These days, I feel that it simply isn't enough to profess good values, hoping that your good intentions will eventually be realized in the real world.
For instance, I'm sure you're just as aware as I am, that we are living in the midst of an unprecedented man-made extinction event, a stunning loss of biodiversity, and that every decision we make on a governmental and cultural level from here on out is crucial.
But what good are these (admittedly admirable) values if we don't act on them? At the end of the day, if we hope to preserve these values and everything they stand for as this tumultuous century rolls on, we need to invest in them — in a real, tangible way.
The following articles illustrate some of the ways Plenty Canada is attempting to manifest our vision on a local and international level, but this is just a sampling of the broad range of work with which we are engaged. I'm very proud to say that our current roster of projects is filled with initiatives of a similar nature. For instance, you might be aware at this point that we will soon be expanding our Healing Garden project in partnership with the Bruce Trail Conservancy and Forests Ontario, therebycreating additional physical, symbolic, and long-lasting legacy spaces for communicating Indigenous cultural and environmental values.
We have also vowed to continue our other biodiversity projects, such as our partnership with the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, our Indigenous cultural mapping work, our sustainable forestry commitments, and our work educating the public on invasive species. It can be quite hectic sometimes, working on so many different things at once, but it's necessary if we want to truly live up to our mandate.
Not to be too presumptuous, but I hope that you, dear reader, feel that we have lived up to our mandate and that you feel that our organization is worthy of your investment. As a carbon negative organization, we've tried our best to live up to our values in every way possible. I hope that, if you choose to support us with your time or money, you feel that your own values are being respected and reinforced.
Regardless, whether you are a first time reader of this newsletter or a long-time friend of PlentyCanada, I thank you once again for taking some time to give our Contact newsletter a read. I hope you enjoy! And, as the year rolls on, I hope you stick around to see how the projects we've invested in continue to blossom.
Chi Miigwech. Niá:wen. Merci. Thank you.
Two-Eyed Seeing Bird Atlas Project
Plenty Canada is excited to have launched our new ‘Two-Eyed Seeing Bird Atlas’ project, in partnership with Ontario Nature.
There is currently a province-wide breeding bird survey underway for the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Atlas-3). The Atlas is a collaborative, volunteer-driven five-year effort (2021-2015) to map Ontario’s approximately 300 species of breeding birds. The Atlas is repeated every 20 years to see how bird distributions and populations change over time. You can learn more at birdsontario.org.
The Two-Eyed Seeing Bird Atlas project has a "Community First" approach, supporting Indigenous community initiatives that increase the protection and recovery of birds at risk and culturally significant birds. The project aims to establish collaborative initiatives between Indigenous communities and Atlas-3 participants, help enable Indigenous communities and individuals to participate in Atlas-3, enhance Atlas-3 data collection, and support a learning process to explore how breeding bird surveying protocols and approaches can be adapted to be informed by Indigenous Ways of Knowing.
How can Indigenous communities get involved?
Plenty Canada is committed to conducting this project within the framework of Ethical Space and Two-Eyed Seeing. Communities will determine their interest and level of involvement, including whether they will share data and/or traditional knowledge outside their community. There are many ways that a community can participate in the Two-Eyed Seeing Bird Atlas project:
● Conduct bird surveys on reserve and traditional lands, either jointly with Atlas-3 survey participants or only with community members
● Use knowledge of birds and their songs to survey birds and to gather evidence of bird breeding (all skill levels can be accommodated, training and equipment can be provided!)
●Include bird surveying and recording of Indigenous ecological knowledge in youth programming- providing opportunities to excite youth about birding and conservation, and grow their ecological and traditional knowledge
● Place acoustic recorders to record bird songs and collect them after several weeks
● Participate in efforts to identify the songs of the species recorded by the acoustic recorders
●Host and/or participate in a “learning circle” with knowledge-sharing between traditional Knowledge Keepers, Elders, community members and Atlas-3 participants
● All learning circles will begin and end in ceremony
● Plenty Canada staff will assist in the recording of knowledge, e.g. bird names in Indigenous languages, observed behaviours or changes in particular species, methods of harvesting, preparation and storing significant bird species (recorded and/or shared only with permission)
● Suggest how the atlas surveying protocols and approaches can be adapted to ensure bird research is meaningfully informed by Indigenous Ways of Knowing
● Through discussions via structured learning circles or informal meetings, find out more about the significant birds in the community from Atlas-3 participants (including expert bird researchers)
● Gain more knowledge about the health of harvested birds for consumption
● Utilize previous Atlas data to help inform a nation’s conservation efforts, land use planning, etc.
