About this Event


We are pleased to announce the next dialogue in our Reconciling Ways of Knowing: Indigenous Knowledge and Science Online Forum series: ‘Connecting Spiritually with the Land and Each Other.’

Join Elder Dr. Dave Courchene, Grandmother Katherine Whitecloud, Dr. Blair Stonechild in dialogue with Moderator Shaunna Morgan Siegers on our essential and spiritual connection with the land and each other.

“Connecting Spiritually with the Land and Each Other” will discuss our fundamental connection to and inseparability from the world and each other and how this understanding carries a spiritual dimension for Indigenous Peoples, to which we remain connected through our ceremonies. This is a foundational understanding present in many Indigenous ways of knowing but often missing from the dominant worldview that has shaped Canadian environmental policy.

After an initial discussion, our other Reconciling Ways of Knowing Convenors, Miles Richardson, OC; Dr. David Suzuki; and Dr. Nancy Turner will share their thoughts and insights on this discussion of relation and spiritual connection. Moderator Shaunna Morgan Siegers will then turn to our audience-participants for thoughts and questions for the speakers.

Our intention is to hold space for this discussion to take shape as guided by spiritual direction, to begin the new calendar year off in a good way, as we continue with our Reconciling Ways of Knowing: Indigenous Knowledge and Science Online Forum Series into 2021. We hope you can join us.

This is a ticketed event to cover the costs of organizing and hosting. Tickets are $10 per person. For anyone able to contribute at a higher level to support our organizing efforts, we also provide a $25 and $50 registration option and gratefully appreciate your support for our efforts to organize this ongoing critical dialogue. Thank you for your support.

Speaker Biographies:


Known to many as Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Leading Earth Man), Dave Courchene has touched many lives through his teachings. A respected Elder and knowledge keeper of the Anishinaabe Nation, he has devoted his life to creating a healthy environment for current and future generations, carrying messages of hope and peace around the globe, and learning the knowledge and traditions of Indigenous Peoples around the world. Serving as a member of the Wisdom Keepers of the United Nations since 1992, he has acted in an advisory capacity to the UN in areas of spirituality and sustainable environmental stewardship. In his efforts to bring a message of peace and hope to the world, Elder Courchene founded Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness – a partner in the Reconciling Ways of Knowing: Indigenous Knowledge and Science project – as a place of learning, healing and sharing for all people, in 2002. He has built alliances with institutions, academics, and policymakers across the country, and is known for his ability to inspire dialogue and cross-cultural understanding. Elder Courchene’s work has been recognized with many prestigious honours, including, most recently, an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Winnipeg.



Katherine Whitecloud is a mother, grandmother, community leader and knowledge keeper from Wipazoka Wakpa Dakota Nation. Chosen at the age of 16 to represent her people, she has been a spokesperson for her Nation for over 30 years. Over this time, she has worked for her community in several roles, including as Chief and Director of Education, and with a focus on Indigenous health and wellness. She was also Chief Executive Officer of the Assembly of First Nations, Director of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Manitoba Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Her work lies in ensuring the life and teachings articulated and envisioned by her forefathers are honoured and protected. Knowledge keeper Katherine Whitecloud is a member of the Turtle Lodge National Council of Elders and Knowledge Keepers. She is currently engaged in drawing on the knowledge of Indigenous knowledge keepers worldwide to build greater momentum for Indigenous-led Indigenous health systems across the country.



A Professor of Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan; Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Regina; and a member of the Muscowpetung First Nation, Blair Stonechild is a teacher and author. He attended Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School and Campion Collegiate, obtained his Bachelor’s degree from McGill University before obtaining a Master’s and a Doctorate degree from the University of Regina. In 1976, Dr. Stonechild became the first faculty member at First Nations University and has been Dean of Academics and Executive Director of Development. His major publications include Loyal Till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion (1997); The New Buffalo: Aboriginal Post-secondary Policy in Canada (2006); Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way (2012); The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality (2016) and Loss of Indigenous Eden and the Fall of Spirituality (2020).



Shaunna Morgan Siegers resides in rural Manitoba. She is a member of the Crees of Waskaganish [WAA-skagan-ish] First Nation situated on the southern shores of James Bay in Eeyou Istchee [EE-you IST-chee] and has a long history of living and working with First Nations and tribes across Turtle Island. Shaunna holds a master’s degree in botany and has more than 20 years of ethnobiological experience. She is the Operations Manager for the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and has been involved in the Reconciling Ways of Knowing: Indigenous Knowledge and Science project since 2017.



Miles G. Richardson, O.C., is a citizen of the Haida Nation and an Officer of the Order of Canada. Early in his career, while serving as Administrator for the Skidegate Band Council, he directed the establishment of the Haida Gwaii Watchmen program. Then, while serving as the youngest President of the Council of the Haida Nation (1984-1996), he led the drafting of the Constitution of the Haida Nation; development of the first comprehensive Haida Nation land and marine use plan, enacted under Haida law; and negotiation of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement, the first Nation-to-Nation agreement between the Haida Nation and Canada, which protected the Gwaii Haanas area of his people’s homeland, Haida Gwaii. He was a member of the BC Claims Task Force recommending negotiations to build a new relationship. He served as a delegate of the First Nations Summit Task Group (1991-1993) and was subsequently nominated by the Summit and appointed as a Commissioner to the BC Treaty Commission for two terms. He served as Chief Commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission (1998-2004).



