Wild Experiences & What Graphs Cannot Tell

Terra Informa Photo May 29 Taiga

This week’s episode is a double feature of archives from the past year or so that discuss two very different kinds of knowledge. In our fist story, we meet a Northwest Territories hunting guide and in the second a University of Alberta research scientist. Listen this week to get both your land- and data-based learning fixes.

Download episode here.

Wild Experiences
Kody Pritchard has been a hunting guide through the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territory for seven years. He’s had a number of unique experiences, Many of which so dangerous, they’d send most people racing back to the comfort and safety of civilization. Here Ashely Kocsis speaks with Pritchard about some of his most memorable experiences of life and survival in the depths of one of the few remaining wilderness landscapes in Canada.
What Graphs Cannot Tell
Many scientists are uncomfortable speaking about what their work means without sticking to the bounds of their data. But Rebecca Lawton is both a natural scientist and a creative writer. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke to her in Edmonton, where she served as the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts at the University of Alberta.
Photo by: L.B. Brubaker

Whale Communication and Geoengineering


This week, from the archives, whale communication and genetic modification. The first story is from beloved Terra Informer Natalee Rawat, who is taking a break from the show since she is moving to Vancouver! We wish you the best, Natalee! The next one is on geoengineering, from the Zero 2014 conference in Edmonton.

Download episode here.

The Curious Case of the “Sea Canaries”

Beluga whales are sometimes called “sea canaries” or the “canaries of the sea” because of the various whistling, clucking and clicking sounds they make.

As a researcher, part of Dr. Valeria Vergara’s PhD thesis included recording belugas at the Vancouver Aquarium and deciphering their vocalizations. She found that beluga calves are similar to human babies in that they have to learn to make different calls. Dr. Vergara was able to identify and classify 28 distinct call types during her research, including a the “contact call” – the communication between a mother and her calf.

Terra Informa’s Natalee Rawat visited Dr. Vergara last November at the Vancouver Aquarium to talk about this curious marine mammal. The Vancouver Aquarium is currently highlighting Canada’s north in their feature, ‘Celebrate Arctic’. For more info visit, vanaqua.org.

Chris Turner on Geoengineering

A few years ago, the United Nations panel studying climate change decided they would tackle a controversial topic. Geoengineering is the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment. And many people want to talk about geoengineering our way out of the climate change crisis. Calgary-based author Chris Turner writes about technology and sustainability. His books showcase some of the exciting ways that communities around the world are already taking on climate change. When we ran into Chris at the Zero 2014 Conference in Edmonton, we had to ask him what he thought about geoengineering and if there were better ways to take on the climate crisis.

Learn more: LeapWorks, Chris Turner on Twitter

Download program log here.

Image credit to Tony Fox.

Return to Big Island Woodbend

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This week, we’re revisiting a field trip we took last year through Edmonton’s largest natural area—Big Island Woodbend. Our guides were the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society. Discover what it takes to join their mission: the politics, the passion for nature, and the ignoring of trespassing signs.

Download episode here.



Big Island Woodbend

What’s up in the deep South(west) of Edmonton? Just across the river from well-manicured Windermere, there lies a sprawling natural area—Big Island Woodbend. We met up with the group who has made it their mission to turn the area into a place where all Edmontonians can enjoy and experience nature.

Our guides are Michael Phair and Karen Tang of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society. On the trail, you’ll also hear from Danielle Dolgoy, Tasmia Nishat, Carson Fong, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Trevor Chow-Fraser.

Join us on a field trip through Edmonton’s largest natural area—Big Island Woodbend. Our guides are the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society. Discover what it takes to join their mission: the politics, the passion for nature, and the ignoring of trespassing signs.

Program Log- May 15 Big Island Woodbend 2016

Fleeing the Fort McMurray Wildfire


This past week, we’ve found ourselves pulled into the drama in Fort McMurray, just four hours north of our studios. The devastating wildfire has forced 80,000 evacuees to flee the city, and tens of thousands are now here in Edmonton.

Today, we’re bringing you stories collected by fellow volunteers at CJSR Radio in the days immediately after the evacuation. We’ll hear first-hand accounts of people who had to flee, and meet people who have opened up their hearts and wallets to help. And listen through for some analysis on the climate change context from a University of Alberta wildfire expert.

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Thank you to this week’s contributors from CJSR Radio, Marco Visconti, Skye Hyndman and Pat McIlveen. The show was produced and hosted by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Trevor Chow-Fraser.

If you have a story about how you’ve been impacted by the Fort McMurray fire, reach out to us on Twitter @terrainforma or email terra@cjsr.com.