Plenty Canada will facilitate where needed and when asked, providing connections to the Atlas-3 participants, access to training and equipment, and funding for learning circles, travel and other expenses.
Interested individuals or communities can contact the Indigenous Community Liaisons:
Ontario South - Martina Albert, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ontario North - Sharon Kimberley, email@example.com
– Emily Morris, Martina Albert, Sharon Kimberley
This project was undertaken with the financial support of:
Ce projet a été réalisé avec l'appui financier de:
A new upgrade is coming to the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map. Plenty Canada received a generous donation from Canadian Heritage to add ten more destination sites to the Map, Plenty Canada’s multimedia online resource containing stunning photography, captivating video, and contextual information that identifies important Indigenous historic, cultural, and natural world locations along more than 750 kilometres from Niagara Falls to the western region of Manitoulin Island.
The ten destinations being added include the following:
• Boyd Conservation Area
• Cootes Paradise
• Goulding Lake
• Cape Chin
• Summit Bog
• Ball's Falls Conservation Area
• Beamer Memorial
• Red Hill Valley
• Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area
With research conducted by Dr. Jessica Dolan and Mia Yu Zhao Ni, these ten new destination sites will include ethnobotanical research and the location's historical and cultural significance to Indigenous peoples. Each destination pin on the map will also feature beautiful imagery of the locations and photography of the ethnobotany species identified during fieldwork in 2022. Each pin will also have translations available in Kanien’kéha (Mohawk), Michif (Métis), and Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabek).
Not only will these locations be available on the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map, but they will also be presented as destination pins on a new mapping platform being developed by Plenty Canada called the Greenbelt Indigenous Botanical Survey. The Survey will include twenty-three destination pins, including these ten, that are critical to the Indigenous ethnobotanical regions of the Greenbelt and which are significantly connected to historic Indigenous trails.
These ten destinations on the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map preview a sampling of the full content that will be uploaded onto the Greenbelt Indigenous Botanical Survey, where visitors will enjoy learning about the Greenbelt's extensive ethnobotanical Indigenous plants and their significant connection to Indigenous communities.
• The ten destination pins will be made public on the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map by April 1, 2023.
• The Greenbelt Indigenous Botanical Survey will be available to the public by the end of this year and also be accessible through a link on the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map’s menu.
Though the Cultural Map remains in prototype phase, the platform in its current operational form reveals virtually unlimited research, and educational possibilities, as well as applications across a wide swath of Indigenous subject matter related to the Niagara Escarpment.
You can visit the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map here:
— Amanda Marie Harwood
As reported in Plenty Canada’s most recent donor letter (and in a few recent newsletter communications), the Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Daycare Center in South Africa has been a tremendous success for both Plenty Canada and its allies in the region. The Center has a undergone a number of crucial improvements, such as the construction of a rainwater storage system and the growing of a vegetable garden, that make the space more friendly to children and more environmentally sustainable.
Of course, Plenty Canada believes that it is important to celebrate the human side of these milestones as well, to highlight the actual people whose lives will be changed by this project. On that note, Plenty Canada would like to take a moment to commemorate the graduation of 31 children from the Daycare Center’s program in December of this past year.
Their date of graduation was marked by a ceremony with the children's parents in attendance, in which all the graduates received a diploma commemorating their time at the Center.
The breadth of their education, and its impact on their future, cannot be overstated, and is best illustrated by this quote from Remember Nyango, founder of the Center:
“Our Tsundzukani Daycare Centre's mission is to prepare academically the children from the deep rural communities of the Mpumalanga province, so that they can go out there and face the modern world of today. This will also include teaching them music, dance and other art forms thus providing them with a sense of cultural identity and pride for their Indigenous traditions.”
As you can see, the Daycare Center is not merely a space to look after the children while their parents are at work -- though it does accomplish that crucial function as well, of course. Not only does the program increase their chances of academic success further down the line, a huge boost to their future economic prospects, but it also provides them with a robust Indigenous cultural education. This cultural education, to Plenty Canada, is just important as every other element of the daycare program. After all, material success is valuable, but restoring and preserving ties to traditional cultures is a core part of the Daycare's, and Plenty Canada's, missions.
If the news of a mass graduation of children has you wondering whether or not the program is beginning to wind down or decrease in scope, rest assured that this could not be further from the truth. During the 2023 school year, the Daycare Center has over 60 children attending classes. That's 60 children whose parents will be able to work, assured that their children are receiving loving care and a great education; 60 children whose childhoods and futures will be enriched through cultural connections and education.
