Indigenous Engagement Update – Catching up with Bob & Emory

Bob and Emory's Indigenous engagement efforts are central to the Biosphere’s work.
Bob and Emory's Indigenous engagement efforts are central to the Biosphere’s work.

While summer means slowing down for some, our Indigenous Engagement Coordinator Bob Montgomery and Indigenous Program Assistant Emory Arcand are as busy as ever. Here’s just a snapshot of the important work they’ve been tackling in the Biosphere.

Last month, they spent time with Alexis Nakoda and Kehewin First Nations, sharing about the Biosphere and its work. At the Metis Nation of Alberta Aski gathering Bob spoke with Aski Guardian staff about collaboration opportunities for Métis citizens. They also leant their expertise and experience to partner organizations, supporting Parks Canada and the University of Alberta, among others, in Indigenous engagement strategies.

Over the last month, they worked with amiskwaciy Academy, Edmonton Public School Board’s Indigenous high school, and Blue Quills University, an Indigenous university near St. Paul. With the students at amiskwaciy Academy, they supported land-based learning and have planned camps with the Academy’s students. At Blue Quills, they connected students in the Community Based Environmental Monitoring Training program to learn in the Biosphere and camp at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park as part of their environmental education.

Connecting Indigenous people back to land and their traditional knowledge is an important component of Bob and Emory’s work. As the Treaty Land Sharing Network (TLSN) expands into Alberta, Bob and Emory are supporting them in getting established. TLSN works with ranchers, farmers and landowners to honour treaties and help Indigenous people needing safe access to land to practice their way of life.

Together with Boyle Street Community Services, the Biosphere hosted a Medicines and Berries Walk this month, led by cultural educator Natalie Pepin. Boyle Street serves people who live in poverty or experience houselessness. Many of the people who rely on Boyle Street’s services are Indigenous and struggling to survive on their own lands. This walk is another opportunity to help Indigenous people foster meaningful connections to their homelands.

In late August, Bob and Emory participated in Treaty Day and Pow Wow at Alexander First Nation. Alexander First Nation has a significant oral history in the Beaver Hills, and the Treaty Day was an opportunity for Bob and Emory to connect more community members with their efforts to get people out on their home-place.

Finally, Bob runs a monthly, virtual discussion group called Campfire Conversation. Focusing on one article, work of art or podcast every month invites everyone into the conversation on different topics relating to Indigenous conservation.  On the last Tuesday of each month they meet virtually to discuss some of the questions that emerge and how people might integrate this knowledge into their personal and professional lives. Register here.

Indigenous engagement is central to the Biosphere’s work. We’re fortunate to have dedicated, knowledgeable people like Bob and Emory doing this work.


Thank you for doing this work!!

Michael Pyska