Margaret Atwood, Stephen Lewis, Dan Roronhiakewen Longboat and more speak out for Ontario’s species at risk
TORONTO — People from across Ontario are declaring solidarity with species at risk and calling for urgent change in the way we affect the natural world that sustains us. Twenty-eight authors, musicians, Indigenous Peoples, businesses and environmental organizations issued a joint statement today emphasizing humans’ collective responsibility to protect the natural health of Ontario, Canada and the planet.
The statement was issued on the heels of the Government of Ontario’s public consultation on the Endangered Species Act, 2007. As the public awaits the government’s amendments to the act, its commitment to increasing “efficiencies for business” has prompted fears about the fate of plants and animals already imperilled throughout the province.
More than 230 of Ontario’s plant and animal species are in danger of disappearing, largely due to habitat loss and disturbance. Industrial activity and development are key drivers of that loss. The ESA already provides significant exemptions to industry; further weakening the act will only increase the threats to the province’s most vulnerable species.
The joint statement emphasizes the interconnection of all life and the importance of the persistence and recovery of species at risk for human health. It also highlights the limits to Earth’s capacity to sustain human activity, and the urgent need to change our approach to how we interact with nature.
A selection of signatories to the statement had the following to say:
Sarah Harmer, musician:
“We are in the midst of a massive loss of biodiversity worldwide. Habitat destruction is the leading cause of loss of species. Ontario is home to precious wetlands, forests, grasslands and other complex ecosystems that support critical species at risk. Ontario citizens want to protect the most rare and endangered populations of plants and animals with whom we share this land and water. The Ontario government needs to strengthen our Endangered Species Act.”
Larry McDermott, Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, executive director, Plenty Canada:
“We are the elements governed by natural law and part of and responsible to all of Creation. Our rights flow from this relationship. The Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007, is designed to share our ways of knowing and is a tool for achieving international treaty-based targets for biodiversity and climate change, and even more importantly, to restore our relationships with the rest of the web of life.”
Caroline Schulz, executive director, Ontario Nature:
“All life forms matter. As the main culprit imperilling the biodiversity that sustains us, humans have a collective responsibility to protect the planet’s most vulnerable plants and animals, including the 230 that are listed as species at risk in Ontario. We must not abdicate our responsibility. There is no time to waste. The clock is ticking.”
David Suzuki, scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation:
“The Ontario Endangered Species Act is meant to protect the province’s most vulnerable animals and plants. If we allow even more of their critical habitat to be opened up for business, it’s only a matter of time before that life support is cut off completely. The Ontario government has a responsibility to identify and protect species at risk. These species have already been waiting too long for our support. It’s beyond time to strengthen the act and improve its implementation, not go backwards by opening the door for more business.”
For more information or to request an interview:
Stefanie Carmichael, David Suzuki Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org, 437 997 2568
John Hassell, Ontario Nature: email@example.com, 416 786 2171
Shaelyn Wabegijig, Plenty Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org, 705 238 8895
Planet Earth is a shared home for humans and millions of other species, and our fates and well-being are interdependent. Yet, as a result of unsustainable human activity, global wildlife populations have, on average, declined in size by 60 per cent since the 1970s. We are now in the throes of the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago.
In response to this crisis of biodiversity loss, the Government of Ontario passed a new Endangered Species Act in 2007, with support from all parties. Deemed to be a gold standard in species at risk legislation at the time, this law is now under review.
In response to this review, we the undersigned agree and confirm that:
Margaret Atwood | Writer
Jeff Beaver | TEK Advisor/Manager
Rick Beaver | Artist, Ecologist
Marilyn Capreol | Grandmother, Knowledge Keeper
Katsi Cook | Elder, National Aboriginal Council of Midwives
Derek Coronado | Coordinator, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Chris Craig | Senior Forestry Technician, South Nation Conservation, Member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan
Amber Ellis | Executive Director, Earthroots
David Flood, RPF | Matachewan First Nation - member
Jack Gibbons | Chair, North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance
Graeme Gibson | Writer
Meagan Hamilton | B.E.S., M.A., Can-CISEC, Indigetech Inc. Environmental Consulting, Member of Six Nations
Sarah Harmer | Musician
Richard W. Hill | Tuscarora, Beaver Clan, educator
Steve Hounsell | Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council
Deb Pella Keen | Senior Advisor, Plenty Canada
Stephen Lewis | Former Canadian Ambassador to the UN
Henry Lickers | Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Environmental Science Officer
Dr. Dan Roronhiakewen Longboat | Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation, Grand River Territory, Professor and IESS Director, Trent University, Peterborough
Deborah Martin-Downs | Chief Administrative Officer, Credit Valley Conservation, Chair, Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition
Larry McDermott | Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, Executive Director, Plenty Canada
Janet McKay | Executive Director, LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests)
Miptoon (Anthony Chegahno) | Neyaashiinigmiing, Project Manager, Species at Risk
Eugenia Ochoa | Public Engagement Coodinator, Ontario Council for Cooperation
Michael Ondaatje | Writer
Peggy Pyke-Thompson | Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Environment Program Manager
Lorraine Rekmans | Member of Serpent River First Nation, Indigenous Affairs Critic, Green Party of Canada
Caroline Schultz | Executive Director, Ontario Nature
M.A. (Peggy) Smith | Miskwaanakwadook (Red Cloud Woman), R.P.F. (Ret.), Professor Emerita, Faculty of Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University
David Suzuki | Scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation
Shaelyn Wabegijig | Caribou Clan, Timiskaming First Nation member, Project Manager, Plenty Canada
Peigi Wilson | President, Plenty Canada
Registration is now closed.
