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Camp Smitty: Providing a quintessential Canadian experience
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Camp Smitty: Providing a quintessential Canadian experience

This blog was written by Halima Sadia, a public relations student from Algonquin College and intern at Nature Canada. On June 26th, 2018, I accompanied Jill Sturdy, our Naturehood program Manager on a visit to Camp Smitty located in Eganville, Ontario. My name is Halima Sadia and I am a public relations intern at Nature Canada and I have never been to a summer camp. Although Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders, many Canadians do not have the luxury of enjoying it. This is especially true for new Canadian families. Since 1923, the Boys and Girls Club has provided a safe and supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life. Every summer, Camp Smitty hosts four 10-day camps, where children and youth discover their dreams and grow up to be healthy, successful and active participants of society. Camp Smitty is a free summer camp offered to children who wouldn't otherwise have the means to attend. Many of these families are new residents to Canada and in some cases, refugees.  During our visit, the Camp Manager, Rosie Warden, gathered all the senior staff and counselors for Jill's presentation. The  objective was to train the camp counselors on our NatureHood DIY NatureBlitz toolkit. The Toolkit is straightforward and can be helpful for every age group. The Nature Blitz is a fun educational experience that puts you in control of observing nature in a given area. The objective is to help the campers learn more about the natural world and learn to identify common birds and plants found at camp, which they can take home and expand their knowledge about local biodiversity and share with their friends and family. Materials required; checklist, pencil and of course, nature.  The purpose of our NatureHood program is to connect urban Canadians to nearby nature, and get people — especially children — outside and active right where they live. We are hoping that by exploring the nature around us, we can shape the minds of the next generation to respect and care for it. Nature Canada has provided Camp Smitty with all the tools required to make a it a summer of nature exploration. We even provided materials in Arabic, so campers can share it with their families when they get home.  Thanks to a grant provided by the Ottawa Community Foundation, the goal of this project is to incorporate NatureHood activities at Camp Smitty, and provide nature-based learning opportunities to help kids at camp foster a relationship with nature. For many kids this will be an introduction to nature-based exploratory learning. There are many benefits to spending time in nature including promoting mental and physical health and overall well-being. While participants will be immersed in nature during their time at camp, there is currently no nature-based programming. The NatureHood camp program will help fill this gap, and fit well with the Boys and Girls Club “Outdoor Enthusiasts” theme, one of multiple themes the camp kids choose. After the presentation, the Senior staff (many of whom work at the BGCO Clubhouses) were also excited to explore ways they can incorporate NatureHood programming during the school-year. We hope that his project serves as a template for other Boys and Girls Clubs across Canada to adopt. Growing up in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, I had never been to summer camp, and had no clue what I was getting into when we first arrived at the camp. It was lunchtime so we headed to the dining room where we were greeted by the Camp's Assistant Manager, Matt Singer. That’s when I heard the loud chanting so I peeped into the hall to see tables filled with camp counselors, singing their lunch call as they formed a line into the kitchen. I made my way to the back of the line, about to experience my first camp meal. What I was picking up was a sense of unity and fun and I wanted in. I sat down with the Senior staff and they explained how the camp works, common rules to follow and all the fun activities they had planned out for the campers. After lunch I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the camp and learned about all the activities that take place. At one point I looked at Jill and said,  

“Thank you for bringing me along on this trip because even though my time to be a camper has passed, I can appreciate how much summer camp can help you grow. I am grateful to be out in nature in a safe place surrounded by people who are determined to make this a memorable experience.“
  So today I am going to leave you with a couple things I learned about Camp Smitty and hopefully this serves as a summer camp guide to you.
    1. Beat the heat. Hydrate yourself, challenge yourself to drink 3L of water every day. Remember that animals feel the heat as well, so be mindful of bees, birds and other animals you might encounter at camp. Notify your counselors right away so they can take the necessary steps.
    2. Meet your new role models. Be ready to meet campers, counselors and staff from different walks of life. Being a camp counselor is no easy job but over the next couple weeks, they will become your friend, mentor and most importantly role model.
    3. Time flies. You would think that two weeks is a long time but when you are having fun, time moves quickly. It’s important to be present and live in the moment. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer! Get excited before every activity (even laundry!)
    4. Nurture Nature. Be kind to the nature around you and don’t litter. You don’t have to stop learning just because it’s summer. Use this as an opportunity to learn something new about nature and the animals around you every day. Use Nature Canada’s NatureBlitz for some outdoor activities.
    5. Expect to leave the camp as a completely different person. By the time you get on the bus and head back home, reflect on everything you have learned, all the new experiences and memories and the amazing people. The things you learned over the summer will have a profound impact on you; the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but a summer at camp will change you for the better!

