Diversity in Nature – Black Birders Week 2021
Black Birder’s Week is back! It’s a week-long celebration from May 31 to June 5 to highlight Black birders, naturalists and nature enthusiasts through a series of online events. Started last year in response to the racist attack on Christian Cooper last May as he was birdwatching in Central Park and the police brutality against Black people across North America, this week aims to promote, visibilize and normalize Black people in nature. Organized by a group of Black scientists, BlackAFinSTEM, the goal is to highlight specific challenges Black people face outdoors.
In support of Black Birders Week, Nature Canada is amplifying this important effort by promoting Black Canadians in nature. As part of Nature Canada’s commitment to anti-racism and justice, we believe that it is essential that there is an increase in representation of Black and other racialized Canadians in our nature spaces.
Peter Soroye’s love of nature was fostered early by his frequent family trips to Algonquin National Park.
Being immersed in nature, participating in hiking, canoeing and foraging gave Peter a huge love and appreciation for the animals and plants that surrounded him, sparking his career in conservation biology.
Peter has had the opportunity to visit amazing landscapes, from the boreal forests of Canada, to the “sky islands” of Arizona and the savannas of South Africa — each visit reigniting his commitment to protect and appreciate our natural world.
All images courtesy of Peter Soroye.
Dr. Emily Choy
A Weston, NSERC, and L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University and Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dr. Emily Choy has had the opportunity to work in many remote areas across the Canadian Arctic; from Devon Island, Nunavut, to Kendall Island, Northwest Territories.
Her work highlights the effects of climate change on thick-billed murres, an Arctic seabird with a colony of 30,000 breeding pairs at Coat Island in Northern Hudson Bay, Nunavut.
Dr. Choy is very passionate about science communication and is involved in many science outreach initiatives, including Earth Rangers in their Northern Project to teach kids about the conservation of Arctic wildlife.
A National Geographic documentary ignited a deep connection to nature for five-year-old Julian Victor. Flash forward to now, living in Toronto, Ontario, working on projects for National Geographic and some legendary wildlife filmmakers (Dereck and Beverly Joubert) and producing wildlife segments for Breakfast Television — it’s clear that Julian’s passion for nature has intersected with his passions.
Always on the lookout for diverse conservations and stories to raise awareness of our natural world, Julian is fond of preserving wildlife thriving in bustling urban environments, and looking for ways to educate people about them.
“I was always in awe of nature and to this day, whenever I go on wildlife adventures, I’m reminded to stay in the present. I stay focused on the environment, the sounds and smells to give me a sense of peace of mind and clarity. It’s a connection that is greatly needed especially when we need a recharge.”
All images courtesy of Julian Victor.
When not traveling the world, Melissa Hafting is an eBird reviewer for the province and runs the BC Rare Bird Alert website. Melissa is a conservationist passionate about educating about the plights birds face such as habitat loss, degradation and climate change.
Passionate about seeing more women and women of colour in this field, and working to ensure birding and environmental spaces are truly diverse and safe for all — In 2014, Melissa Hafting founded the BC Young Birders Program; driven by the principle that everyone was welcome, aiming to bring diverse youth together to enjoy the natural world.
All images courtesy of Melissa Hafting.
With a Master’s degree in population dynamics of eastern grey kangaroos at Université de Sherbrooke, Charles’ passion for nature arose during two amazing trips to the Galápagos Islands — uncovering a hidden enthusiasm for the intersection of science, communication, and storytelling.
After spending significant time in Australia observing his study species and framing research, Mr. Plaisir is tackling a new challenge; a high school teaching fellowship and Master’s at UPenn. An avid storyteller with a background in filmmaking and documentaries, we invite you to follow Charles’ work and projects online:
All images courtesy of Charles Plaisir.