Dr. David Suzuki is a father, grandfather, environmental activist, and an award-winning geneticist and broadcaster, known particularly for his roles in the CBC Radio show Quirks and Quarks and CBC Television’s The Nature of Things. He is widely recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology and has received numerous awards for his work, including a UNESCO prize for science and a United Nations Environment Program medal. Along with his partner, Tara Cullis, Miles Richardson, and others, he helped co-found the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990. For his support of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Suzuki has been honoured with eight names and formal adoption by two First Nations.



Dr. Nancy Turner is an ethnobotanist whose research integrates the fields of botany and ecology with anthropology, geography and linguistics, amongst others. She is interested in the traditional knowledge systems and traditional land and resource management systems of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in western Canada. She has worked with Indigenous Elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 40 years, collaborating with Indigenous communities to help document, retain and promote their traditional knowledge of plants and habitats, including Indigenous foods, materials and medicines, as well as language and vocabulary relating to plants and environments. Her interests also include the roles of plants and animals in narratives, ceremonies, language and belief systems.


(Information source: Eventbrite page for this event)

(Image source: Eventbrite page for this event)

This webinar series will provide up-to-date information about research to support caribou recovery in Canada. A variety of topics will be explored from understanding the mechanisms of caribou declines to testing recovery options. While this series is currently dominated by presentations from Western Canada, presentations will continue to be added to include a national and international scope. The series will run approximately every second Tuesday.


(Image: Caribou Monitoring Unit)

This webinar series will provide up-to-date information about research to support caribou recovery in Canada. A variety of topics will be explored from understanding the mechanisms of caribou declines to testing recovery options. While this series is currently dominated by presentations from Western Canada, presentations will continue to be added to include a national and international scope. The series will run approximately every second Tuesday.


(Image: Caribou Monitoring Unit)

Researchers and Community looking at maps of flooding events

(Image: Researchers and community members looking at maps of flooding events in YQFN)


Being no stranger to threats from climate change through growing up with constant flooding, forest fires, and extreme weather overwhelming his community, Myron Neapetung, a Councilor at Yellow Quill First Nation, had an idea to help his community be better prepared for the future. Over the years, he had built relationships with the University of Saskatchewan, and felt like it was time to start gathering the Elders’ stories and working with scientists on climate change concerns so that ongoing problems could finally be resolved. In May 2018, together with Lori Bradford, an Assistant Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, Myron launched a First Nations Adapt Program grant to look at their community’s vulnerability to more frequent flooding brought on by the effects of the climate emergency.

The project had four main parts. Looking back through records at the Band office, and the urban services office in Saskatoon, Myron realized that the community was short on record keeping and mapping capacities, so the first step was to contract LiDAR services (Light Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing method that uses a pulsed laser to measure ranges) for the entire watershed. With this very detailed information about the elevation of the land around the reserve, computer modelers at the University of Saskatchewan were able to put together risk maps and put these maps into models that predict flooding. The community was presented with maps that showed where water would likely go if there were a variety of storms, like 50- and 100mm flooding events. Elders and knowledge holders in the community verified these maps to help the computer modelers improve their accuracy. With a shortage of LIDAR available in Saskatchewan, the University-based modelers were very grateful to be involved in this work and learning from those experiencing flooding was incredibly valuable to them.

Picture 1: LIDAR DEM Map showing elevation

lidar map

The second step involved bringing people, young and old, from the community together to talk about flooding. That involved many community meetings in the summer of 2018, interviews with Elders and knowledge holders, projects with school students, and sharing circles. We also used a variety of other data gathering techniques like drawing and taking pictures of flood effects, going on extensive community tours, hosting poster sessions for feedback on any information gathered already, and enjoying many community lunches together. Myron, University students, and the researchers then analyzed the combined data from these activities and made posters and presentations to share with the community and other researchers at conferences.

Picture 2: Community meeting with posters

Community meeting with posters

The third step involved hiring three summer students in the community to look at the emergency management planning documents, and talk with emergency personnel, such as firefighters, road crews, water treatment officers, Chief and Council members, health care workers, wellness center staff, and others involved during emergencies. These students catalogued everyone’s ideas to improve emergency plans in the case of flooding. The three summer students are in the middle of summarizing their results and comparing them to what is written in the official documents.

Picture 3: Photo of records of previous work on flood engineering

Flood engineering

The last step for the vulnerability assessment was to invite some engineering experts to do an infrastructure assessment in the community to give a thorough review of important infrastructure that is at risk from ongoing flooding. The First Nation PIEVC Infrastructure Resilience Toolkit process will be occurring August 19-23rd in Yellow Quill with the assistance of the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Cooperative, Stantec Inc., and the Saskatchewan First Nations Technical Services Co-operative.

Picture 4: Where the water will go for certain flood events

Yellow Quill FN Watershed


The overall goal is to learn about the vulnerabilities of Yellow Quill First Nation so informed decisions about how to prepare for a future of unpredictable climate-related challenges can be made in a way that respects community-held knowledge and experience while also harnessing some of the hydrological modelling sciences to predict how climate change might affect daily life. This first climate change adaptation opportunity has spearheaded YQFN’s involvement in a number of research projects around water at the University of Saskatchewan and farther afield in Canada, and has provided a lot of capacity building opportunities for people from Yellow Quill to learn more about climate change, floods, research, and emergency management.


Authors: Myron Neapetung, Yellow Quill First Nation and Lori Bradford, University of Saskatchewan


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