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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas

This blog was written by writing intern Gabriel Planas Over the history of nature conservation in Canada, parks and protected areas have been little more than backdrops to human recreation rather than concerted efforts to preserve natural environments. As a result, these projects often forced indigenous populations to relocate or imposed heavy jurisdictions that eliminated Indigenous practices and economies that benefited Canada’s biodiversity. Fortunately, in 2015 the Indigenous Circle of Elders (ICE) was formed to advise the Federal Government of Canada on ways in which Indigenous communities can contribute to Canada’s commitment to reaching the Aichi targets by 2020. These targets were created in 2010 during the Conference of Parties in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture of Japan when countries from around the world, adopted a plan regarding biodiversity. In order to meet these targets, the federal government has been working in tandem with ICE in order to establish Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) around the country. IPCAs focus on protecting and conserving ecosystems through indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. Indigenous communities in these areas take on the responsibility of protecting and conserving ecosystems. While the individual conservation objectives of each IPCA will differ, all of them endeavor to elevate Indigenous rights and responsibilities, by affirming the validity of Indigenous legal traditions, customary and cultural practices as well as their abilities to help conserve biodiversity in Canada. [caption id="attachment_34526" align="alignleft" width="366"]Image of a Semipalmated Sandpiper Semipalmated Sandpiper[/caption] IPCAs present a unique opportunity to heal both the land and the people who inhabit it by moving towards true reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settler societies. Things once withheld or unavailable to these communities may be developed through these areas, such as a stable foundation for local Indigenous economies, opportunities for Indigenous peoples to reconnect with the land and the revitalization of indigenous languages. The promoting of respect for the knowledge systems, protocols and ceremonies of Indigenous peoples provide an opportunity for Canadians to formulate a greater understanding of Indigenous cultures. While these areas mainly centre on promoting Indigenous communities and their cultural independence, IPCAs have profound benefits for Canadians. These areas have the ability to alleviate the stress of unsustainable human and industrial development. Indigenous groups who will operate these areas integrate holistic approaches to conservation of biodiversity that results in healthier ecosystems. These ecosystems in turn provide cleaner air and water which contribute to healthier populations and a reduction of Canada’s contribution to climate change. It is vital to both our environment and Canada’s obligation to reconciliation that areas like these are supported. They allow Indigenous communities to flourish in ways that were previously unavailable to them and promotes their culture practices in a positive manner that may just help Canada reach its Aichi target by 2020.

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8 Things to do this Summer: As told by Canadian Turtles
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8 Things to do this Summer: As told by Canadian Turtles

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit.

There are roughly 320 species of turtles around the globe and Canada is home to 8 species of freshwater turtles (and 4 species of marine turtles). That’s a fair amount considering that turtles are reptiles, hence cold-blooded, so you wouldn’t think that they would inhabit Canada’s naturally colder environments. Well they do! Turtles may hibernate for a chunk of they year, but come April/May to October, they are out and about, doing their favourite pasttimes. This here is a list of things to do this summer as told by turtles!

