By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The Canadian Parks and Wildlife Society (CPAWS) Southern Alberta (SA) has received grant funding to renew the popular Indigenous-led nature walks in 2023.
Funding provided by the Field Law Community Grant will be distributed to CPAWS SA, to put on nature walks in Sik-Ooh-Kotoki (Lethbridge) and Mohkinstsis (Calgary.) Education Director at CPAWS SA, Jaclyn Angotti said, “ We’re really grateful to get to be sort of this mediator between the public and some of the Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers that we’ve been able to develop relationships with.”
Angotti said the land-based learning walks, will have participants gain a better understanding and connection to the land through traditional teachings, games, and learning words about the land in Indigenous languages.
“Angotti said, “The only way we’re able to do this and pay the appropriate Elder honorarium in order to bring those Elders to these programs is through funding by donors like Field Law. That’s why we’re really excited to get funding for 2023, so we can put on some more programs that are financially accessible for folks.”
Angotti said, “We don’t want to create any barriers to being able to access connection to Indigenous knowledge, especially for Indigenous folks themselves that may not have the opportunity to connect with an Elder. There shouldn’t be any financial barriers to that. So for all folks we run a, ‘pay what you can’ type ticket,” she added.
CPAWS also carefully considers space and land when selecting locations or parks to ensure people with mobility challenges are able to participate in the programming. CPAWS partners with Adaptable Outdoors out of Pincher Creek to provide additional volunteer supports to participants who require adaptive equipment, even if the lesson takes participants off the main pathways. The Lethbridge nature walk will be held at Indian Battle Park in 2023 to ensure interested participants are able to access the nature walk by public transit. This location also features pathways which are wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
Angotti said she excited to keep the program running in 2023, noting the program will amplify Indigenous voices and create space to examine conservation through an Indigenous lens. She said the is grateful the program will, “help to elevate the voices of these Elders and Elder Knowledge Keepers because they are the original caretakers of this land.”
“There’s so much for all of us here in Treaty 7, to learn from them. All of the feedback we get is just so inspiring of what folks have been able to take away from the Elders.”
The program dates and not band times are not yet confirmed for 2023, but will likely occur in the late spring. More information about CPAWS SA can be found by visiting https://cpaws-southernalberta.org/.
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