CMN Knowledge Sharing Summit 2022: Attending as Emerging Park Leaders

by Briana Hamilton & Mahnoor Hussain

Briana Hamilton is CPCIL’s Communications Coordinator; producing content and compiling resources on themes such as inclusion, ecosocial justice, partnerships, conservation, organizational sustainability, climate change and biodiversity, connection to nature, conservation financing, and ecotourism, to support effective and equitable leadership and inclusion in parks and protected areas across Canada.

Mahnoor Hussain supports the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program (YESS) at Parks Canada: researching and designing a variety of pathways for youth employment opportunities within Parks Canada and with other government departments (OGDs) that deliver the YESS program. She also supports the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) Not-for-Profit policy suite update which involves reviewing and updating of CPC policy documents to align with the governance model MOU and ByLaws. 

In June 2022, the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) hosted their second annual Knowledge Sharing Summit. For those who may not know, CMN is Canada’s first formal research organization that is based on the holistic practice of braiding Indigenous and Western ways of knowing. CMN focuses their research on mountainous regions and systems in Canada as these regions impact freshwater ecosystems, natural habitats and natural resources (and more!) from coast to coast to coast. 

We were invited to virtually attend this summit. Aside from being honoured – and very excited – to listen and learn, I (Briana) was born and raised very close to the Rockies – so was extra eager to gain new insights and perspectives sourcing from the place I call home. I (Mahnoor), on the other hand, live in Eastern Canada but was eager to learn about different indigenous knowledge systems on topics such as the Yukon salmon revitalization, land rights, and stewardship in the rockies and how it affects life thousands of miles away.

What We Learned

Oh boy. We could write a novel about all of the things we learned from attending this summit. We come from a combined educational background in Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership and Applied Sciences in Public Health and Safety. We have both worked in tourism, education and conservation sectors within Parks, but we still have more to learn (and always will!). We were spoiled to attend 2 full days loaded with various presentations surrounding western science, indigenous knowledge and values, policies and research projects. We can’t dive into each topic, but here are a couple of published projects you may be interested in learning about:

Mountain Legacy Project 

The Shútagot’ine Cultural Landscape Project

Overall, it was empowering and uplifting to see all the incredible work that’s happening across the country. 

Our New Perspective: Be a Thread in the Braid

One thing is certain: The problems that exist within Parks and Protected Areas, such as the climate crisis, are very complex. We often find ourselves overwhelmed with the swarms of information about these issues. We’re sure, however, that the sense of feeling overwhelmed is felt amongst all. 

To top-off this information overload, Parks and Protected Areas face the complex history and conflicting values and practices between indigenous and colonial ways of life. We recognize the negatives and wrongdoings of colonialism, but we also recognize the merit of western science… yet we also recognize the legitimacy and authenticity of traditional knowledge. So where to start? What’s the proper way to approach things? How can these 2 knowledge bases work together?

Joe Dragon, Chair of CMN, mentioned something in the Summit that stuck with us: Indigenous and Western Knowledge is not to be blended – it is to be braided. In other words, as we understand it, these knowledge bases aren’t intended to overtake or get lost in each other, but are to work together to support each other and create a stronger knowledge base system. This is a powerful statement that we will certainly carry with us throughout our lives and careers. 

Braids are made by interlacing multiple strands together, with each strand being composed of several smaller strands of material. As individuals, we may not be able to offer a full or complete strand (in this case a knowledge base) to the braid, but we can certainly contribute a smaller strand of material – our knowledge – to collectively build  strong strands with our communities. With these strands, one heck of a braid – and one heck of a better knowledge base system – can be built and supported together. 

This will truly come handy as we are individuals who feel a little in over our heads working in the Parks and Conservation sector at times – the problems are immensely huge and we inevitably let too much of that weight sit on our shoulders. But this statement has shed some refreshing light on this. We don’t need to carry all that weight and try to solve the problems on our own – we just need to contribute our thread(s) of knowledge. 

The Power of Youth: a Notable Point of Discussion

A recurring point of discussion throughout the summit was that youth are the future – and that there is a need to connect with and amplify youth to better tackle the complex problems we face. This notion is not the first time we have heard this – CPCIL, for one, is certainly an active supporter of this. Youth naturally have a special connection with nature – they provide new and unbiased perspectives that are less influenced by policy and social structure. They also share something in common with Parks and Protected Areas experts: passion. The challenge is, they don’t have the means or power to formalize social or corporate change. In the Parks and Protected Areas world, youth are involved, such as through ambassador programs and entry level positions, but how can Parks be better at welcoming and amplifying youth to improve Parks and Protected Areas? 

 

In all honesty, this isn’t a simple answer. But we must say, being young professionals ourselves, having the opportunity to listen and participate in higher-level activities and discussions, such as attending this CMN Summit, provided us with new knowledge, and fresh motivation to make a difference going forward in our careers.

