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Interview of Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chair of Women for Nature
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Interview of Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chair of Women for Nature

[caption id="attachment_36747" align="alignleft" width="150"] Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chair of Women for Nature. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Sharolyn Mathieu Vitesse. Sharolyn (S):  When reading about your outstanding accomplishments, and then when listening to you talk, you come across as someone who is down-to-earth, open, and inclusive, but I was intrigued when you mentioned that when working cooperatively, all boats rise with the tide.  How did you reach that conclusion? Brenda (B):  The opposite of that saying is the tall poppies syndrome where people are hesitant to speak out because they will be cut to size. In my experience, you get better end-results when listening to all interested parties.  There are some people who are really feisty with social activism – I’m not against that – but it doesn’t solve the problem.  We need a good way to work together, and challenge assumptions to get to what everybody wants to accomplish. [caption id="attachment_38071" align="alignright" width="300"] "Nature's future, our future, requires us to collaborate, innovate, and lead. We are working together to sustain biodiversity and heart-felt connection to nature across our great country." Dr. Brenda Kenny, pictured above, and Professor Ann Dale, Co-Chairs of Women for Nature.[/caption] S:  Can you give an example? B:  There is a group called the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) in Alberta.  It is consensus based and when it started, there were those who wanted zero emissions, and on the other hand were the emitting facilities saying that they would if they could, but the technology didn’t exist to do that.  What was actually achieved was a 65% reduction in 10 years by understanding all affected parties’ positions.  It depends on how you look at the numbers.  Look at costs and opportunities in different ways, and see ways to get there, including good regulation. What happened was that the government used the CASA targets to set clean air standards. This mandated companies to adopt the new technology to meet the new standard which resulted in energy reductions, reduced emissions, and operating savings. These are all positive impacts.  Some companies took it further, and are looking at opportunities to save money and reduce environmental impacts with waste recovery projects, and to sell the generated energy to the grid.  It goes to show how important it is to have open dialogues because how we get to the solutions is often not a straight line. S:  Has there been a cultural shift towards climate change? B: Yes, there has been a tipping point. Companies are signing on, and there are many, many willing partners.  Companies like Suncor and NAL Resources Management, which is owned by Manulife, are adopting new technologies to improve their extraction and business practices.  It is a very exciting time.  We can do things smarter as we transition away from high emissions to low emissions.  Less coal and fossil fuel and more renewable energy like wind and solar, is a big shift.  Also, improvements are a huge opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in new and unexpected ways. I think Canada is well-positioned and can have a huge role to help other countries be cleaner, and more efficient as well. S: You broke through the glass ceiling when you became the past president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) for eight years.  What was that like? B:  I didn’t feel like I was breaking down barriers at the time.  I found it was crucial to have a woman’s voice at a senior level at a time when there were crucial discussions about environment and pipelines.  In that capacity, I travelled the country and met a lot of people to advance the national interest, safety, and environment.  It was a great time to be involved because the industry wanted to do more.  My leadership style is cooperative, so I enjoyed it at that time, as difficult as it was.  My approach was to focus on the outcome, and not on the dogma. [caption id="attachment_38015" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dr. Brenda Kenny thanks Women for Nature members at Parliamentary Reception.[/caption] S: As a pathfinder in a male dominated field, what advice would you have for women who want to follow in your footsteps? B:  My advice to young women is to never follow the career path that others set for you.  Only pursue what you want to do, and apply that because it will be a good fit for you.  Know yourself.  Don’t drift into something, but be where you want to put your heart, mind, and time.  If you want to live in a way that you can make a difference about what you care about, then you had better know what you are trying to do.  You may not meet your goal, but if it is a worthy cause, then it is time well spent. To be successful, you have to have the tools to be successful, but don’t fall into the women’s trap.  What that is, is when a job is posted, a man will apply and say, “I can learn”, whereas a woman will say, “I will learn first, and then I can apply”.  You need to be capable and ready for the challenge, but knowing that things are not going to be perfect. S:  Pipelines and oil companies are not known to care about loss of habitat, or their effects on the environment, and yet you care passionately about nature.  How were you able to connect the two? B:  I’ve asked this question many times.  I can’t back away from this.  2/3 of energy use is fossil based.  We are transitioning, and doing it quickly but we still need energy here, and energy needs are growing abroad.   It is about having the best possible protection for the environment while providing the product and services people need.  I’d rather be inside the circle, and having an impact to do that.  I care deeply about environment as do many in industry.  I know that standing outside of industry doesn’t have the same impact.  Having said that, it is important to actively bridge different viewpoints.  I try to look for the variances that will move things forwards.  Sometimes it is like being a conductor.  All I know is that we get smarter, better, and faster when working as a team.  For example, about 7-8 years ago, the pipeline industry started working cooperatively with each other regarding safety in the industry.  It was super powerful, but it happened by changing the whole conversation. S:  How do you view Women for Nature? B:  We are like Team Canada!  We have a diverse group of women from across Canada with a common interest, which is Nature. We have the network, and the passion If we want Canada to be great, we shouldn’t throw away what makes us Canadian.