Our Birch Bark Basket Workshop will take place on Sunday, March 24th, 2019. This workshop is led by Algonquin master birch bark craftsman Chuck Commanda from Kitigan Zibi. This provides an opportunity for all participants to experience this traditional Algonquin art hands-on, and leave with their very own birch bark basket!
Sunday, March 24th, 2019
10:00am - 4:30pm
266 Plenty Lane, Lanark, ON
Cost: $125 (plus approximately $2 processing fee)
Light refreshments will be provided, but we encourage participants to pack lunch.
Scholarships are available for Indigenous participants; please e-mail email@example.com for more information.
Chuck Commanda is a master Algonquin birch bark canoe builder from the community of Kitigan Zibi. He has been building canoes since he was a child, under the guidance of his highly respected grandparents, William and Mary Commanda. He has spent the past eight years building canoes in the traditional Algonquin style as well as teaching canoe building, birch bark basket-making and snowshoe-making workshops to Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, youth, and adults. Mr. Commanda’s work not only produces beautiful pieces of art of incredible cultural, functional and artistic value, but also embodies the use of cultural arts to transmit Indigenous knowledge among peoples and between generations in the spirit of reconciliation and Indigenous community revitalization.
This workshop is part of the Ginawaydaganuc Project Series, which is supported by the Canadian Council for the Arts.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. - Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.
Plenty Canada is having another very special community event now taking place on:
Saturday March 2nd, and Sunday March 3rd, from 9am until 3pm.
This is a free community event, so no registration is necessary. Donations are welcome.
Jim Richmond and Chuck Commanda are both Algonquin craftsmen who will be making two pairs of traditional Algonquin aagimag (snowshoes). Before the event takes place, Jim and Chuck will bend the wood pieces using boiling water to shape them for the outer base. This will take place on February 23rd and 24th, please join us!
During the Snowshoe Making Community Event, participants will have the opportunity to sew the babiish (Algonquin word for deer hide strips) through the wood base to create the snowshoes. Once they are complete, participants will also have the opportunity to try them on for a winter walk through Plenty Canada's Algonquin managed forest!
Mark your calendars now - we hope to see you there!
Below is an example of the traditional Algonquin snowshoes that we will create and the Algonquin words associated with the snowshoes' parts. This photo was found on the website of an Algonquin Language Project from Golden Lake First Nation. If interested, more information about that project can be found at the link below below:
• We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. • Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.
Come join us on February 9th and 10th for two very special workshops at Plenty Canada!
Jessie-Anne Sarazin from Pikwakinagan First Nation will be facilitating these events:
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9th:
10:00 - 4:00pm
Plenty Canada (266 Plenty Lane, Lanark, ON)
Workshop fee: $50
Light refreshments will be provided; participants are encouraged to pack a lunch.
Jessie-Anne will be teaching techniques for creating traditional Algonquin beadwork. Designs are beaded onto felt, which is then sewn onto an item (moccasins, clothing, bags). This workshop is open to anyone interested in creating a beaded design; they do not have to be specifically for moccasins.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10th:
Making Traditional Moccasins from Hide
10:00 - 4:00pm
Plenty Canada (266 Plenty Lane, Lanark, ON)
Workshop fee: $100
Light refreshments will be provided; participants are encouraged to pack a lunch.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn hands-on skills on how to make a pair of traditional moccasins from deer hide or moose hide. Our deer and moose hides are sourced from Six Nations of the Grand River. Participants will leave with their very own pair of moccasins.