Things are only looking up for the Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Daycare Center. Between Remember Nyango's dedication and Plenty Canada's assistance, it seems like there's almost no limit to the ways in which the Center will grow and evolve in the future.
— Mwana Burmudes and Breton Campbell
Cuba Visits: Gran Familia Mountain projects Report from the field by Jose Barreiro
Recent visits to community projects in Cuba included horseback treks to mountain homesteads and caserios, where Native families farm in remote areas of the dense eastern Cuban forest. I traveled with colleague Larry McDermott, Plenty Canada executive director and long-time partner in Indigenous international sustainable development.
Freddy Martinez Ramirez has a farm a bit over two hours up the mountain on a horse trail that fords sixteen passes of the serpentine Jojó River. The farms are carved out of patches of more-or-less level land, which yield fields of corn and beans, yuca, pineapple, and other crops. This is farming by the old Taino “coa,” or planting stick, these days also called, “planting by machete.” Baracoa friends dropped us at Veguitas, where Freddy awaited with saddled horses.
This visit in the Oriente easternmost mountains came toward the end of a journey that began in the capital of Havana, traveling east by car and bus, to project farms El Cotorro, a rural municipality of Havana, to Camagüey, and Guantanamo and Baracoa, and near the tip of Cuba at farthermost Cajobabo. We visited four farms out of some fifteen among Gran Familia communities linked in the agricultural network. These days, economic conditions call for substantial attention to food self-sufficiency throughout the country, and the Gran Familia farmers are intent on providing a resounding national model for their effort.
In Camagüey, Finca Yucahu, at the guajiro homestead farm of Ivan Cabrera, a large field is ready for planting with yuca. Young Ivan and his group and their council of elders are striving to produce on a variety of levels. Animal husbandry in pork, goat and cattle, fields of guayaba, aguacate, plantain, and vegetables are in full activity, while construction of thatched, bohio-style ranchones are built to protect animals.
Vladis and Idalis Ramirez, from La Rancheria and Panchito’s son and daughter leaders, who had joined the trip in Havana, helped in ceremony at Finca Yucahu, where all the work was prayed over for good timing and reliability of rains and sun (change in climate — rains — is impacting planting times), and for unity of purpose among Gran Familia homesteads. Vladis follows his father Panchito now as the head farmer at La Rancheria, where large fields of corn, beans and other crops are also the way of life. Older sister Almeida and several younger women run large kitchen gardens and her own kitchen is always full of activity. Brother Inoel, and next generation cousins, Yasmany and Pepino, are also persistent farmers in their fields and with their animal husbandry.
There are several other farms in the network, two more at Cajobabo, a large one coming along in the Tames municipality, two farms of brothers at the Yateras hamlet of Bernardo, and several more in two communities along the Toa River, near Baracoa. Following the cacique’s orientationthere is ample and deeply felt collaboration among these farming families. The strong need of thesmall farmers is for all manner of agricultural materials, instruments and tools, such as machetes, hoes, wire fencing, pumps, irrigation lines, small windmills, and such. The commitment is to self-sufficiency among the Gran Familia and food sovereignty for the country.
As the work and production in the various farms increasingly connect and mutual planning grows, the direction is in cross-country cooperative production of the traditional yuca (manioc) tuber, the central crop of Taino agriculture, which continues in very active, widespread practice among guajiro farmers. The crop, in its many varieties, is highly useful as human and animal food. Its refinement in value-added product is the traditional casabe tort, cooked by masters in “casaberia” ovens. The intent is to form a system of farms with their own casaberias and ovens and elaborating a growing volume of casabe, for the Cuban public and for tourism and external markets.
- Jose Barreiro
The Makwa Inn of the Plenty Canada CampUs is nearing completion during extensive renovations. Regardless of the difficult weather this winter, significant progress has been made on the sustainable building project, both inside and out.
A great deal of care has been given to the Inn’s building envelope with significant upgrades as we look to maintain net zero goals. The Inn’s siding is made of locally sourced white cedar painted in environment friendly “wild sage” linseed oil paint. New high efficiency windows and doors will be installed as well as a new accessible entrance.
Upon entering the Makwa Inn guests will be welcomed to a new community space, including a full kitchen where food sovereignty will be a focus. Sharing of knowledge will take place in the furnished meeting and workshop space. On the second floor the dorm space is being completed with a kitchenette and bathroom for providing accommodations.
At the lower level the Inn will soon have a high efficiency HVAC system installed with superior air cleaning capabilities. Additionally, there is an advanced septic and rainwater harvesting system that are both practical for the operations of the Inn, and key components of the sustainable building demonstration project we are completing.
