Conversations

Indigenous Persistence on the Prairie: Rematriation and Reparations

View the video here.

Two leading Indigenous organizers discuss grassroots justice activism, land rematriation, and the necessity of reparations.

As Indigenous organizers on the frontlines of major events on the prairies, in Canada, and internationally, Michelle Brass and Erica Violet Lee have years of experience taking on colonialism and racism in the environmental movement and beyond. The two will discuss their grassroots work for justice for Indigenous peoples and kin beyond Canadian courtrooms and prisons, the pursuit of reclamation (or “rematriation”) of lands, and the necessity of reparations.

Erica Violet Lee is a nehiyaw writer and community organizer from inner-city Saskatoon. Her debut book of poetry will be published in March 2023 with McClelland and Stewart.

Michelle Brass is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and coach deeply committed to the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities. She serves on the Steering Committee for Indigenous Climate Action, a national organization that inspires action for climate justice by supporting Indigenous communities to develop Indigenous-led solutions to climate change. She is a a proud member of the Yellow Quill First Nation (Saulteaux/Anishnaabe) and resides on Peepeekisis First Nation in Treaty Four Territory in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Nature is Medicine: Launching PaRx in Saskatchewan

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Join guests Brooklyn Rawlyk and Sehjal Bhargava to learn more about the connection between physical health, mental health, and nature. 

Join U of S medical students Brooklyn Rawlyk and Sehjal Bhargava to learn more about the intimate connection between our physical and mental health and the health of our environment. Through their involvement in the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, these inspiring young medical professionals have brought the Park Prescription program to Saskatchewan, permitting physicians to prescribe a dose of nature to their patients.

“Research shows that spending time in nature reduces pain, stress and anxiety, improves overall cardiovascular health, energy levels and creativity, among other benefits. Research has even shown that children who spend more time in nature are more likely to grow up into environmentalists adults who are more connected to nature are more likely to work to protect it.”
—Sehjal Bhargava and Brooklyn Rawlyk

Brooklyn Rawlyk is a third-year medical student at the University of Saskatchewan with a passion for fitness, planetary health, time spent outdoors, and learning new skills. She is currently interested in the field of ophthalmology and in ways to mitigate the carbon footprint of surgical care. She is a graduate of Dalhousie University where she was a cross country and track & field varsity athlete. She is always looking for new connections and ways to engage with her local community.

Sehjal Bhargava is in her final year of medical studies at the University of Saskatchewan, with interests in public health, primary care, climate change, and health equity. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from the University of Saskatchewan and competed in varsity track and field and cross country prior to attending medical school. In her second year of medical school, Sehjal co-founded the Planetary Healthy Student Group within the College of Medicine, and most recently helped launch and currently co-chairs the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment Saskatchewan Regional Chapter (CAPE SK). She is excited to integrate prescribing nature, and climate advocacy into her future career as a physician.

Bringing Beauty Home:
Starting native plants from seeds

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Baby, it’s cold outside, and that makes this the perfect moment to think about SPRING. In fact, now is not just the time to think about next year’s garden but actually to plant some of those tricky-to-germinate prairie wildflowers. Join our experts to learn where to purchase seeds (or collect and store your own), how to test seeds for viability, choosing the best growing medium, finding the right temperature and lighting conditions, and special techniques to wake seeds from dormancy. Did you know that some wildflower seeds have to be “stratified” or even “scarified” before they will sprout? (And, no, you can’t just say “boo!”) Bring your curiosity and your questions, and learn how to bring the beauty of native plants back to their home territory.

  

With special guests Renny Grilz of Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company, Sandra Walker, ethnobotanist and author of The Path to Wild Food, and Chet Neufeld of The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan.

Your complete local guide to Gardening with Native Plants

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A quiet revolution is going on in gardens all across Saskatoon. A renewal. A return to appreciating the beauty and diversity of the plants that have been blooming here for hundreds and thousands of years.