FEBRUARY 9TH & 10TH COMBO DISCOUNT:
Participants who have created their beadwork on Feb 9th, and wish to make moccasins on Feb 10th, will get a reduced rate of $135 for both days! Please select the combo option at registration to receive your reduced rate
• We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
• Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.
The Bear Feast Ceremony was magnificent. It was an intimate gathering led by Algonquin Elder and language speaker from Pikwakanagan, Barry Sarazin. We had the honour to hear Barry explain the history, significance and meaning of the Bear Feast Ceremony. He explained why we pay our respects and pray for the baby bears being born every year after the Winter Solstice to mark the new year, and how the playful bears maintain the health of the forest and its plant life such as food and medicines. He also shared four songs on the Thunderbird Drum that are specific to this ceremony. The feast was so delicious with local and traditional foods, and we offered a plate outside to the bear spirit.
Meegwetch, thank you, merci Barry for this beautiful experience and revitalizing this special ceremony.
We look forward to taking part in more traditional ceremonies here at Plenty Canada!
We had another incredible workshop led by Jessie-Ann Sarazin on Sunday. Each participant designed their own beadwork in their own style, which all turned out beautiful and unique. Some participants plan to attach their beadwork onto their moccasins! We had another visit from the deer on Sunday as well!
The last couple of days have been filled with valuable shared knowledge and experiences that every participant will remember and cherish. Chi miigwetch, thank you so much Jessie-Ann for the honour to learn from you and for sharing your traditional knowledge and skills with us. You make learning so fun and exciting! Another chi miigwetch to the Sarazins and to all of the participants for a beautiful weekend filled with learning, laughter and love.
Join us for more workshops like this one in February! We will keep you posted on our Facebook and Website.
Miigwetch, thank you for the support from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for the creation of this workshop!
We had a beautiful workshop yesterday with lots of laughter, sharing and learning. A doe and her baby also came to the office to visit us during the workshop! These are only half of the participants shown in the photos, but a big warm thank you to everyone who came out and for making yesterday so special!
Miigwetch, thank you to the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the arts for all their support!
Barry Sarazin from Pikwakanagan First Nation, Chuck Commanda from Kitiga Zibi First Nation, Larry McDermott from Sharbot Obajiwinan First Nation, and Plenty Canada Summer Students hosted a gathering to share the language, stories, and teachings of the Anishinaabeg people. The opportunity to educate non-Indigenous youth was seized, as Biosphere Education joined the gathering. Biosphere Education is an organization dedicated to preserving Earths beautiful creatures through storytelling and photo journalism, and for this year’s expedition four youth, led by biologist Dr. Shelley Ball, joined an on-going project to better understand how climate change may affect wild rice, or as it is known by the Anishninaabeg people, Manoomin. By bringing together knowledge holders and the biosphere youth expedition, we created a cross-cultural dialogue that helped gain a deeper understanding of biodiversity for all attendees. Students helped Plenty Canada complete a benthic invertebrate diversity index for McCullochs Mud Lake, a nearby provincially significant wetland, that is home to species at risk such as the Least bittern, and Black tern. This data will be shared in a final report that highlights Manoomin, and how climate change may affect this sacred, and only cereal native to North America.
Chuck Commanda and Cole Williams take the birchbark canoe they built for its maiden voyage.
On July 20, 2018 master birchbark canoe maker Chuck Commanda and his apprentice Cole Williams, with the assistance of Murphy's Point Provincial Park employees, successfully launched a birchbark canoe that was created over a two week period at the park. The canoe launch event included a smudge ceremony, passing of the eagle feather, and guest speaker Larry McDermott, Executive Director of Plenty Canada.
You can read the full story posted by the Perth Courier Newspaper HERE
You can find our full album of photos from the day on our Facebook page
Last Saturday, August 19th, Plenty Canada and Mississippi Mills' All My Relations group hosted a reconciliation event in Almonte at St Paul's Anglican Church, entitled Renewing Our Friendships. We are pleased to report that the event was another resounding success!
There were a number tents set up at the event. One featured information on Plenty Canada, the Circle of All Nations, and an independent arts-based reconciliation project. The event also hosted a number of guest speakers, including Plenty Canada’s own Chuck Commanda and Shaelyn Wabegijig! Throughout the day, Chuck Commanda worked on his birch bark canoe and was there to discuss his work with the attendees.
For the third time this summer, we performed a smudging ceremony at our event. Afterwards, we asked attendees to share their thoughts on reconciliation. The responses that emerged from the attendees were honest, insightful, reflective, and showed much gratitude for what they learned and experienced throughout the day! Find a brief description of responses below.