We look forward to welcoming community groups to learn and assist in co-creating this ethical space. The completion of the project will result in Plenty Canada’s development of a land-based learning centre, while providing a place for Indigenous and western knowledge systems to interact and be shared with mutual respect, kindness, and generosity.
Meegwetch to Federal Development Canada and Ontario Community Revitalization for providing the funding that has enabled these significant, sustainable renovations to the buildings at Plenty Canada, to proceed.
— Louise Sherwood
Plenty Canada, in partnership with the Town of Lincoln and other Indigenous stakeholders, is accepting proposals from Indigenous artists, or Indigenous-led artist teams, to produce two (2) public artworks to be incorporated within Jordan Hollow Indigenous Cultural Park (at 3039 King St. Jordan, L0R 1S0). Each artist or artist team will be responsible for creating one (1) public artwork.
Plenty Canada received a non-repayable contribution of $180,00 through the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund to support this project.
To read more of the RFP, you can download the full pdf copy by clicking here.
You can also view the full RFP here:
Prominent Indigenous executive, cultural specialist, and broadcaster joins Plenty Canada.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Appointment signals enhanced support for Indigenous arts, education, and public discourse.
January 12, 2023
From its Six Nations Bureau office, Plenty Canada is pleased to announce the hiring of Karl Dockstader as an Advisor for Indigenous Content, Culture, and Protocol. Karl, who is well known in the Niagara Region, brings to the position a wealth of knowledge and experience in Indigenous organizational management, visual and media arts, and cultural protocol and practice.His involvement will strengthen an already capable and successful team while extending outreach and engagement.
“We’re delighted that Karl has come on board,” said Tim Johnson, Plenty Canada senior advisor. “I’ve long thought that his superpower is his humility, which serves as a translucent facade behind which resides deep intelligence, creativity, integrity, and wisdom. In this organization we also consider functionality and positive personality traits as being essential qualifications. In this regard, Karl’s palpable love of his family, community, and Bear Clan Oneida culture, along with his inquisitive nature and voracious quest for learning, make him a true value-add for our team.”
As a self-described “Friendship Centre baby,” Karl had the honour of serving as executive director of the Niagara Regional Native Centre, which followed years of front-line community work with Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. He is an advocate and activist for grassroots initiatives who is unafraid to take bold stances on matters that affect Indigenous peoples, and has used art and communication, including podcasting, to support community achievement goals.
Karl is perhaps best known for co-hosting the hit Indigenous-themed radio program One Dish, One Mic that airs in Niagara, London, Windsor, and Hamilton. He is also a Bell Media radio news rotating talk show host on 610 CKTB’s The Drive airing weekdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to radio broadcasting Karl has done TV work with CTV News Channel, appeared as a regular panellist on the politics show CTV Power Play for the 2021 to 2022 season, and done a variety of freelance work, generating CBC and Canadaland bylines.
“Karl Dockstader is an outstanding communicator and leader,” said Walter Sendzik, former mayor of the City of St. Catharines. “Though his work with his radio program One Dish, One Mic, Karl has established himself as a leading voice on Indigenous issues within Canada. In Niagara, Karl is a leader, knowledge keeper, and community builder. He has worked on numerous projects that have brought a strong sense of awareness and inclusion of First Nation peoples in our shared communities.”
In his advisory capacity Karl will produce and host Plenty Canada webinars that will focus on a range of Indigenous issues spanning culture, language, and current events to matters of the environment including the existential crisis that is climate change. He will also represent the organization at Plenty Canada programs, events, and meetings, as well as attending events hosted by other partner organizations. And he will be on call to receive and answer inquiries of a general nature where his insights and recommendations will prove invaluable.
“Karl’s knowledge of his Oneida culture brings a great deal of expertise to our work as we roll out projects in the region dealing with Indigenous-led conservation, Indigenous education, and all manner of Indigenous cultural expression,” said Larry McDermott, Algonquin elder and executive director of Plenty Canada. “Many of our graduate students from our Leadership in Conservation program with Guelph University, for example, have praised Karl regarding his contributions in providing Haudenosaunee cultural representation. He is very skilled and will have a significant influence on our work.”
Plenty Canada is extremely grateful for the opportunity to co-lead, alongside the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership and Environment and Climate Change Canada, an event commemorating the Pathway to Canada Target 1 process, during the CBD COP15 (Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) in Montreal on December 11th.
