Undergraduate student Elissa Bozhkov returns from feast at ELA

Student Blog – By Elissa Bozhkov

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Heather on a trip to the IISD Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) for their annual Community Fall Feast. We began the day with a tour of the facilities: Deputy Director Pauline Gerrard and Head Research Scientist Vince Palace showed us around the beautiful grounds and labs where many student researchers were hard at work. The research ELA conducts is vital in studying the impacts of human activities on freshwater lakes, educating the public and informing environmental policy. They spoke of one ongoing project where small amounts of mercury are added to a lake to mimic and better understand real life situations of atmospheric mercury contamination from industrial sources.

Later on in the afternoon we were joined by local First Nations in the area from Eagle Lake and Whitefish Bay where we had discussions about water, air and land issues. People from all different backgrounds shared their own personal concerns, stories and thoughts with the group. I had the pleasure of sitting beside one of the Elders during the sharing circle and as he was speaking to everyone and sharing the knowledge that one can only have from truly growing up and living on the land, he looked over at me and said something that really resonated with me: “I hope that in the future, your children and your grandchildren will be able to look up at the trees surrounding them, breathe the fresh air and drink clean water.”

I also had a chance to speak with Elders Margaret and Clarence as we sat around the fire sprinkling tobacco onto the flames, a common practice during feasts. Margaret shared with me an old saying she had learned from her grandfather: “If you listen child, you will live.” She told me how she grew up around Eagle Lake and used to listen for all the animals near her, especially the red-winged blackbird. Now in the springtime, she doesn’t hear the birds songs anymore or the frogs’ croaks down by the water. Sitting around the fire with the Elders was my favourite part of the weekend, because we didn’t talk science or politics. We talked solely about the life all around us; the very land, air and water that continuously provides for us and takes care of us. Clearly, Indigenous people are great knowledge holders of their land around them yet often are not included in the discussion, especially involving issues of the environmental impacts surrounding resource development. This experience was very enlightening and gave me a lot to think about in terms of developing my honours thesis project on reconciliation and healing at ELA.

A SHARED Future visits the Experimental Lakes Area

HEC Lab Director and A SHARED Future program lead, Heather Castleden, along with Principal Investigator Derek Kornelsen, and Undergraduate Trainee Elissa Bozhkov traveled to Winnipeg to meet A SHARED Future project partners Pauline Gerrard and Matt McCandless of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and travel to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to learn more about the work that is being completed there.

This trip presented an opportunity for the A SHARED Future team to continue to work with representatives from the ELA to build on synergies and research interests to further both the research program, and the ELA research objectives. In addition to discussions with the ELA, the A SHARED Future team met with members of Eagle Lake and Whitefish Bay First Nations, and were invited to sharing circle and feast with Elders and community members from the two First Nations. The HEC Lab and the entire A SHARED Future team would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our gracious hosts for welcoming our team, and sharing your knowledge with us.

Lisa te Heuheu Visits the HEC Lab

On September 13th, 2017, Maori scholar and environmental consultant Lisa te Heuheu visited the HEC Lab at Queen’s University and delivered a guest talk on her work. We, at the HEC Lab, were tremendously privileged to host Lisa, and are thankful for her willingness to share insights from the work that she does. For further information, please see the announcement poster, here.

Renewable in Remote Communities – Whitehorse, YK – October 23-26, 2017

The HEC Lab is excited to announce that A SHARED Future team member, Dave Lovekin of the Pembina Institute is hosting a conference in Whitehorse, YK to discuss renewable energy and micro-grid technologies in rural, remote, and northern communities. The conference takes place on October 23rd to 26th, and A SHARED Future team members will be in attendance to present some of our research findings thus far. For more information, or to register, click here.

Castleden and Lewis at the IMGS in Angers, France

HEC Lab director Dr. Heather Castleden, and Diana Lewis, PhD (ABD) are travelling to the University of Angers in Angers, France for the International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS) to present their research from A’sek (Boat Harbour), Nova Scotia.

Diana Lewis will be presenting her work:
Combining Indigenous worldview and science to measure how land displacement and environmental dispossession are disproportionately effecting Indigenous communities globally.

Following this presentation, Heather Castleden, Diana Lewis, and Sheila Francis will be presenting:
(Don’t) Put it near the Indians: An integrative approach to implementing Indigenous and Western knowledge systems for investigating environmental health injustice in Canada.

For more information on the IMGS, and to see the full program of sessions and attendees, visit: http://www.irdes.fr/imgs2017/index.htm

Castleden Participates in Panel Discussion on Reconciliation and Humanities and Social Science Research

HEC Lab Director Dr. Heather Castleden recently participated in a panel discussion for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). The panel, titled, Wise Research Practices: Reconciliation and HSS Research, was monitored by Dr. Peter H. Russel (University of Toronto) and hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The panel was an interdisciplinary session that featured presentations from three leading thinkers – Dr. Margaret Kovach (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Chelsea Gabel (McMaster University), and Dr. Heather Castleden (Queen’s University) – each of whom explored how HSS scholars could ensure that their research respects and engages Indigenous perspectives and communities. The session provided insight into the current state of HSS research on Indigenous issues, with a focus on the participation of Indigenous scholars and communities; discussed Indigenous methodologies; and offered strategies for conducting respectful, mutually beneficial research with Indigenous peoples.