EcoFriendly Sask strives to inform, encourage, and support Saskatchewan environmental initiatives. As a small, personal undertaking, we provide an online publication as well as grants to support local environmental projects.
Congratulations to the nominees and award winners of the 2019 NatureCity Awards. The awards recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses who advocate for the conservation and restoration of natural areas in and around Saskatoon and promote a relationship of belonging, connection, and care between local residents and the Nature that surrounds us.
The awards were presented on May 21, 2019, by Sheri Benson, MP, and Joseph Naytowhow. Listed below are the award winners and additional nominees.
Wildernook Fresh Air Learning was founded by Jana Miller, an outdoor educator and facilitator, in 2016. It offers nature learning to groups of people who might not otherwise have access to outdoor education. This includes grandparents in partnership with their grandchildren, young women who want to challenge themselves outdoors, and 3-5 year olds. A project this coming summer will focus on sustainability, assisting youth to develop environmental leadership skills through practical hands-on experiences. Wildernook provides an opportunity for participants to renew their connection with the natural world and branch out in new directions as well as fostering resiliency, confidence, creativity, and independence. Wildernook works closely with other organizations, including SaskOutdoors and Ducks Unlimited. Subsidized spots in some of the programs enhance accessibility for people who identify as Indigenous, Newcomers to Canada, or low-income.
Saskatoon Nature Society was founded in 1955 to promote a deeper knowledge and appreciation of nature. They offer a wide range of birding, botany, and butterfly field trips, speakers, and courses that are open to the public, in most cases free of charge. The Society is an open and accepting community of people who care about nature in Saskatoon and want to preserve it. They are stewards of Saskatoon Natural Grasslands and strong and active advocates for nature at public hearings, committees, and other events. They support youth involvement in nature through Saskatoon Young Naturalists and the Kids in Nature program, which supports NatureCity Festival’s education program. They have published A Guide to Nature Viewing Sites In and Around Saskatoon and provided copies to schools free of charge. The book shows how to access sites by vehicle, bus, bike, or trails, and includes GPS coordinates. There is information about accessibility for those with mobility challenges.
Additional Nominees: Meewasin Valley Authority
Melanie Elliott is a strong advocate for the enjoyment, conservation, and protection of nature through outdoor education programs and wildlife protection and rehabilitation. She is passionate about getting kids outdoors so they know nature is safe and ran the Ecology Camps for Kids program through the Extension division at the University of Saskatchewan for many years. She took children for grassland walks, inviting them to lie down and “bond to the prairies.” Melanie was a founding member of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan. She saves bats, overwinters bats, and helps people love them by sharing her knowledge, introducing her educational bats, and showing people how to build bat boxes. Melanie has mentored many people who have gone on to deliver ecological programming to children in the city and has demonstrated a lifetime of dedication to nature education for all.
Additional Nominees: Nancy Barr, Elizabeth Bekolay, Valerie Martz, Andrew Whiting
2017 Award Winners Photo Credits Nominees and award winners – Sheri Benson, MP Melanie Elliott – personal photograph Jana Miller – Shannon Dyck, Green Edge Studio
International Trails Day, June 1 (Saskatoon) Meewasin Valley Authority is celebrating International Trails Day on June 1 with activities from 1-4 pm at Friendship Park.
Looking Ahead Detour, July 22-25 (Saskatoon) Youth ages 13-14 are invited to flex their creative problem-solving muscles on an urban sustainable design project from July 22-25 at Detour: Spark Ideas, Shift Gears, Activate Change. ForestART, Aug. 6-9 (Ness Creek) Unleash your creativity in Ness Creek’s boreal forest setting by participating in ForestART, Aug. 6-9. Workshops include willow basketry, painting, silversmithing, blacksmithing, and printmaking.
Saskatoon’s NatureCity Festival returns from May 21-26 with over 60 events. It’s an opportunity to get to know your wild neighbours, try your hand at citizen science, play, and create. Here are just a few activities that caught our attention. For full details, check out Wild About Saskatoon’s website.