1. SNORKEL like Spiny Softshell Turtles! If there’s one odd-looking turtle, it’s got to be the Softshells. These are a group of turtles that have a flattened leathery carapace due to the lack scutes (turtle term for scales) and elongated nostrils into tubular cavities. They have an aquatic lifestyle and can be seen submerged under water with their snout out for air. [caption id="attachment_36930" align="alignright" width="171"] Painted Turtle, photo by Susanne Swayze.[/caption] 2. PICNIC like the Snapping Turtles! Now Snappers are definitely the foodies of the bunch. They are active omnivorous hunters so they aren’t picky eaters. Snapping turtles are quite large with robust carapaces. They have flexible necks and powerful jaws to snap-snap at food items. 3. SWIMMING like the Eastern Musk Turtles! These little guys love to spend time in slow moving creeks and ponds. If it’s got vegetation, all the better since then musk turtles can snack and swim! 4. SUN BASKING like the Painted Turtles! One of the most common species, they sure like the sun. They can be seen in groups lined up on logs soaking up some rays on beautiful sunny days. This also makes for a great photo opportunity from afar! 5. NATURE WALK like the Blanding’s Turtles! Probably the secret to their longevity since these turtles can live past 70 years old! They are known to wander from their nesting sites for good long walks of exploring and foraging. [caption id="attachment_36929" align="alignright" width="168"] Blanding's Turtle, photo by Beatrice Laporte.[/caption] 6. STOMPING like the Wood turtles! These turtles got their name from their shell’s appearance as they age. Unlike other species, they don’t shed their scutes so wear as it ages resembling wood. They also have an active hunting method; stomping the earth! This stimulates juicy worms beneath to come out and voila lunchtime! 7. HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS like the Spotted Turtles! These turtles are most social of the bunch. Females can be seen in groups for nesting sites, basking, and hibernating. 8. YOGA like the Map Turtles! You see, turtles know how to stretch! Map turtles can be seen with stretched out limbs and necks as they bask in the sun. And they can hold their position for long periods of time that can make any yoga master jealous!
Now, before you get all ready to turtle this summer, there are a couple of more things to keep in mind.

All 8 species of Canada’s freshwater turtles are in need of our help! It is getting harder to them to be turtles when their habitats are decreasing, their homes are being polluted, and more roads with fast cars are causing fatal injuries.

Next time you see a turtle crossing sign on the road, slow down and keep an eye out for a nature walker! If you need to move it for its safety, move it in the direction it was going in!

For more tips on how to help turtles - read our most recent blog post on saving turtles.


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Join Us for Bird Day 2018!
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Join Us for Bird Day 2018!

Join Nature Canada in celebrating World Migratory Bird Day with the Ottawa Children's Festival on Saturday, May 12th! Celebrations will be held at LeBreton Flats in Ottawa, and will be kicking off at 10:00 AM.


Nature Canada will be leading three Guided Nature Walks at 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM and 2:30 PM.  These walks will be lead by Nature Canada's Naturalist Director and resident bird-expert, Ted Cheskey, as well as other expert naturalists. These walks will enable everyone to explore their surroundings and discover the birds species with whom they share their local urban spaces. Between the guided nature walks there will also be Birds of Prey Flight Shows with Falcon Ed at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Falcon Ed is a company that specializes in falconry, training birds of prey, ecological control and educational presentations. You can learn more at: http://fauconeduc.biz/. [caption id="attachment_32840" align="alignnone" width="940"]Image of 2016 Bird Day Event 2016 Bird Day Event. Photography by Nina Stavlund[/caption]

Schedule for the day

Here is the schedule for all activities in which Nature Canada will be involved at the World Migratory Bird Day event in Ottawa, in conjunction with the Ottawa Children's Festival: [custom_table style="1"]
10:00 AM  Opening Ceremony
10:30 AM  Guided Nature Walk (45 mins)
 11:15 AM  Birds of Prey Flight Show by Falcon Ed
 12:00 PM

Welcome from Environment and Climate, Change Minister, Catherine McKenna

 12:30 PM Guided Nature Walk (90 mins)
 1:30 PM Birds of Prey Flight Show by Falcon Ed
All Day Activities at the Nature Canada booth
[/custom_table] Our local partner, Earth Path will have some bird-related activities for kids at their booth between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Earth Path is a non-profit organization based in the Ottawa region, dedicated to fostering meaningful relationships between people and the natural world. For more information on Earth Path, please visit their official website. For more information on the many fun and interactive activities that will be taking place at the Ottawa Children's Festival, please visit their official website. Nature Canada would like to thank Science Odyssey for their financial support for the World Migratory Bird Day event in Ottawa. Science Odyssey is Canada's largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, featuring fun and inspiring experiences in museums, research centres, laboratories and classrooms from coast to coast.  Without them, we wouldn't be able to welcome back the birds! For more information on their mission and other events, visit their official website.

Plan your trip to Nature Canada’s World Migratory Bird Day!

The Ottawa World Migratory Bird Day event will be held at LeBreton Flats, off the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway, directly in front of the Canadian War Museum at 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa ON  K1A 0M8. For those commuting by bus, the closest transit station is the LeBreton Flats Station. Those that are planning on commuting by car, consult the information on indoor parking at the Canadian War Museum.
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Who inspires you? | Remembering Great Canadian Naturalists
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Who inspires you? | Remembering Great Canadian Naturalists

This blog was written by Nature Canada guest blogger Sherry Nigro.