Download Program Log Here

Ways of Knowing


From sub-atomic neutrino physics to traditional Indigineous lifestyle philosophy – there are many ways of knowing the universe. This week, Terra Informa reporters interview Isaac Twin, Josh Littlechild, Dr. Art MacDonald and Dr. Aksel Hallin, exploring ways of understanding nature uncommon to the average Joe.

Download episode here.

Caring for Our Homefires

How does Indigenous traditional living relate to sustainable living? Terra Informer Alex Wolf talks with Isaac Twin and Josh Littlechild, delving into the experience of traditional Indigenous living and the interconnection with ecological footprints.

Turns Out, Neutrinos Shapeshift

Break everything into its smallest constituents and you get atoms. Break it down even further and you get a cornucopia of neutrons, protons, electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and so on. By studying these particles, we develop a deeper understanding of the universe.

In 2015, a team of scientists working in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory won the Nobel prize for discovering that neutrinos shift between different states, challenging the standard model of elementary particle physics.

Tasmia Nishat has Nobel Laureate Dr. Art MacDonald and Canada Astroparticle Chair Dr. Aksel Hallin explain what this means.

Download program log here.

Credit to nobelprize.org for the image.

Palaeobotany and Permaculture


Plant lovers unite! This week we’ll be talking Permaculture (a social movement disguised as gardening) with Kaz Haykowsky and Marcin Makarewicz, two of the founders of the Edmonton business, Spruce Permaculture. Then, we’ll be going back in time to talk about ancient plant fossils with Dr. Eva Koppelhus from the University of Alberta.

Download episode here.


What is this permaculture? Gardening design principles, an international social movement, eco-philosophy, or all of the above? Permaculture can be hard to pin down and the term has grown almost as many interpretations as there are practitioners.

Coined in the 1970’s by two Australians – David Holmgren and Bill Mollison – Permaculture was initially a contraction of permanent agriculture and has also come to mean permanent culture. The dual meaning of the word is fitting, as any hope of a permanent culture depends on a permanent food supply!

Kaz Haykowsky and Marcin Makarewicz are two students soon to graduate from the University of Alberta who have just started a ‘Food Not Lawns’ business: Spruce Permaculture. Dylan Hall and Whitney Caine spoke with them about their personal interpretations of Permaculture.

If you are interested in Spruce Permaculture – Check out their website!


If you were to casually mention Paleobotany in a casual conversation, you’d probably get a “paleo-what-now??” 

Basically, it’s the study of plant fossils. You can also get a little more crazy and talk about palynology, the study of plant spore fossils.

Dr. Eva Koppelhus, a professor of paleobotany at the University of Alberta, thinks the subject is underrated and at least deserves some of the glory that dinosaurs receive.

Here Tasmia Nishat talks with Dr. Koppelhus about the finer points of plant fossils, and why they’re super cool.

Psst: Dr. Koppelhus’ lab is looking for volunteers. If you’re interested, you can email ebk@ualberta.ca for more information.

Program Log- April 24 Permaculture and Paleobotany

Credit to Tasmia Nishat for the photo. 

Ecology and Feminism Part 1

April 17 TI

Pieces from Diane Connor’s recent art exhibition, Entanglement, an exploration of feminist identity, gender roles and expectations.

Although Ecofeminism is not a well known environmental movement, Ecofeminism and Ecofeminist ideas are found in books, art, environmental activism, and government policy. But what is it? Is it relevant today? And how can we live out Ecofeminist principles in our everyday life?

We will be exploring these ideas in a two-part series. This week, Amanda Rooney talked to politician Linda Duncan and Wai Tarp talked to social activist Diane Connors to bring you  talk about how Feminism and Environmentalism are related.
Photo by Dianne Connor

Dandelions: Aesthetic Crime or Unexplored Potential?


This week’s episode includes a story on dandelions from guest contributors Jacques Gartner and Brendan Wyant and an ecobabble on weeds from Chris Chang-Yen Phillips.

Download episode here.

What if we could make use of something that people typically try to throw away? That was one of the questions we wanted to explore when Jacques Gartner and Brendan Wyant began their project on dandelions. Dandelions are a contentious issue; the topic comes up every spring as the little yellow petals begin to appear. People often resort to spraying herbicides on them purely for aesthetic reasons. Locally the city of Edmonton has typically regarded the dandelion as a weed and has resorted to spraying herbicides to eliminate them. Recently however the city of Edmonton has cut down drastically on its spraying practices resulting in numerous complaints.

Download Program Log here.

Photo by Greg Hume