Tag Archive for: environmental accountability

Time to Grow

No rest for the weary, nor a reward for the faint of heart. That is what I said to myself when I took on a facilitation role for an environmental course in Merritt, BC.

The challenge: effectively deliver the ECO Canada curriculum for Environmental Monitoring and Research Skills, to 11 members of 8 regional indigenous bands represented by the Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly.

Now I am glad that my entrepreneurial spirit still had fuel in its tank because when I said yes to the part, I needed the courage to take on a role outside of my typical suite of activities.

You see, I am a green hand at facilitating this type of event. So, by taking the position I had to grapple with my deep desires to effectively connect, equip, and inspire the students, and not lose heart as a result of my hidden yet ever-changing emotional highs and lows.

We all know those feelings, the ones that range from fear of rejection to the excitement of acceptance, rejoicing with wins to humiliation when misunderstood, embarrassment coupled with frustration at not communicating well, and hope-inspired confidence when concepts are easily grasped.

Attendees from the Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly share environmental observations and cultural values associated with freshwater systems. Riparian area of the Coldwater River, Merritt, British Columbia, October 2022.


After 4 weeks together and a successful course completion, I was reminded that…

  • Effective learning and good dialogue go hand in hand. Both are maximized when speakers and listeners are clear, topics are focused, respect is maintained, and seeking to fully understand happens before responses are provided.
  • Facilitators have a lot in the game. I realized that one sleepless night as I worried about the success of the students and their forthcoming exam.
  • Controversial words and questions can generate sparks in a discussion. I witnessed that when we spoke of issues related to environmental stewardship responsibility and accountability. That said, tough questions need not be avoided. In fact, courageously faced and wisely handled, mature discussions that generate sparks can promote an honest look for the long-overlooked solution to a persistent problem.
  • Working alongside eager learners is pretty darned exciting. Especially when they show up 10 minutes early, every day! Add to that their high level of in-class participation and a willingness to do the work, and I have a winning group of candidates! Wow!
  • Thank you is a powerful word and a response I often heard.

This event was full of personal and professional development opportunities. Be they in the variety of questions brought forward, the sharing of personal accounts that are somehow timeless in their relevance, or when faced with complex issues that can only be solved using an effective combination of the traditional and the scientific. So, because I am neither done learning nor growing this will not be my last adventure of this sort.


Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly students after a water quality assessment field demonstration, Coldwater River, Merritt, British Columbia, October 2022.


A very special thank you and recognition to Ryleigh Campbell, Education & Training Coordinator (Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly) for hosting this event, and Simon Savinel, Project Advisor (ECO Canada) for his logistical support.

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No Harm Occurs in Forestland Environmental Reclamation, Right? Wrong?

The end goal in proper environmental reclamation in the forest is to undo damage to the ecosystem and replace it with something good. And I can do this without creating environmental harm, right? Wrong.

This month an obvious, yet often overlooked question was posed to me by a 10-year-old girl during an online presentation to children ranging from grades 4 to 6. While listening to my stories related to working in the forest the child asked, “when you are working, does your job ever hurt small birds?”  Now, as a dad, I am used to hearing such questions and have never felt uncomfortable in my response, “sometimes to do good, you create a little bit of harm”. Now, do I like that reality? No. Is it the truth? Yes.

So here is what I said to the child, “When I work in the forest, I try to make sure that I am not hurting small animals so this is what I do.

    • First, I make sure that I know the land and the types of animals that live there, the ones that live there for a short time and the ones that live there all year. To do that I need to collect information about the site and start talking with people that know a lot more than me about the site and its animals.
    • After talking to them I start to develop a plan to fix the site in a way that does not hurt the animals, get permission from the owners to do the work, and make sure I follow the law.

Now, to answer your question directly, this past season we changed our project start date by three weeks because of small birds. Why? Well, we needed to cut down some small trees that, at that time of year, sometimes have small bird nests on the branches. So, what we did is we waited until the bird eggs hatched and the baby ones flew away. After they left, we went in and did our work. Now, is it possible that we missed a nest or a bird? Yes. Why? Because the forest is huge, birds hide their nests in the branches, and it is impossible to be perfect. But we did follow the government rules and did our own check of the trees before we cut them down. What that means is this, when we were trying to fix the land, we do our absolute best not to hurt birds. Unfortunately, we are not always perfect, but we sure try.”

Although experienced in the art of talking to small children, it was a hard question to answer, because deep down I know that even if I do not intentionally create harm in my actions, it does not mean it has not happened. In the end, I am trying to do the right thing, and sometimes I unknowingly create harm. As a professional, a dad, a neighbour and a respecter of the land, it was a reminder for me to remain sober about the reality that sometimes in the act of doing good, I can create harm. To reduce the potential and consequences of harmful outcomes associated with my activities, I shall remain duly diligent ….

Figure 1. Nighthawk nesting, Axe Lake, Saskatchewan, 2014

More themes remain for me to revisit, and many more new ideas await my discovery as I explore the exciting world of Reclaimit’sforest remediation and reclamation services, and travel across the provinces of Canada and around the world in project-related adventures. Have a question about my blog articles, reclamation services, or have a forestry-related question? Click here to drop me an email!


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