Most Canadians regard Nature as part of our collective identity - but where does our connection to Nature begin? 

Much of the credit lies with great Canadian naturalists past and present.  Their ability to celebrate, educate and advocate, for the geography, flora and fauna of Canada, has inspired generations of naturalists.  They are explorers, scientists, teachers, environmentalists, policy makers, health care providers, spiritual leaders and artists.  They are farmers, fishermen and hunters.  They are parents, grandparents, friends and social clubs.  Here are a few of the Canadian naturalists who have inspired me.
Indigenous peoples The wisdom of Canada's First Nations and Inuit has always been captivating to me- how they lived in harmony with the natural world based on their deep knowledge of plants and animals, the cycles of Nature and their respectful spirituality.  Imagine the hardships of the prairie blizzard, the mosquito infested boreal forests, the heaving relentless oceans.  Survival depended on their ability to create shelter and clothing, obtain food, and utilize the offerings of the natural world.  And it depended on their ability to see beauty, find joy, and develop a sacred connection to Mother Earth.  How fortunate we have been to have these wise stewards and environmental champions as part of our Canadian heritage. [caption id="attachment_36261" align="alignright" width="150"] David Suzuki, picture from the David Suzuki Foundation.[/caption] David Suzuki He is a passionate environmentalist who came into my living room to explain the mysteries of Nature.  Named one of the greatest Canadians of all times in 2004, David Suzuki has inspired hundreds of thousands of Canadians to care about the natural world. David Thompson Perhaps most famous for his cartography skills in mapping the interior of the continent in the late 1700s, David Thompson's keen observational skills introduced the Canadian wilderness to Europeans.  He was prolific with interest in astronomy (indigenous peoples knew him as Man Who Looks at Stars or Stargazer), plants, animals, birds and natural phenomenon. [caption id="attachment_36265" align="alignleft" width="150"] Robert Bateman, pictured by Acadia University.[/caption] Many of the early explorers were naturalists; Henry Kelsey, Alexander Mackenzie, Samuel Hearne, Anthony Henday left journals that document their travels detailing geographical, biological and sociological aspects of the great Canadian wilderness[1]. [caption id="attachment_36617" align="alignright" width="150"] Mabel Frances Whittemore.[/caption] Robert Bateman What David Suzuki did with television, Robert Bateman did with a paint brush.  His detailed renderings of animals in their element have raised awareness of the strength, grace, ferocity and fragility found in Nature. Reginald Whittemore & Mabel Frances Reginald Whittemore founded what would eventually become Nature Canada in 1939 when he launched the magazine Canadian Nature. The magazine was published in honour of Reginald’s late wife, Mabel Frances — an educator and nature lover whose main goal in life was to share her passion for nature with others.
Other great Canadian naturalists include Catherine Parr Trail (1802-1899) who was one of the first to document wildflowers and native plants.  Leon Abel Provancher (1820-1892) was a Catholic priest and naturalist who is known as the father of Natural History in Canada.  Ian McTaggart Cowan (1910-2010) is the father of Canadian Ecology.  Jack Miner (1865-1944) used the practice of banding to better understand migratory birds. He established bird sanctuaries that still exist today.  Louise de Kiriline Lawrence (1894-1992) became a renowned ornithologist. Of course I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the influence of my parents.   Both were born of Saskatchewan homesteader stock and have a deep respect and love for Nature. They always made time to share their discoveries- the first crocus of the spring, moose tracks in the yard, an osprey nest, a spectacular sunset.  There is research that shows that parents are instrumental in helping children connect to nature[2]. Research aside, my relationship with Nature is very much related to my parents' values and beliefs. At a time when we worry that Canadians are losing touch with Nature, it is important to remember the great accomplishments of our naturalists, and how they engage, educate and inspire us, whether they are career environmentalists, weekend hobbyists or great bed time storytellers.

Tell me, who inspires you?


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[1]Waiser, Bill.   2016.  A World We Have Lost:  Saskatchewan before 1905.  Fifth House Limited. Markham, Ontario. [2] The David Suzuki Foundation. 2012. Youth Engagement with Nature and the Outdoors: a summary of survey findings.

