Book Club: we read “Being Caribou”

Male caribou with big antlers strutting across a meadow

Grab an ice cold drink and settle into your lawn chair: it’s the Terra Informa Summer Book Club! You’re invited to read along with us and share comments or reviews via email, twitter or on facebook. This month, Yvette Thompson leads a discussion on Karsten Heuer’s non-fiction book, Being Caribou.

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Book Club: Being Caribou

This past month, we read Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer. It tells the story of Karsten and his wife Leanne Allison on their journey to document the migration of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. And it all takes place amidst of the controversy over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Listen in on the book club discussion, and grab a copy of your own to enjoy this summer. In addition to the full length book, Being Caribou also comes in a children’s version and was made into a documentary film. Find the print versions at your local community library and watch the documentary online courtesy of the National Film Board.

Read this for July 23: The Year of the Flood/For the Birds

Terra Informa’s reading club pick for July is a pair of books by Canada’s Margaret Atwood – master of sharp words and cautionary tales.

The Year of the Flood is the second book in the Maddaddam series that began with Oryx & Crake. The series explores dark truths about human nature, genetic manipulation, and a world where ChickieNobs and rakunks portend a new age for humanity. Following our joyous accident of reading both an adult and kids’ book in June, we’re also reading Atwood’s children’s fable For the Birds.

Read along, and let us know what you think by July 23! Email us at or tweet us @terrainforma to let us know what you think of either of the books. Leave us your phone number and we’ll give you a call.

What’s Happening

Great Canadian Beaver Pond Voyage/Excursion au pays des castors

An interpretive guided walk puts you in a beautiful, pristine nature reserve featuring Mactaquac Provincial Park’s remarkable chain of beaver ponds. Join in hands-on activities introducing wetland wonders nestled in our Acadian forest. The gentle wheelchair accessible trails allow folks of all ages and abilities to enjoy the experience.

Every Wednesday in June, July and August from 11am – 12:30pm. Tour begins at the Mactaquac Park Administration building (1256 Route 105). Provided as a free public service by New Brunswick Tourism, Heritage, and Culture.

Wilderness Skills Intensive Weekend

Join Sticks and Stones Wilderness School’s Skeet Sutherland as he takes you on a crash course of wilderness and survival skills! Friday, July 4 to Sunday July 6 in Toronto.

The basic human needs in any situation are Shelter, Water, Fire, and Food. In this weekend workshop, participants learn how to turn a stressful survival situation into a wilderness living adventure.

Participants will learn how to locate natural materials for building Shelters, how to locate and sanitize Water, to make Fire by friction (bow-drill/hand-drill), to learn about various North American Plants (where they grow, how to harvest and process them), and to harvest animals in energy-efficient ways.

Bon Portage Island Clean-Up

Saturday July 5, 2014, Bon Portage Island, Nova Scotia: Join us as we roll up our sleeves and don our gloves, and work to remove washed up litter from Bon Portage Island’s shoreline. This is your chance to contribute to the stewardship of this amazing and ecologically rich place, which was is protected in partnership Acadia University. Rain date: July 12. Space is limited so please register: alice (at) or 902-425-5263.

Laura’s “You can eat that?!” Wild Edible Adventure

Saturday July 5, 2014 in Gardenton, New Brunswick. Get ready for a fun adventure in wild edible plant identification, harvesting and preparation! These one-day workshops will give you the confidence you need to incorporate a variety of common wild edibles into everyday meals. With Laura’s guidance, you will prepare a full-course meal with a variety of wild edibles that you gathered, yourself! (As many as 14 species of plants have been gathered by a single class!)

Class size is limited to 12 to maximize your hands-on experience! Cost: $130 (save $20 by registering 30 days in advance).

Friend or Food? And Other Musings

Image Credit: Tanakawho

Image Credit: Tanakawho


This week on Terrainforma, we speak with David Schindler and Kamal Bawa about the chasm between science and policy. Danielle gives us the rundown on edible container gardening, and Kieran O’Donovan questions what makes for acceptable meat-eating.

Download this episode now.

Mind the Gap

Let’s be honest. Science rules. It’s how we learn what’s going on beneath our feet and up in space. There would be a lot that we would be missing out on without having some understanding of the laws of matter. However, this gleaming enthusiasm for science doesn’t necessarily reflect in government policy. So what do the scientists have to say about the gap?

Trevor Chow-Fraser and Yvette Thompson were curious and took it up with David Schindler and Kamal Bawa when they came to Edmonton to receive honorary degrees for their work in science and policy.

Dispatches from the Dirt

Gardening for food is more than just a hobby. It’s a way of life for people all over the world. When we consider the future of our planet, developing sustainable food systems begins at home. Terrainforma’s Danielle Dolgoy gives us the scoop about about edible container gardening.

Friend or Food?

When is an animal a friend and when is it food? Kieran O’Donovan straddles an interesting line that gives him a unique perspective on when an animal is a friend, and when it’s dinner. He’s a wildlife biologist and documentary filmmaker, but when he goes home to the Yukon, he’s also a hunter. Terra Informa’s Natalee Rawat discusses with Kieran about how he sees our relationships with other animals.

