Space still available for ManOMin conference

FORT FRANCES—There is still room—and time—to register for the fifth-annual ManOMin watershed conference coming up April 10-12 at the Holiday Inn in International Falls, Mn.
The theme is “Seeing with Both Eyes: Balancing Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge and Contemporary Science.”
Despite registrations being quite low at this point, conference chair Adam Scott said organizers are hoping to draw about 100 participants from across the region.
“We have faith that what we’re offering is a great value for the price,” he remarked.
The conference, which costs $125 a person or $100 for students, focuses on the environmental sustainability of the Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota basins.
Scott indicated while they will accept registrations on site, they highly encourage pre-registration so they have a general idea of how many people to expect.
Those interested also can register beforehand and then pay on site if they prefer.
“We want to bring together the different stakeholders who have an interest in protecting the health of the watershed—scientists, resource managers, and also the general public,” Scott noted.
“Anyone who is concerned about environmental issues should come,” he stressed, adding it’s sure to be a very informative few days.
Scott said participants can pick and choose to attend presentations that interest them because it is not cost prohibitive.
“Even if people get to four or five talks, it’s worth it . . . and the conference cost is relatively low.”
He added those who attend the conference will learn about what’s going on regarding environmental issues in the area.
Scott called the conference one that’s educational, as well as for networking and information-sharing. “We’d really like to see more of the general public coming out,” he remarked.
Scott said they also are hoping to get students from the local high schools and colleges, on both sides of the border, to participate.
He noted if teachers would like to bring their class to the conference to listen to a couple of speakers, there would be no charge. But they should contact Scott first to let him know.
And although one primary speaker, Winona LaDuke, no longer is able to attend the conference, Scott stressed they are very excited about keynote speaker Albert Marshall, a respected elder of the Eskasoni First Nation.
Marshall is noted as one of the most articulate witnesses of his culture’s scientific and philosophic perspective.
He will provide insights into the practice of science, the place of humans in the environment, and the possibilities of collective understanding and collaborative action in his talk called “Two-Eyed Seeing and Some Companion Thoughts.”
“He coined the phrase we’re using for our theme,” noted Scott. “We felt, based on the work that’s being done in the area and having to find that balance for a lot of resource work, that it would be wonderful.”
The conference begins April 10 with a “meet and greet” social hour starting at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn.
The format of the conference for the next two days will be a bit different than in past years. For the previous four conferences, they had scheduled four speakers back-to-back, followed by a discussion with a moderator.
But Scott noted they ran into some issues with that, so instead there will be about a half-hour allowed for each presentation, with a question period of 10 minutes afterward.
Breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks are included with the registration free.
However, presentations will continue through lunch, which will consist of pasta one day and chicken the other. That way, more people are able to present.
In addition, there will be poster displays by local groups and an art auction presented by the Northland Art Society.
“We are a cultural-type conference, so we provide the space and local artists put up their work,” Scott explained. “It’s a silent auction style event, with a portion of the proceeds going back to the conference.
“It was a success last time, so we’re doing it again this year.”
Scott also said they’ve tried to focus on a local group of presenters this year so that it relates more.
“People may take more of an interest in it and we’re hoping it will boost the registration,” he remarked, though noting there are speakers from across the region from both sides of the border.
Some of the presentations include:
•Ilka Milne (Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists)—“A Sense of Place: Growing the citizen in ‘citizen science’”;
•Chris Holbeck (Voyageurs National Park)—“How Regulation Leads to Preservation”;
•Joe Hunter (Sustainable Sturgeon Culture)—“The Business of Sustainability”;
•Chad Yost and Richard Rothaus (St. Cloud State University)—“Wild Rice Restoration in Lake Ogechie, Minnesota/Harmonizing Traditional and Palaeoenvironmental Approaches”;
•Peter Lee (Lakehead University)—“Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge as a Mechanism for Advancements in the Science and Technology of Wild Rice”;
•Ingrid Schneider (University of Minnesota Dept. of Forest Resources and Tourism Centre)—“Seeing beyond the trees: Recognizing & sustaining forest-based tourism and recreation”;
•Ed Eaton & Kari Layman (International Joint Commission)—“Overseeing Transboundary Watersheds: The Work of the International Joint Commission and Its Boards”;
•Paul Radomski (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)—“Minnesota’s Alternative Shoreland Standards and the Science Behind Them”; and
•Robert Shimek (Indigenous Environmental Network)—“Cultural Impacts of Mercury Contamination in Indigenous Peoples living in the Western Great Lakes Region of North America.”
For more information, to register, or to view the agenda and speakers of the ManOMin watershed conference, visit www.manominconference.ca or call Scott at 482-2479.

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