Many of the plants that we find in the garden centers were gathered from the four corners of Earth through centuries of European colonial adventures. Peonies from China and the Mediterranean. Lilacs from eastern Europe. Petunias and marigolds from Central and South America. As lovely and familiar as these plants are, they are misfits here, badly attuned to the needs of our native pollinators and other creatures. Too often, their flowers are mere pompoms, with little to offer but a show of colour. No nectar, no pollen, no food for insects or birds.

Native plants, by contrast, evolved as part of this ecosystem, in concert and collaboration with dozens of different kinds of wild bees and other organisms. As a result, these plants have what it takes to keep the world buzzing. Happily, adding native plants to your flowerbeds or planters is surprisingly easy and a lot of fun.

Featuring three local experts:  Renny Grilz of Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company, Chet Neufeld of the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan, and Sandra Walker, ethnobotanist and author of The Path to Wild Food

A City in Harmony with Nature? An update on Saskatoon’s Green Strategy

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The City of Saskatoon has long declared its ambition to grow in harmony with nature.” With this goal in mind, council approved a Green Infrastructure Strategy in the spring of 2020, pledging to connect, protect and restore our urban green spaces as sustainable habitats for people and other living things.

This is exciting and forward-looking work and, because we truly are wild about Saskatoon, we have been wondering how things are moving ahead. What has happened in the year since the Strategy was approved? What steps are being taken to move the plan off the page and into the living landscape of this special place that we call home? How can conserving natural assets help us face the challenges of social dislocation, biodiversity loss and climate change?

This NatureCity conversation featured Jessie Best, Environmental Project Manager, and Katie Burns, Manager of Community Leadership and Program Development, City of Saskatoon, and Andrea Lafond, CEO of the Meewasin Valley Authority. Special guest: spoken-word artist Janelle “ecoaborijanelle” Pewapsconias.

Saskatoon’s Green Infrastructure Strategy: Towards an Interconnected Green Network – View more info here

Janelle “ecoaborijanelle” Pewapsconias (she/her) is a nehiyaw spoken word artist, mother, and social innovator based in Little Pine First Nation. As an artist she practices, organizes and continues on the cultural tradition of oral and spoken word storytelling about Indigenous survivance and connection to land.

More information: Instagram @_ecoarborijanelle www.linktr.ee/ecoarborijanelle

The Land Feeds Us: Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Prairie Cities

How can our urban spaces be planned and planted to support biodiversity and improve access to traditional foods? Join us as we explore issues around Indigenous Food Sovereignty in prairie cities, with featured guests Tabitha Robin and Kevin Wesaquate. 

View Kevin Wesaquate video here | Read Tabitha Robin transcript here

Tabitha Robin is a mixed ancestry Swampy Cree researcher, educator, and writer. She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Manitoba, studying Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Native Studies. She spends much of her time on the land, working with her people, and learning traditional Cree food practices. She has worked on research projects with the National Indigenous Diabetes Association, Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre in Winnipeg and Neechi Commons.

Kevin Wesaquate is a spoken word poet and visual artist is currently employed as a Multi-Disciplinary Indigenous Arts Leader at SCYAP. Kevin is the founder of Indigenous Poetry Society with hopes of building a larger community of spoken wordartist. Kevin represented Saskatoon at the Canadian Individual Slam in Vancouver in April 2018 and once again in 2020. As well as representing Tonight It’s Poetry for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2017 and 2018. He recently finished the Indigenous Fine Arts Residency in Banff Centre for the Arts, called ‘Ghost Days, Making Art for Spirit. 2019’. His work has led to community initiatives like planting misaskwatomina (Saskatoon berry) shrubs by the river near downtown Saskatoon with a group known as Locals Only. With many public speaking engagements his aim is to always inspire the next upcoming artists, like the 1st Indigenous Poets Society Team who have competed at CFSW 2019. A collection of paintings that where created by Kevin Wesaquate still hang at the Saskatchewan Polytechnique Adult 10 & 12 building. Becoming community leader in Saskatoon he is from Piapot First Nation where he learned the value of a community. Sahkihitok (love one another)

Kevin ‘POETIK’

Thing I love about the Prairies… ‘ I love the warmth of sunsets giving you that warm embrace goodnight before the multitudes of stars fill clear skies. ‘