explain why inclusivity matters for everyone.

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A Warming Planet – Can Wildlife Keep up with the Changes?
Roosevelt Elk. photo by Brian Miller.
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A Warming Planet – Can Wildlife Keep up with the Changes?

This blog is written by Steve Gahbauer, who has been regularly contributing Nature Notes for many years.


It is undeniable that climate change is one of the greatest problems that we are facing around the world. It is redrawing the boundaries of where plants, animals and living organisms can survive. The problem is that not only is the climate changing but that it is changing so fast. Nature always adapts, but can it do so quickly enough? The fast global warming creates a whole host of problems affecting birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, aquatic creatures, insects and plants in different ways. Roughly half of all animal species are on the move. The average range of poleward shift for land-based species has been pegged at between six and 17 km per decade. Marine species are moving more than four times as fast.

The indirect impacts of shifting of species ranges are just as profound. Climate change is altering the distribution of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, of insects that transmit the dengue and Zika viruses, and of various ticks. It also affects the determination of sex for animal offspring whose sex is determined by temperature. For Green Sea Turtles it is the temperature outside the egg that influences the sex of the growing embryo. This endangers their sex-balanced future ina warmer world. Some sea turtle populations are already so skewed by heat that the young reptiles are almost entirely female. [caption id="attachment_36499" align="alignright" width="300"] Maple Leaves, photo by Bea Gravelle.[/caption] Sugar Maples are also threatened by climate change. Warmer temperatures and dry conditions are a predicament for this drought-sensitive species. It has been observed that there is an earlier bud burst in Sugar Maples and an earlier flowering period for aspens. In fact, based on climate records from the previous 100 years, Canada’s growing season has increased considerably. Tree lines have also expanded upward and northward. Studies demonstrate that climate change has already an impact on Canada’s forests. As new species move into Canada, there’s always the risk of some of them being or becoming invasive. Just look at the Mountain Pine Beetle and the devastation it brought to British Columbia and Alberta forests, and the work of the destructive Spruce Bark Beetle in the Yukon. There is also the loss of aspens in the southern boreal forest and the western aspen parkland. The Gypsy Moth, a defoliating forest pest, is causing havoc in woodlands. The Kudzu plant, native to eastern Asia and introduced initially to the United States, is now spreading and taking over anything in its path. Caribou were once one of Canada’s widespread animals, but today their numbers are dropping dramatically. Boreal caribou rely on the boreal forest and wetland ecosystems for survival. In northeastern Alberta, industrial activity has resulted in the destruction and fragmentation of boreal caribou habitat, which also increases wolf predation on caribou. Seven out of 12 boreal caribou herds in Alberta are already in decline.

If we want to keep this threatened species from continuing down the road to extinction, we need to protect its habitat and shield caribou from the effects of human industrial activities, as well as from the consequences of climate change. Global warming increases rainfall that freezes on the ground and blocks the growth of plants and lichen on which caribou feed. It also means more insect harassment, which interrupts feeding and drains caribou energies. Inadequate industrial development planning affects migratory habits and caribou calving grounds, leading to reduced birthrate and lower survival of the calves. Where migratory caribou herds live, the environment is changing fast.