Urban Wild Factoria Riverbank Warbler Walk – 7-8:30 pm, May 21 Look and listen for warblers and other songbirds with members of the Saskatoon Nature Society.
Wild Spring Walk – 6:30-8 pm, May 23 Explore the ecosystem and habitat of George Genereux Urban Regional Park in Saskatoon’s West Swale.
Wetland Field Trip – 9 am-11:30 am, May 23 Join a class of students for a half-day hike at the Northeast Swale.
Spring Wildflower Walk – 9-11:30 am, May 26 Spot early-season wildflowers at Beaver Creek Conservation Area.
I Spy with my Wild Eye iSpy with iNaturalist – 7-8:30 pm, May 23 Explore new and old techniques you can use to become a citizen scientist.
Putting Citizen Science into Practice – 10 am-12 pm, May 25 Visit the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Dundurn property and document your observations.
Art Naturally Creative Collaboration with the Urban Beaver – May 21-26 Join Laura Hale, NatureCity Festival’s artist-in-residence, in creating a site-specific art installation using beaver chewed wood chips, beaver sticks, willow, and other natural materials to outline the path made by the beaver in travelling to and from the river. 1-5 pm, May 21-25 & 1-3 pm, May 26 – Gabriel Dumont Park 4-5 pm, May 26 – Prairie Lily Riverboat Cruise
Photographic Scavenger Hunt – 2-3:30 pm, May 25 Explore nature and leave it wild by taking photographs not samples on a walk along the riverbank.
Art en Plein Air – 1-4 pm, May 26 Using Remai Modern’s art supplies, head outside, and create your own artwork.
Play and Learn Adventure Smart – May 21, 23, 25 & 26 Saskatoon Search and Rescue will share safe practices for outdoor activities and preventative measures for camping and hiking on 4 different occasions. They’ll be offering Hug a Tree and Survive, a program that helps lost children survive in the woods, from 7-8 pm, May 21, at the YMCA.
Storytime – May 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 Enjoy stories inspired by the Festival during Baby Storytime, Family Storytime, and Sleepytime Stories at various branches of the Saskatoon Public Library on different days throughout the week.
Early Learning Goes Wild – 1-4 pm, May 25 Join Preston Early Learning for a nature walk, scavenger hunt, collage activity, and face painting.
Eat, Drink, and be Merry NatureCity Awards Celebration – 7-8 pm, May 21 Celebrate the nominees and award winners – individuals, organizations, and businesses – for their contributions to conservation and respect of nature in and around Saskatoon.
The Path to Wild Food – 1-2:30 pm, May 24 Look for edible wild plants, from licorice to sarsaparilla, with Sandra Walker, an ethnobotanist.
NatureCity Beer Release – 8 pm, May 24 Enjoy a pint of beer brewed specially for this year’s Festival at 9 Mile Legacy Brewing and celebrate with Saskatoon’s own Parab Poet.
EcoFriendly Sask is an ongoing sponsor of Wild About Saskatoon's NatureCity Festival.
Upcoming Events School Climate Strike, May 17 (Regina) Regina School climate strikes are ongoing on Fridays from 10-11 am at the Legislative Buildings.
Explorer Camp, May 17 (Saskatoon) Kids ages 6-10 are invited to discover the fauna and flora of the river valley on a guided bike tour with Wild Sky Adventure Learning from 9 am-5 pm, May 17.
Spring Bird Survey, May 18 (Fort Qu’Appelle) The Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society is holding a spring bird survey on May 18. Contact Alan at 306-432-5262 or 331-9181 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to participate.
SOS Elms Coalition AGM, May 19 (Saskatoon) SOS Elms Coalition is holding its annual general meeting (with a surprise guest speaker) at 2 pm, May 19.
Migratory Bats, May 20 (Regina) Erin Swerdfeger will report on her work with migratory bats from 7:30-9:30 pm, at the May 20 annual general meeting of Nature Regina.
Blue Gold, May 20 (Saskatoon) Pint of Science is all about water on the prairies from 7-9 pm, May 20, in Saskatoon.