An Artist’s Profile: Suzanne Paleczny
HumanNature, Suzanne Paleczny
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An Artist’s Profile: Suzanne Paleczny

I was looking forward to the opportunity to interview Suzanne Paleczny. Her focus on the human relationship with Nature is very relevant to me, as I find myself brought back to it time and time again in my work and life. I believe that the way we understand our relationships with the land dictate how we react to our environment, how we make decisions, and how we shape our culture.
This blog post was a collaboration between our featured artist, Suzanne Paleczny and Chloe Dragon Smith, who interviewed Suzanne. [caption id="attachment_36001" align="alignleft" width="150"] Chloe Dragon Smith[/caption]

Part 1: Suzanne/Nature

First, I wanted to understand a bit about Suzanne’s personal relationship with Nature. Learning about Suzanne in this context would help me to understand much more about who she is, her worldview, and her art.

How did your childhood influence your connection to Nature? In my first childhood home we lived on the edge of town with only two houses neighbouring our own. We were up on a hill and could see Lake Timiskaming from our yard although it was quite distant, and train tracks, roads and houses separated us from the lake. An enormous Manitoba Maple tree grew at the front of the house, its branches rising up beyond the height of our two storey house and then curving back down until they almost touched the grass, enveloping the entire front yard in this huge leafy umbrella. We played outside all the time, both under this tree and in the adjacent fields, bush and ravine. My father, in particular, influenced my love of the outdoors. One of my earliest memories is of him taking my sisters and me for walks in the bush. We would start out walking along the train tracks and then would strike off into the forest. Eventually we would stop and make a fire and he would make us hot chocolate from his army rations. If it was spring he would make us whistles from the green willow branches. It was magical. As we got older we hiked and camped, paddled, rock climbed, skated and cross-country skied as a family. We returned again and again to the forests of my dad’s childhood in Northern Ontario. What are your favourite things to do outdoors today? I still love to camp and canoe, hike, skate and cross-country ski. The Yukon provides wonderful opportunities for all of these activities. For me, there is nothing better than sleeping outdoors. And although I don’t particularly like to cook, I love cooking outside over a fire! When I was creating the sculptures for my recent body of work, Human/Nature, I spent two summers working outside in my carport. The sculptures are built from driftwood and range from 7 to 11 feet tall so required a working space that was beyond the size of my studio. We live about 30 km north of Whitehorse, in a quiet, rural setting and working outdoors was wonderful. The carport meant I was protected from the rain and direct sun, but I could still feel the wind and hear the birds, and in our seemingly endless summer days, enjoy the view of the mountains as the sun worked its way almost full circle around me. While I worked away I was visited by foxes, squirrels and birds, and on one occasion a mother bear and her two cubs even wandered through, deftly winding through the maze of sculptures without knocking any of them over. Luckily, I had just stepped inside to get something and so was not in their way! The first summer, I worked well into October, which was far too cold to be outside with bare hands and power drills, but I was not anxious to return to the confines of indoor work space. [caption id="attachment_35993" align="alignright" width="221"] Weight of the World, Suzanne Paleczny[/caption] Have those things changed throughout your life? When our children were born we initiated them early into our favourite activities; our son was only 5 weeks old when we took him on his first overnight canoe trip in Bon Echo Park, and our eldest daughter, the ripe age of two weeks, for her first camping trip to Presqu’ile Park as we participated in the Bailey Bird Count. When our family grew too large for all of us to fit into one canoe, but the children were still too young to paddle, we did more camping in Provincial and National Park campgrounds. Once the kids were big enough to paddle and carry their own packs, we went back to doing more extended canoe trips and back-country hiking (which we continue to do now that we are again on our own). How do you see them changing as you continue to age? We continue to hike, paddle and ski and hope to spend many more years exploring the Yukon mountains and rivers. I suppose that we may become less willing or able to ‘rough it’ as we age. I have seen my own father change from someone who never passed up an opportunity to strike off into the bush with just a pack and an ax, to someone who now enjoys nature strictly through the window from the comfort of his arm chair.

Part 2: Art and life

Suzanne inspired me with her honesty, and stories of a life lived close with the land from her perspective. I was curious about how this lifestyle dedicated to connection with environment contributed to her path as an artist.