There is no doubt that climate change is having a serious impact on wildlife. Will some species be able to change their habitat? Which animals might we find in our own backyard that we never expected? Just how dire will the future look for our beloved species? One way for species to adapt is to shift or expand their range. There are many examples of species that are already on the move in response to climate change, or at least partially due to climate change. For instance, there are now Triggerfish (a tropical fish species) in Maritime waters, Giant Swallowtail Butterflies (once restricted to extreme southwestern Ontario) are now spreading northward in the province, and Blacklegged Ticks (deer ticks) are increasing their range in North America. As temperatures warm it also brings other issues for many species. Gray Jays, for instance, don’t migrate and therefore stash food in the fall to help them through the winter. Warmer autumns are causing a lot of their stored food to decay before it freezes. [caption id="attachment_36497" align="alignleft" width="300"] Polar Bear and Cub in Churchill Manitoba. Photo by Charmaine Paquette.[/caption] Arctic areas are warming quicker than other areas and sea ice melting along with glaciers and ice caps has far-reaching impacts. There is more at risk from a warming Arctic than just Polar Bears – there are also the Atlantic Walrus, Ringed Seals, Black Guillemots and many more that are affected. Atlantic Walrus’ like to climb out on ice or islands. With climate change, many areas are now ice-free and with rising sea levels some islands are no longer above water. Climate change also brings with it another threat for this species – increased shipping and people – definite threats to this sensitive and easily disturbed animal. Ringed Seals typically give birth in early April in areas that are dug in snowdrifts. But with warmer springs, these birth lairs can collapse, exposing the pups to predators, like Polar Bears. Black Guillemots are birds of the northern seas. Arctic Cod was the preferred food for the parents to feed the chicks, but with Arctic Cod becoming scarce due to an increase in sea surface temperatures, chicks are now fed sculpin which doesn’t offer near the same amount of nourishment. Not all species are able to move north and it seems that for many of them, even for those that can, climate change is happening too quickly for them to keep up. Even if they are able to expand their range, it doesn’t happen without consequences. Entering new territories could mean more competition for food and interactions with new species. Some species are already at their northern limit. Where would they go? While some animals are able to respond to these changes, many species won’t be able to move fast enough, which may result in die-offs if they are not able to adapt in other ways. Even some birds and butterflies – mobile species – are not able to expand their ranges fast enough to keep up with the speed of climate change, and for some there may be nowhere else to go. [caption id="attachment_35058" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of Northern Leopard Frog Northern Leopard Frog by Elena Kreuzbert[/caption] A warming planet changes the spread of invasive species (both animals and plants) and habitat loss threatens Canada’s ecologically significant species. Time is running out for the Northern Leopard Frog in the prairies and the Rocky Mountains; there are many more species of flora and fauna that are affected by global warming. We cannot continue to simply ignore climate change. Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment. While global warming has happened in the past, it is – this time -- hastened by human activities. It is up to us to slow it down and mitigate its impact. Wild species are worth protecting. Let’s remember that we have a responsibility to other creatures and to the planet. Let us all do our part. Steve Gahbauer
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Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Toronto Wildlife Centre, CBC documentary, and field notes. Nature Notes are posted as blogs on the website of Nature Canada. Earlier editions are archived on the websites of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre and of the Rouge Valley Naturalists.

Hazell: Testimony at the House of Commons for Bill C-69
Parliament of Canada, House of Commons.
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Hazell: Testimony at the House of Commons for Bill C-69

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] On Thursday, April 18th, Stephen Hazell, the Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada testified before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The Committee is considering Bill C-69, an omnibus bill to reform laws governing environmental assessment, the National Energy Board, and navigable waters. Read the following brief for an update on Nature Canada's position of Bill C-69. Stephen remarked that the proposed Impact Assessment Act includes important reforms such as establishing a strong Impact Assessment Agency; requiring assessments to consider a project's contribution to sustainability, Indigenous knowledge and Canada's climate commitments; and increasing transparency in decisions by requiring the Minister and Cabinet to provide reasons for approvals.


Nature Canada argued in it’s brief  and in Stephen’s testimony that the Impact Assessment Act needed amendments to achieve the following:
  • Restore legal requirements and reduce Ministerial discretion to reduce process uncertainty and potential political interference
  • Ensure assessments of projects likely to have adverse environmental effects that are subject to a federal decision
  • Ensure meaningful public participation in impact assessments
  • Put the federal house in order by strengthening impact assessments of projects on federal lands or that are federally financed
  • Restrict the role of energy regulators in the review panel process
  • Establish a legislative framework that ensures that regional assessment and strategic assessment tools are workable.

If you want to protect nature in Canada, take this opportunity to restore and strengthen legal protections by signing our petition!


After the committee hearing, Stephen touched upon other facets of Bill C-69 and the Impact Assessment Act that would effect nature in Canada, such as the proposed hosting of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78n_ywIHOgQ&feature=youtu.be
Maura Forrest at National Post quoted Stephen, highlighting that "Environmental groups point out that the government has yet to publish its project list, meaning it's still unclear which activities will be subject to assessment. Even those projects on the list won't necessarily be assessed, because the government can decide they don't require review after a new early planning phase the Liberals have introduced."

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