Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference
Winnipeg, Manitoba
February 19 - 21, 2019



Plenary 1:  The Prairie Crisis – Moving the Ledger

Presenter: Trevor Herriot

Trevor Herriot 3820

 Abstract: More than 30 years after the PCESC conferences began, we have seen some progress in public awareness and even some small victories in species and habitat protection, but the overall decline of prairie species has accelerated and there are never enough funds to protect, restore, and manage the ecosystems that need it. It may be time to see the crisis in prairie ecosystems as part of the global crisis shaped by climate change and the collapse of wild systems. Industrialized agriculture and food systems figure strongly both locally and globally in the way we frame the crisis, but usually on the causation side of the ledger. In his presentation, naturalist and author Trevor Herriot will look at these matters and consider the potential of “regenerative agriculture” to move across the ledger, addressing climate change and biodiversity loss, while inviting more people into a culture of care for the soil, ecologies and creatures that share our common home.

Biography: Trevor Herriot is a naturalist, writer, and co-chair of Public Pastures--Public Interest. He is the author of several award-winning books, including Grass, Sky, Song and the national bestseller River in a Dry Land, both of which were short-listed for the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction. He is the 2017 recipient of the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence. Towards a Prairie Atonement, published in October 2016, took two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Islands of Grass, a book of his essays accompanying the photographs of Branimir Gjetvaj, released in the fall of 2017, also won two Saskatchewan Book Awards. He has published essays and articles in The Globe & Mail, Brick, Border Crossings, Canadian Geographic, and several anthologies. Herriot is featured regularly on CBC Radio and is a frequent guest on the call-in show Blue Sky. He and his wife, Karen, live in Regina, have four adult children, and spend much of their time on a piece of Aspen Parkland prairie east of the city.


Plenary 4:  What is Indigenous-Led Conservation?

Presenter: Shaunna Morgan Siegers

Shaunna Morgan Photo

Abstract: I’ve often heard that the greatest biodiversity is found on the lands occupied and used by Indigenous peoples.  A 2017 headline reported: Indigenous Peoples Guard 80 Per Cent of World’s Biodiversity.  Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island (aka North America) and around the world have been the original conservationists – although they would never phrase it like that as the term conservation is so foreign to them and even has negative connotations given its hierarchical nature placing humans in a position of power as managers over plants, animals, water, etc. 

The common ground in the Indigenous-led “conservation” of plants, animals and other living organisms often comes from the value many Indigenous peoples place on all life – you’ve probably heard the term “all my relations” and if you’ve heard a prayer translated from an Indigenous language into English you would likely hear the Elder thanking all the elements of life – air, water, earth, fire, the four directions and all the living creatures. It’s all about relationships and the act of carefully nurturing and maintaining those relationships.  All relationships are multidimensional, intraspecific and interspecific– like an infinite-dimensional web – everything is connected. For many Indigenous peoples who follow a traditional way, relationships are guided by the seven sacred teachings: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth – these are the laws that govern their decisions and actions. These values and teachings – once nearly stripped away by colonization, religious conversion and residential schools – are being taught by the Elders once again.

Like the diversity of Indigenous cultures around the world, Indigenous-led conservation can take many shapes. I will present three forms of Indigenous-led conservation promoted and supported by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative: Indigenous Guardians, Indigenous Land Use Planning and Indigenous Protected Areas and connect how each of these relates to species at risk. I will also present on considerations for collaboration and reconciliation through Indigenous-led conservation.

Biography: Shaunna Morgan Siegers is Operations Manager for the Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI). Born, raised and currently living in southern Manitoba, she is a member of The Crees of Waskaganish First Nation situated on the southern shores of James Bay in Eeyou Istchee. A scientist with bachelor and master degrees in botany, she possesses more than 25 years of research, Indigenous Knowledge and environmental science experience. Shaunna has lived and/or worked with many First Nations across Canada. Shaunna has a deeply held sense of responsibility to protect the environment and keep it healthy for future generations. She seeks well-balanced solutions to address the complex environmental, social, cultural and economic challenges we all face.