“Pathway to Canada Target 1” was Canada's initiative to engage rights-holders and stakeholders in advancing Aichi Target 11 (by 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas are conserved). The Pathway process was notable in that right from the outset and at every step, it was informed by Indigenous governance and protocol.
This initiative was a great success, acting as a catalyst for the national support of Indigenous-led conservation, and provides a valuable blueprint for future projects of a similar nature. Plenty Canada's presentation was created with the goals to celebrate these historical successes and consider how we can use the lessons learned from the Pathway process beyond 2020.
Plenty Canada Executive Director Larry McDermott began the presentation with a smudge ceremony, which was followed by opening remarks and a fascinating panel discussion. Alongside Larry, the panel was filled with prestigious figures, including Chloe Dragon Smith, Curtis Scurr, Marilyn Capreol, Julie Boucher, and Dawn Carr.
The panel covered a tremendous amount of temporal and theoretical ground in a relatively short time. Larry and the other panelists discussed Canada's origin story as it speaks to the original vision of conservation between Indigenous and colonial peoples, the origins of Pathway to Canada Target 1, their personal experiences with the Pathway process, steps taken to date, and plans for moving forward.
During the panel session, the floor was opened to the audience to ask questions and dialogue with the panelists, emphasizing the collaborative nature of both the event itself and the Indigenous/non-Indigenous environmental initiatives that the event described. It was a wonderful event, made all the greater by the eagerness and participation of the delegates and other guests in attendance, highlighting the importance of relationships in conservation work. Plenty Canada hopes that this event demonstrated to the Canadian delegation and other parties how they can work with Indigenous peoples, and their knowledge systems, to work towards the 2030 biodiversity targets and beyond.
If you missed watching the event live, you can watch the recording on Plenty Canada’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfNITaopIYM.
— Breton Campbell
When I review the volume and variety of Plenty Canada projects, it occurs to me that virtually everything our organization does within Canada is a reflection of reconciliation, applied in diverse and creative ways. Several of our projects touch upon the Calls To Action that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued in 2015. Others are the manifestation of good-minded Canadians who felt compelled to get involved — leaders of municipalities, provincial agencies, universities, conservation organizations, non-governmental organizations, art centres, and more — who sincerely seek to engage with Indigenous peoples and organizations like ours to make valuable contributions and play their part toward fulfilling the country’s truth and reconciliation aspirations.
During this time of the year, as we approach the holidays, I’m particularly mindful and grateful of the relationships we have that foster reconciliation. These come in the form of partnerships and alliances whereby we work together toward shared goals and objectives on projects that are deemed beneficial in the fields of conservation, ecological sustainability, and education. Following are three examples, among several Plenty Canada projects, that reflect reconciliation and which are reported in this edition of our Contact newsletter.
With funding provided by the Greenbelt Foundation, and in partnership with Guelph University, along with assists from Brock University, the Bruce Trail Conservancy, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Plenty Canada has recently completed a survey of Indigenous plant life within the Greenbelt. Our team led by Senior Advisor Tim Johnson, comprised of biologists and Indigenous knowledge holders, researched 23 sites located along historic Indigenous trails analyzing 69 plots and resulting in the collection of more than one thousand herbaria specimens and a significant amount of data that will be useful for years to come.
With the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada our organization is assisting in the development and growth of another organization, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, which is responsible for maintaining UNESCO’s official mandate and designation of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Region. This is hugely important work that we take very seriously. As you will read in the article about the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, it is called a network because it works with dozens of organizations all along the Niagara Escarpment, which runs from Tobermory to its southern terminus in Queenston Heights Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Biosphere Network Board Member Liette Vasseur likes to call it a network of networks, and she’s correct. Only by working together can we preserve precious biodiversity and promote responsible public access to the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere.
Reconciliation also benefits from artful inspiration. In partnership with the Bruce Trail Conservancy and Forests Ontario, we are also pleased to announce that our “reconciliation team” has identified two locations for the design and installation of Indigenous healing gardens, one at Cape Chin in the northern part of the Bruce Trail, and the second at Smokey Hollow in Waterdown along the southern part of the Bruce Trail. Curatorial teams are being formed to begin the conceptualization of the gardens, which we hope to see emerge in 2023, so we are greeting the new year with great anticipation.
These are but three active Plenty Canada projects that we consider reconciliation in action. By working together with others on projects that can be successfully accomplished, the process develops effective relations, nurtures respect, and results in lasting friendships. Along these lines, thank you for your support! Have a warm, safe, and Happy Holidays and a most joyful New Year!
Chi Miigwech. Niá:wen. Merci. Maarsii. Thank you.