How much of your work throughout your life has been influenced by Nature? Because nature has always been a large and important part of my life, it has influenced my art in various ways. Learning to observe nature influenced the way I observe everything around me. I am always on the lookout for effects created by sunlight and shadow and am inspired by colours and patterns that I see in nature. I am not, however, a landscape painter; the human figure is almost always incorporated into my artwork. Human/Nature is my first large body of work that is not just influenced by, but is specifically about nature. Where did you get the ideas for your most recent exhibit – Human/Nature? [caption id="attachment_35991" align="alignleft" width="200"] HumanNature, Suzanne Paleczny[/caption] In many ways, my exhibit Human/Nature is a culmination of concerns and ideas that have come together throughout my life. The exhibit is loosely based on a thesis that I wrote in 2011, but even as a very young child, I remember being aware of and worried about pollution and the health of the planet. The exhibit was also created from a combination of both intellectual and visual ideas. The intellectual ideas were influenced to a great extent by an undergrad degree in Cultural Studies and Philosophy that I completed in 2011 at Trent University. In my final thesis I examined our relationship with wilderness and our understanding of it, as indicated through its depiction in art and culture over thousands of years. In preparing to create Human/Nature I also read about ancient thought and philosophy, creation myths throughout the world, patterns in nature, interaction of trees in forest communities, recently extinct species, evolution, the beginning of the universe, etc. Collecting visual ideas is a continuous and on-going process. Ideas can come from something as simple as a combination of colours that I see, a particular gesture that I observe, or other situations I encounter that can be used as visual metaphors. People, places and situations, in both Yukon and Egypt, came together to provide the visual inspiration for the paintings in Human/Nature. The driftwood sculptures, on the other hand, were inspired by a visit to a specific place in Yukon called Sucker Bay. The bay lies at the juncture of two very long and narrow lakes. Any debris that falls into the waters gets channeled down by the prevailing wind and collects in the bay. As a result, the bay is chock full of driftwood; an endless supply of free art material! The first time I was introduced to the bay by some of my fellow art colleagues, I was struck by how much the individual pieces of driftwood resembled parts of our human anatomy—bones, muscles, tendons—and I could see its potential for what would eventually become the Human Forest installation. Rather than force a pre-determined pose for each of the tree figures, I let the shape of the driftwood determine what the gesture would be. Check out more of Suzanne’s work here.

Part 3: We are Nature

I was compelled by Suzanne’s choice to mindfully follow the driftwood pieces as they dictated shape and posture of her human-tree figures. This is a small example of how we could all be living our lives by the contours of Nature: physical contours like rivers and mountains, as well as the rhythm of the seasons, right down to life lessons about relationships and tiny decisions we make every day. By losing our connection, have we lost our intuition about how to take care of the earth and also live good lives for ourselves? This concept is something that Suzanne has spent significant time thinking about.

I believe very much in the statement ‘we are Nature’ – Nature is not something separate from us. I know this is something you strive to explore and depict in your work. What does ‘we are Nature’ mean to you? We are nature. This is not a metaphor, it is a fact. The phrase ‘we are Nature’ is a statement of awareness. With the exhibit Human/Nature, I was trying to make sense of why we treat the world so badly. I was trying to make sense of this disconnect between our awareness of the environmental crisis that is upon us and at the same time, the fact that we are not reacting with the urgency that this crisis deserves.   And the only thing that I could think of, was that we must have somehow forgotten that we too are nature; that we are so used to living in a human-made world, that we have forgotten that nature is not something outside of us—someplace we go hiking in on the weekend—but that it is us. And this led me to the notion of memory. [caption id="attachment_35995" align="alignright" width="300"] HumanNature, Suzanne Paleczny[/caption] Our own human story begins along with everything else in the world; as a bunch of chemical elements created through the life-cycle of the stars, and then as one-celled animals in ancient oceans and then as more and more complex animals until we eventually climbed out of the ocean. There are remnants of our ancient selves preserved in different structures of our bodies. For example, the fact that we get the hiccups is attributed to our earlier gill breathing days. If we have physical remnants of our ancient selves still present in us, then is it not conceivable that remnants of our ancient past might also be lodged in our memory?  And so I began to imagine what it would be like if we could actually remember our origins. What if we could remember what it feels like to be stardust, or to live in salty seas, or to feel that connection that we have with everything else? Through the exhibit I am asking “what would having that sort of insight mean for us and for our world?” With this awareness, would we behave differently? What do you think are the best ways to live that philosophy, as an individual, and as a society? I have realized over the years that my artwork is often a question, but is seldom an answer. I don’t know the answer to the questions that I am posing; I just know that we need to figure it out together. I guess an important step is to recognize our own connection to the rest of the world and to understand that ours is a shared destiny. We need to make individual and societal decisions that reflect that knowledge; decisions that are based not on short term gain but on a long-term view that takes into consideration the collective good of future generations and the planet. I know your exhibit was titled ‘Human/Nature’… This is very interesting to me, as I’ve had a lot of trouble with reconciling the concept of Nature in the past year or so. In many ways I see our language as a symptom of the way we relate to the world around us as ‘other’. I’d love to get your thoughts on that. I think that your point is exactly right. That notion of the outer world as ‘other’ is embedded not just in language but in every aspect of modern Western culture, and it is inevitable that it should affect the way we act. The way we think about ourselves has been influenced over time by attitudes and philosophies that we may not even recognize as cultural ideas, and may mistake as truths. How will we set that right?