Traditional Plant Walk, June 16 (Saskatoon or Regina) The Saskatchewan Archaeological Society is hosting a traditional plant walk led by Sandra Walker from 10:30 am-12 pm, June 16, in the Regina or Saskatoon area. Pre-registration is required.
Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips Saskatoon Young Naturalists May 29 – July 3 – Bluebird Trail Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment. Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips May 20, 1:30-4:30 pm – Hyde Park Birding May 28, 7-8 pm – Lakewood Pop-up Naturalist Event Everyone is welcome. Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.
Fishing spiders take good care of their young. They stand guard over the eggs and, once the eggs hatch, the babies climb up onto Mum’s back and stay there until they’re ready to go out on their own. Happy Mother’s Day!
Bike to Work Day YXE, May 15 (Saskatoon) May 15 is Bike to Work Day in Saskatoon.
Looking Ahead Chaplin Lake Shorebird Festival, May 31-June 1 (Chaplin) Take a tour of the Chaplin Nature Centre during their Shorebird Festival, May 31 to June 1.
Generating Momentum, June 2/Aug 17/Aug 18 (Regina/Saskatoon/Prince Albert) In honour of its 10th anniversary, the Regina Public Interest Research Group is hosting 3 one-day activist leadership training camps for 18-35 year olds this summer: June 2 – Regina August 17 – Saskatoon August 18 – Prince Albert
Wildlife Champion Thank you Jan Shadick for speaking up for jackrabbits who lighten our days and pigeons who grace our skies. As Jan says, “A healthy wildlife population is an indicator of a healthy city.”
Jane’s Walks is an annual festival of citizen-led walks encouraging people to explore and learn about their neighbourhoods. They’re designed to promote the community-based approach to urban planning initiated by Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walks began in Toronto in 2006 and have now spread to 225 cities around the world.
A number of the 2019 walks explore Regina and Saskatoon’s natural areas and sustainability.
Regina May 3, 7-8:30 pm – Rebuilding Riverside Dyke May 4, 10-11:30 am – History and Nature of Wascana Lake May 5, 11am-12:30 pm – From the Science Centre to Far Away Place
Saskatoon May 4, 10 am – Cohousing using Sustainable Building Practices May 4, 2 pm – Saskatoon’s Man of Trees May 4, 2 pm – Forestry Farm Walking Tour May 4, 7 pm – Spring Evening Hike at Northeast Swale May 5, 2 pm – Moose Jaw-Saskatoon Trail: A Remnant of Native Prairie May 5, 1:30 pm – 17th Street Walking Path: From Rail Line to Multi-purpose Trail May 5, 2 pm – Woodlands Walk: St. Barbe-Baker Afforestation Area May 5, 3:30 pm – Wild Spring Walk: Flora & Fauna of George Genereux Urban Regional Park
Smarter Science, Better Buildings, May 6-24 (North Battleford) Grade 7 students and the general public are invited to view the Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit at North Battleford Western Development Museum from May 6 to 24.
World Migratory Bird Day, May 11 (Last Mountain) Celebrate the return of migratory birds with family-friendly activities organized by Nature Saskatchewan from 8 am-4 pm, May 11, at Last Mountain Regional Park.
SaskOutdoors Birthday Party, May 11 (Saskatoon) SaskOutdoors is hosting a 50th birthday party from 6:30-10:30 pm, May 11.
Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips Saskatoon Young Naturalists May 4 – Pike Lake field trip Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.
Golden Eagles May 2, 8 am – Porter Lake, water and marsh birds May 9, 8 am – Spring shorebirds at Perdue Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.
Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips May 4, 9 am-2 pm – Waterfowl viewing trip to Porter Lake May 5/12/19/26, 7-9:30 am – MVA trail bird walk (register in advance) May 11, 9 am-3 pm – Waterfowl viewing trip to Brightwater Marsh and Blackstrap Lake Everyone is welcome. Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.
Briarpatch magazine devoted its most recent issue to the concept of a just transition. Articles include: Both residents of coal-producing communities and climate justice activists in Saskatchewan are fearful for the future and feel ignored by politicians and government representatives.