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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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Vote for Nature
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Vote for Nature

[separator headline="h2" title="Canada Has Tremendous Opportunities"]Let’s make nature conservation an issue in the federal election set for October 19! Canada has tremendous opportunities to conserve our endangered species and spaces, but the time to act is now. Every year, more of Canada’s animals and plants are threatened with extinction, and many natural landscapes such as tall-grass prairie, and Acadian, Carolinian and Coastal Douglas Fir forests have been reduced to fragments. Globally, human-induced climate change is already causing major damaging impacts to people and nature through extreme weather events, drought, floods and loss of ecological services that Canadians depend on. [separator headline="h2" title="Ask Your Local Candidates for Parliament Where They Stand"] Send a message to all federal political parties that conserving nature is important to you. Find out where the candidates and their parties stand on urgent nature issues. Ask Your Candidates:

  • Many of Canada’s environmental laws have been repealed or weakened in recent years. Will you strengthen federal laws to protect species at risk? Will you ensure that developments, such as pipelines, are required to be assessed with public hearings to achieve sustainability?
  • More oil pipelines would mean more supertankers in Vancouver harbour, the Salish Sea and the Bay of Fundy, and a greater risk of a catastrophic spill like Exxon Valdez. What will you do to prevent such disasters on Canada’s seas and coasts?
  • Canada is losing many of its unique wild places. What will you do to ensure that Canada meets its international law commitments to protect 17 per cent of Canada’s land areas by 2020 and 10 per cent of Canada’s ocean areas by 2020?
  • Canada is not doing its fair share in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing climate change that is dangerous to people and wildlife. What will you do to ensure that Canada does its fair share in fighting climate change and moves quickly to a low-carbon economy?
  • Fewer Canadians than ever hike, canoe, bicycle, birdwatch, visit parks or explore the great outdoors and more Canadians are experiencing health problems such as obesity. How will you encourage Canadians to get healthier through outdoor nature activities?
  • Investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other green technologies would have a positive impact on jobs and economic growth in Canada. How will you encourage Canada’s emerging green economy?
Strong leadership supported by active and engaged citizens is needed to address the urgent threats of biodiversity loss and climate change, and seize the opportunities to move to a green, low-carbon economy and connect Canadians to nature. Tell Canada’s leaders where you stand – vote for nature in 2015!

Nature Canada welcomes Eleanor Fast as new Executive Director
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Nature Canada welcomes Eleanor Fast as new Executive Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 16, 2014 (OTTAWA, ON) — Nature Canada announced today that Eleanor Fast will be assuming the role of Executive Director starting on October 6, 2014. Fast comes to Nature Canada with a passion for nature and a background in ecology, biodiversity and the not-for-profit sector. She has previously held senior management positions with the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as with the Council of Canadian Academies and holds a Master’s degree in Natural Resource Sciences (Biodiversity). “It’s not often that you find a person who is this strong in the hard sciences, government, not-for-profit management, fundraising and communications all at the same time,” said Richard Yank, Chairman of Nature Canada’s Board of Directors. “We’re absolutely thrilled that Eleanor has agreed to join us and we’re excited to have a dynamic new leader going into our 75th anniversary year.” Fast's passion for nature began as a child growing up in rural England. Her interests solidified while she was conducting field research in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania and later blossomed as a graduate student in biodiversity at McGill University. “I’m honoured to be a part of this storied organization,” said Fast. “Nature Canada does incredible work connecting Canadians to Nature and has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada over the course of its history. I hope to build on that amazing record.” Fast and the Board of Directors also extended their thanks to Stephen Hazell for serving as Interim Executive Director these past months. Stephen will be staying on with Nature Canada as Director of Conservation and General Counsel. [video type="youtube" id="D0-XEkWTEps"]

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[one_third][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_third] [one_third][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_third] [one_third_last][separator headline="h2" title="File Photo:"] [caption id="attachment_16127" align="aligncenter" width="250"]Image of Eleanor Fast Download full-sized photo of Eleanor Fast[/caption] [/one_third_last]

Nature Canada welcomes our new interim Executive Director, Stephen Hazell
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Nature Canada welcomes our new interim Executive Director, Stephen Hazell

March 10, 2014 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada is pleased to announce Stephen Hazell as our new interim Executive Director. Stephen comes to Nature Canada with enormous experience on a breadth of environmental issues, having previously held senior management positions in four national environmental organizations, a federal government agency, a leading Ottawa-based consulting firm, and as the founder of Ecovision Law. Departing Executive Director, Ian Davidson, will stay on with Nature Canada in an advisory capacity before leaving in March to take up a new Director’s position at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation based in Washington, DC. Ian leaves Nature Canada with a renewed enthusiasm for the power of grassroots organizations across the country and a pride in having worked with people and organizations committed to nature conservation. Nature Canada’s board and staff wish to express our deepest appreciation to Ian for his superb leadership over the past five years. Stephen will be guiding the organization as it begins a recruitment process for a new permanent Executive Director. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]  

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