What’s Happening

Driftwood Art Competition – Fredericton, NB, Main Beach, Mack-ta-cack Provincial Park: July 1 1-4 PM

Come and view the sculptures made using stuff found at the beach. The rules for this art competition are:  use anything found at the beach, but, your creation must include some driftwood. You can also join in creating Driftwood Paintings with Acrylic paint (supplies will be provided). This event is free to participate in, but there is an $8 vehicle entry fee to enter the park
Visit for more information.

Yoga at the Garden – Lethbridge, AB, Niko Yuka Japanese Garden: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:15-10 AM

It’s just their luck for those yogis looking to the great outdoors this summer, because the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden will be hosting yoga in their garden. You can register at the visitor center of the Japanese Garden. Buy a block of 5 or ten classes or pay the drop in fee of $15. Visit for more information.

Moonlight Hike & Wolf Howl – Manitoulin Island, ON, Gordon’s Park Eco Resort: June 29 8 PM

Moonlight Hike & Wolf Howl is an orientation about wolves and their habitats and the type of species that can be found on Manitoulin Island. Participants will also call for wolves, search for their tracks and watch for other signs of wildlife on a guided educational nature hike. A howling competition around the campfire with really great wolf souvenir prizes follows the hike. Registration is $15.00 per person or $35 a family (2 Adults and kids under 16.) Tax is included. There are limited spots, so call to register! The number is 705-859-2470. You can also email or check out for more information.


Turning Perspectives Upside Down

It's a visualization of the Blatchford Redevelopment, on the site of the old City Centre Airport. Photo credit: Perkins + Will/City of Edmonton

It’s a visualization of the Blatchford Redevelopment, on the site of the old City Centre Airport. Photo credit: Perkins + Will/City of Edmonton

This week on Terra Informa, two new stories that have us envisioning, and then questioning our future environmental perspectives, with a story on the new Edmonton Ambleside Ecostation and the Blatchford Redevelopment project, in “Treadmill”, and then a story about one woman’s deep shift in her perspective on knowledge of our planet in this week’s Eye-opener. We’ll also revisit a really fun story about the red squirrel of the Yukon and the tricks it employs to stay alive in the great North with “The Little Squirrel that Could”.

Download episode updated June 16, 2014 at 23:30

The Treadmill

It seems like we’re perpetually hearing that the next big leap in technology is right around the corner. Ten years from now, we’ll be driving hyper-efficient electric cars. Twenty years from now, all our coal plants will be equipped with high-tech carbon scrubbers. This week, Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips wondered: what are the alternatives to waiting for the latest and greatest new technology to come around and replace what we’re using today? He speaks to Tony Colangelo, a supervisor at the Ambleside Ecostation in Edmonton. Thanks also to Joyce Drohan, at Perkins + Will in Vancouver. She was the project lead on the Blatchford Redevelopment project in Edmonton.

Edit: Since the airing of this interview, there has been controversy over the project’s budget being unable to meet its original vision. (More Info)

Links: Perkins + Will: Blatchford RedevelopmentCity of Edmonton: Meet Blatchford

Eye-opener: Science Doesn’t Have a Monopoly

What are the moments that opened your eyes to a more profound connection with nature? What conversations shifted the way you see a major environmental issue of our time? Rose Yewchuk told Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips that novelist Monica Hughes, who wrote about ice, snow, and people, helped her realize that science doesn’t have a monopoly on knowledge about our planet. Hughes passed away in 2003, and she is remembered today through the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Links: Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and FantasyMonica Hughes Biography (UVic)

The Little Squirrel That Could

The Red Squirrel of the Yukon Territory weighs less than half a pound. They can be seen spending their days collecting pine cones, and scampering up trees. They are an animal that wouldn’t be out of place in your favorite children’s cartoon.  Not a very formidable presence when you consider their imposing surroundings in the great wilderness that is the Yukon.  But as we’ll soon find out, the red squirrel has a little trick up its sleeve. Matt Hirji spoke with University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin to find out more.

What’s Happening

Fredericton Tools Donations

The Greener Village Community Food Centre is collecting for aspiring gardeners. Bring your used garden tools, books and supplies to the Greener Village Community Food Centre, at 686 Riverside Drive. They are especially happy to collect kid’s garden tools – so if your spring cleaning efforts present little green shovels, take them by the centre. This Spring Yard Clean Up initiative goes until the end of the month.

Ted Parnell Scholarship

Looking for some money? The Yukon Conservation Society offers an annual scholarship of $500 to one lucky student that is pursuing any type of environmental studies. The Ted Parnell scholarship fund suggests that students interests in areas pertaining to northern environments are best suited to this award. But apply quickly! The deadline for this award is June 30th.

Bike Week Winnipeg

It is Bike Week in Winnipeg! The first annual bike week starts up June 16 and runs until June 22. Want to help out? First of all, grab your helmet and get on your two-wheeled wonder. Secondly, help get other people jazzed about riding their bat-cycles through hosting a pit stop, running an event, or volunteering.

Summer and CO2 in the air

Two people placing a small plant into the ground.

