FORT FRANCES—Although the early-bird deadline to register for the fifth-annual ManOMin watershed conference expires today (Feb. 28), registrations still are being accepted.
The conference, which focuses on the environmental sustainability of the Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota basins, is scheduled to run April 11-12 at the Holiday Inn over in International Falls.
The cost to register is $125 while the student fee is $100.
“It grew out of the opportunity 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,” conference chair Adam Scott explained.
“There’s a lot of great stuff going on in the area—on both sides of the border—and we wanted to provide on opportunity to bring all those folks together,” he added.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
“We always tend to get the government agency personnel on both sides and the non-profit groups who are working in the environment area, but I’d like to see more of the general public out,” Scott remarked.
“Those who have an interest in, perhaps not all of the issues, but some,” he noted.
“It adds a nice dynamic if there are people that aren’t towing a line of any kind through employment. If they could come and voice their opinions just as the general public.”
Scott said they also are hoping to see more students participate in this year’s conference, with its theme being, “Seeing with Both Eyes: Balancing Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge and Contemporary Science.”
Scott noted they’d particularly like to get the local high schools on both sides of the border involved, such as Fort Frances High School, Falls High School, and Littlefork Big-Falls High School.
They’ve also discussed approaching Rainy River High School and Lake of the Woods Secondary School in Baudette.
“It’s a bit of a piece to come, but through a grant we received last year from the Moffat Fund, that allowed us to waive the registration fee for some students to come,” Scott said.
As well, students from Rainy River Community College in the Falls and Confederation College here are urged to attend.
Scott indicated they are very excited about all 16 confirmed speakers for the conference, but two are particularly noteworthy—keynote speaker Albert Marshall and Winona LaDuke.
Marshall, a respected elder of the Eskasoni First Nation, 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.
“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.
“We’re really excited about having him do the keynote address,” he enthused.
Scott added he is “ecstatic” about having LaDuke, a world renowned Native American activist, on the agenda.
Named Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine in 1997 and the recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1998, LaDuke is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, the Indigenous Women’s Network, and Honour the Earth.
The format for the two days of the conference will see about a half-hour for each presentation, with a question period of 10 minutes to follow.
Breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks are included with the registration free.
A traditional walleye dinner and pow-wow will be held at Confederation College on the Wednesday evening. Tickets will be on sale at the conference.
In addition, there will be poster displays by local groups and an art auction.
“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 noted past conferences have seen about 75-80 participants, but that the goal is always to increase that.
“We really tried to focus on a local group of presenters so that it relates a little more,” he remarked. “People may take more of an interest in it and we’re hoping it will boost the registration.”
He’s also hoping having speakers like Marshall and LaDuke will pique the interest. “Hopefully people will come check it out,” Scott said.
For more information, to register, or to view the agenda and speakers of the ManOMin watershed conference, visit www.manominconference.ca