In December, 2011, several staff members were forwarded information from Dr Stephen Wyatt (Université de Moncton) regarding a specific call for Aboriginal themed presentations at the upcoming 18th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM). In June, 2012, I had the privilege to travel to North America, to Edmonton, Alberta (Canada), to participate in that five day conference (17-21 June). The theme - Linking the North and the South: Responding to Environmental Change.
Me @ Moraine Lake, Banff National Park (Photo by Helanna Lealand)
Background to Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province Alberta, located on the Western side of Canada. It is surrounded by the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the Canadian territory Northwest Territories and the American state of Montana. Edmonton is the most northerly city in North America. The traditional custodians of the Greater Edmonton area are First Nation peoples likely from the Blackfoot and Cree nations. Edmonton’s metropolitan population in 2011 was recorded at approximately 1.2 million, making it more than eight times the size of Darwin in population! In December last year Edmonton recorded a low temperature of -58°C with wind chill, the local newspaper saying that only Siberia was colder! So Edmonton is much bigger and much colder in comparison to what we are used to in Darwin!!!
The goal of the International Association for Society and Natural Resources is to promote learning and discussion about the intersection of social issues and natural resource management and policy. Since its inception in 1986, the ISSRM has become the premier scientific meeting for academic and government researchers, students, land managers and NGO representatives who are broadly interested in the human dimensions of natural resources and the environment. According to the conference website the conference organisers’ expected an attendance of 500-800 research scientists, government agency managers, graduate students, non-profit employees, and private consultants.
With the Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network Executive Committee members, (Ms Cherry Daniels, Mr Dean Yibarbuk, Ms Edna Nelson and Mr Otto Bulmaniya Campion), RIEL Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Dr Bev Sithole, and I prepared a poster entitled Networking for change: Experiences of the Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network (ARPNet) in Northern Australia. The poster session was very well attended with several people approaching Bev and I to talk about the experiences of ARPNet. The highlight for me was when a Native American Indian woman told us that this is an idea she has been trying to promote within her community! At the end of that day we asked if she would like to take the poster with her, she gladly accepted. Bev is continuing discussions with Canadian contacts regarding Indigenous issues in Canada and possible comparisons with Australia.
Acknowledgements and thanks
Thanks to ARPNet members and its supporters who tirelessly push the interests of Indigenous people to grow stronger as research practitioners’. Thank you to friends and their families who looked after Bev and I while away from home – Ms Helanna Lealand, Dr Katy Nkem and Prof. Marty Lukert. Thank you for the help from Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods staff, Ms Allison O’Keefe, Prof. Andrew Campbell, Mr Michael Brand, Dr Natasha Stacey, Prof. Owen Stanley and Ms Roanne Ramsey. A special thanks to Ms Crystal Campbell for her time in designing the poster for the conference.