How will we set that right?

The weight of that question commands space to hang here; powerful yet without judgement, at the end of my conversation with Suzanne. How will we set that right? What do you think?

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‘Tis the Season … To Hibernate
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‘Tis the Season … To Hibernate

With winter finally here in full force, I see the appeal of stuffing myself with food and sleeping until all this snow melts away. While snow-covered trees and trails are beautiful, there seems to be less wildlife to look at in the winter. As animal sightings are less frequent, it had me wondering where they all go.image of a Grizzly Bear and her cubs When you think of hibernation, most people probably think of bears first. And while this is true, they’re aren’t actually the “truest” kind of hibernator, which includes a lowered heart-rate, breathing, and metabolism. This is because bears are in a much lighter sleep and can still be awakened. They get up more frequently than true hibernators, but can still sleep for days, weeks, or months — they go into what is called torpor. Skunks and raccoons are other mammals that can sleep for long periods of time to avoid the winter elements, but aren’t true hibernators. Bats, however, have some of the longest hibernation capabilities and can survive on taking just one breath every two hours. And did you know that bees hibernate in holes in the soil? Well, the queen bee that is. Worker bees die off every winter, but the queen bee hibernates in the ground for six to eight months until it is warm enough to rebuild. Garter Snakes are relatively harmless, but the idea of stumbling into a den of hundreds or thousands of them is not a pleasant one. While most snakes just become less active in the winter, garter snakes actually hibernate in dens in large quantities to stay warm. One den in Canada was found to have 8,000 garter snakes! And did you know? Climate change is already affecting the hibernation patterns of some animals, like chipmunks. Bears also give birth and raise their young during the hibernation period, which could lead to very negative effects on their populations if hibernation times are reduced. Acknowledgments: Live Science, Science News, Earth Rangers

Connect with Nature: Take a Fall Hike
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Connect with Nature: Take a Fall Hike

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] This is a great time to take a hike in nature. The scenery is absolutely stunning and there are still a few weeks before you have to break out your winter jacket. Here are five tips to make the most of your trek through the freshly fallen leaves. 1) Bird watching: There is lots of bird watching to be done as our feathered friends migrate south for the winter. Before you head out on your hike, check out our e-Books to see what birds you could see. Also it is a great idea to pack a nature guide to help identify different species and to record your findings. 2) Join a guided nature walk: Many communities across Canada have clubs that engage local experts to lead public hikes. This is a great way to meet fellow nature lovers and learn more about the natural geography of your area. Keep an eye on local publications or perform a quick internet search to find a guided hike in your area.People walking in the forest 3) Bring your camera: There are few times of the year when nature is more beautiful than it is now. Pack your camera and capture some of the beautiful fall scenery you encounter along the way. 4) Take a snack (or two): Before you head out, prepare some nutritious snacks that will keep you fueled along the way. Cheese and crackers, apple slices and trail mix are a few easy-to-pack snacks that offer valuable nutrients for your hike. For a more seasonal treat, save the seeds from the inside of your pumpkin and roast them the night before you head out. 5) Do a leaf craft: Want to create a souvenir of your adventure? Bring a large hardbound book and a roll of wax or parchment paper. Collect a few leaves of different shapes and sizes, press them between two sheets of paper and tuck them in the book to keep them safe. When you get home, place the leaves between two pieces of white paper, rub with a crayon and you’re done! Be sure to stay on the trails you encounter and share with us any other tips you have on taking a fall hike!