Ahhh. Summer has arrived, and Terra Informa’s got your gardening Q’s covered with our new segment, Dispatches from the Dirt. Of course, it’s hard to enjoy the weather if the skies are black with fumes—and making you sick. This begs the question, how does one find out if the environment is the cause of certain illnesses in the first place? Finally, we get an economist’s guide to the complex climate change negotiations from a Killam Prize winner.

Download episode

The Debut of Dispatches from the Dirt

We’ve got a hot new column for you guys. This summer, Danielle Dolgoy, amateur gardener and a food sustainability enthusiast, brings us tips, tricks, and titillating tales from the garden with her segment Dispatches from the Dirt. Over the summer, Dispatches from the Dirt will answer questions about what to plant, when to plant it, and how to make the most out of limited space and a short growing season. You’ll also hear stories from people working on Edmonton’s Living Bridge, and shout outs to garden happenings around town and across Canada.

What is the Living Bridge project? It entails bringing together gardeners with all levels of experience to grow whatever food and flowers they can coax out of the soil along an area that was once an old railroad bridge, and Terra Informa’s Danielle Dolgoy happens to be a part of it. Situated on the edge of downtown Edmonton, the bridge is a crossing point for the downtown bike route, so if you’re ever going that way, head on over through the garden to check out what’s growing!

Links: Living Bridge EdmontonSustainable Food Edmonton

John Whalley on the Economics of Climate Negotiations

We’ve been covering environmental award-winners lately, and we’ve got one more for you: 2012 Killam Prize-winning economist John Whalley of the University of Western Ontario. He has spent a long career applying thoughtful economic analysis to global problems, including one of the most internationally contentious issues: the United Nations climate negotiations. Trevor Chow-Fraser sits down with John Whalley to find out an economist’s spin on the negotiations.

Links: Dr. John Whalley, FRSC

Is That Why I’m Getting Sick?

Say you experience nausea, headaches, and fainting, and have no idea why. That’s the situation the Labreque family was faced with and eventually, they pointed fingers at fumes coming from bitumen storage tanks near their farm outside of Peace River, in northern Alberta. The links between their health problems and Baytex Energy’s oil operations in Peace River convinced the Labreque family to leave their home and most of their belongings, which drew the attention of British medical journal The Lancet. This March, the Alberta Energy Regulator told Baytex it had to contain the emissions from its bitumen tanks by August.

But, with illnesses such as the one the Labreque’s were faced with, how do they we know it’s environmentally related? How and when are doctors and researchers able to make links between industrial operations and health problems in a community? Chris Chang-Yen Phillips finds out.

Links: The Lancet, Edmonton Journal

What’s Happening

Bikeology Festival – June, Edmonton

June is Bike month in many communities across north america. In Edmonton, the annual Bikeology festival kicks off with events in the heart of the city, which allows for easy access, uses City park space and emboldens passers-by to join in.  With events like Bikey breakfasts, mocktails on the bridge, bike talks, Critical Lass and Kidical Mass, bike writers nights and more, big and small are invited to celebrate all things bicycle.

With events like Bikey breakfasts, mocktails on the bridge, bike talks, Critical Lass and Kidical Mass, bike writers nights and more, big and small are invited to celebrate all things bicycle. Find out more information here.

Rivers to Ocean Week - June 8 to June 14

This country and water go hand in hand. We are the stewards of one-fifth of the world’s fresh water and can proudly claim about two million lakes, not to mention enough rivers, marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, sloughs and ponds to make a duck quack! With three mighty oceans offering us more than 200,000 kilometres of coastline — the longest coastline in the world — Canada is truly a watery wonderland.

From wetlands, ground water and springs to creeks, streams, lakes, rivers and oceans, our water is connected through watersheds. The Canadian Wildlife Federation or CWF wants you to celebrate Rivers to Oceans Week, with them, from June 8 to 14. Rivers to Oceans Week recognizes this connectedness and reminds us that taking care of our water is a shared responsibility.Are you a foodie, a clean freak, an animal lover, kiddo, an artist or a beauty buff? You can take one of the many Water Challenges that CWF has designed to help recognize our connectedness and our shared responsibility for water. Check out the CWF’s website for more information.

Medicinal Plants Workshop - Arboretum Centre, Guelph, Ontario, June 17 from 6-8 PM

In Herbal Medicine, plants from the forest, garden and meadow are valuable in the treatment a variety of health conditions. Join Guelph naturopathic doctor, Elizabeth Cherevaty ND for this guided “herb walk” through the Gosling Wildlife Gardens, woods and meadows of the Arboretum as she highlights uses and habitats of important medicinal plants including motherwort, mayapple, blue cohosh, bloodroot, red raspberry, Joe Pye weed, hawthorn and black walnut. Each participant will receive a colour booklet detailing the plants and their uses. The tour starts outside and then will be followed by an introduction to Herbal Medicine and ways to use the plants at home. Please note this course is not intended to provide instruction in harvesting or preparation of medicinal plants. The fee is $35.00 and registration and payment is required by June 10.

Visit the website or contact Ranee Pararajasingham at or 519-824-4210 exit 52358 for more information.