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Connect with Nature: Enjoy Fall Colours
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Connect with Nature: Enjoy Fall Colours

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] All fall begins, there is still plenty of fun to be had in the great outdoors. Beginning in October, a steady autumn wave makes its way across the country, transforming local leaves into vibrant colours of red, yellow and orange. This creates an absolutely spectacular backdrop for an adventure in nature! There are lots of ways to soak up the fall colours. Five great fall activities include:

  1. Taking time to head to a local park for a walk and bringing along a camera to capture your picturesque surroundings. [caption id="attachment_24800" align="alignright" width="296"]Image of a Bufflehead Image of a Bufflehead[/caption]
  2. Go out for a bike ride and enjoy various paths through Canada's National Parks filled with colour changing trees. Plus this year, you can get free admission with the 2017 Discovery Pass.
  3. Don't put away your binoculars just yet! There are still various birds in fall migration. For example, All Buffleheads Day celebrates the migration of this species in British Columbia. As well, Point Pelee is a great spot to see a wide variety of birds making their way south.
  4. Grab the whole family and enjoy a picnic in the fall foliage! Studies have shown numerous health benefits of both adults and children spending time in nature.
  5. Do a fall craft! Use the colourful leaves as placemats for your home. Full instructions to this craft can be found here.
The timing of the change in colour depends on a number of variables so be sure to check regional foliage reports for the best time to experience the vibrant colours of fall in your area. Can't make it to a park? Take a stroll through your neighborhood to see how your local trees have changed with the colder weather! No matter where you choose to view the foliage, take advantage of this colourful time to enjoy nature and all it has to offer.
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Member Spotlight: Nature Lover, Canadian Senator and Honorary Chair of Women for Nature Diane Griffin
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Member Spotlight: Nature Lover, Canadian Senator and Honorary Chair of Women for Nature Diane Griffin

[caption id="attachment_33387" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Jodi Joy Jodi Joy
Director of Development[/caption] “We all need peace and quiet, beautiful natural places to be our touchstones and to replenish our souls. A walk in nature does that for me. Also, just knowing we have natural places and wildlife is satisfying”. – Senator Diane Griffin Senator Diane Griffin is a lifelong and passionate environmentalist. She’s had a stellar public service career including serving as PEI’s Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy and as a Town Councillor in Stratford, PEI. She’s also served as the President of our Board of Directors and received our Pimlott Award for her incredible dedication and work to protect nature. An accomplished writer, who published a book of Atlantic Wildflowers, she has also penned numerous articles on topics ranging from agricultural, eco-economics, national forest strategies, natural heritage and more. [caption id="attachment_34742" align="alignright" width="421"]Image of Senator Diane Griffin Senator Diane Griffin[/caption] Senator Griffin encourages Canadians of all ages to explore nature, and take action in ways that make sense in our own homes and hearts, acknowledging recently thatwhat we do in our individual homes and communities is going to be significant for the conservation of Canada’s natural resources. Today, she brings a strong voice for nature and conservation to Canada’s Senate and is also the Honorary Chair of our Women for Nature program. Three Women for Nature projects are launching this year. Together with your gifts, we’ve supported six projects imagined by Young Women for Nature. As well, we’ll launch 10 new mentorships empowering up and coming nature leaders. And the Women for Nature E-Dialogues series, moderated by Professor Ann Dale, will begin later this month. These real-time, online discussions will stimulate ideas, dialogue and local action around the critically important topic of Biodiversity. You can find out all the topics, and join the conversation here. By instilling a passionate commitment to nature within our young nature leaders, Women for Nature members are investing in the future of conservation in Canada. The Women for Nature mentorship program and E-Dialogue series will bring strong voices together for nature to support the future protection of nature and wildlife in Canada. “As the Honorary Chair of Nature Canada’s Women for Nature initiative, I am delighted to see that Canada’s nature is in good hands. These young women and their projects are a step in the right direction to help enable more young Canadians to connect with nature and assist in protecting our precious wildlife and habitats.” You can find the latest news on Women for Nature here. And if you are interested in learning more about our initiative, I would love to connect with you! You can reach me at jjoy@naturecanada.ca or 1-800-267-4088 extension 239.

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