Thank you again to the Canadian Mountain Network, as well Don, Senior Fellow of CPCIL, for inviting and welcoming us to join CMN’s 2022 Knowledge Sharing Summit. You have provided more confidence and curiosity in emerging Parks and Protected Areas leaders.

Course Review – Manager and Leader: a formula for success!

by Briana Hamilton

Briana Hamilton is CPCIL’s Communications Coordinator; producing content and compiling resources on themes such as inclusion, ecosocial justice, partnerships, conservation, organizational sustainability, climate change and biodiversity, connection to nature, conservation financing, and ecotourism, to support effective and equitable leadership and inclusion in parks and protected areas across Canada.

During the winter of 2021, I had the opportunity to participate in the online Professional Development Course: “Manager and Leader: a formula for success!” . This course is offered online through Moncton University and was developed in partnership with CPCIL. As mentioned on the course website, the goals of this course include: 

  • Learning more about yourself and your emotional intelligence;
  • Distinguishing a managerial role from a leadership role;
  • Becoming familiar with leadership in all its aspects;
  • Factoring in other essential leadership skills, like communication, teamwork and conflict management.

Whether you are new to the practice of management and leadership–or if you have years of experience under your belt–this course is a great introduction or refresher on how to be an effective leader in the workplace.

What I Enjoyed About the Course

Applying Theory to Real Life Scenarios 

Throughout this course, participants are challenged to identify their natural leadership style, and to analyze the pros and cons – or strengths and weaknesses – of their leadership style. This process involved more than simply reading about leadership and management theories: Participants apply and reflect upon their leadership style through activities and discussions surrounding real life scenarios and challenges that happen in the workplace.

To me, this may have been the most enjoyable part of the course, and I think it was equally the most effective part of the course as it showed how each leadership style can effectively support a team.

Applying a New Lens to Workplace Communication & Conflict

This course provided a new lens on workplace conflict and communication. How so? First of all, participants were invited to recognize and understand challenges associated with our leadership style to make us aware of certain managerial and leadership behaviours that could be perceived negatively. This helps a manager to: 

  1. Identify the most effective way they can communicate and lead their team and informing potential changes to our practices and approaches
  2. Create a reflective and open-communication workspace

Aside from diving into our own leadership style, participants gained a better understanding to the other styles they may find in their superiors and colleagues. By being able to identify leadership and communication styles of their team members, a manager can: 

  1. Best prepare and communicate challenges, tasks and appreciation of work
  2. Better understand the behaviours of their team members
  3. Take a step in someone else’s shoes when conflict arises and have a better understanding of how this individual may respond or feel 

Offering a Self-Paced Approach

I really enjoyed the pace of the course. Aside from the handful of pre-determined course session dates, I was able to complete tasks and assignments at my own pace. This allowed me to maintain a positive workload balance; I felt involved and active in the program, but never felt overwhelmed.

What I Think Park Leaders Could Benefit From the Course:

This is a professional development course that increases confidence in your inner leader. With park leaders facing so many complex issues, increased self-awareness helps a manager better support their team (and themselves!) through these challenges. 

Having more knowledge and awareness of leadership could also greatly help managers influence their team to be motivated and active followers – and leaders – in the workplace. Imagine the effectiveness of having a whole team of leaders versus one sole individual. 

This course may be designed for current (and aspiring) managers, but I think it holds value for any individual working within a team – especially within Parks, Protected and Conserved Areas. The reality is, every role, even those not designated as managerial roles, benefits when the individual is an effective leader. Being a leader means being a strong and supportive team member – which helps a team manage and conquer their work – and goals – together. In my eyes, this holds the true formula for success. 

Next Course Session:

Manager and Leader: a formula for success!

Oct 6 - Dec 1, 2022

Find out more about this course, including how to register here

CPC member agencies can receive a discount by entering the promo code CPCIL2022

Ecotourism & Outdoor Leadership Student Film Night

The Annual ETOL Film Night presents an evening of outdoor exploration through visual media.

ETOL Film Night 2021 is hosted by fourth year students within the Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership program at Mount Royal University and presents films and photos from all outdoor activities and locations. All proceeds from this night will go towards the Allan Derbyshire Student Fund, which will assist students in covering the costs of their extracurricular activities and pursuits in the ETOL program.

Doors open for silent auction, merchandise sales, and mingling at 6:00pm. ETOL Film Night will run from 7:00pm to 10:00pm MST. 

Unable to attend in person? No problem! The event is also being streamed online for you to enjoy from the comfort of your home. The online stream will be open for the entire event from 7:00pm-10:00pm MST

Important: in-person attendees will be required to show proof of double vaccination and personal ID prior to entering the venue. All ticket holders, including in-person attendees, will receive a livestream link in case of illness/COVID symptoms. Livestream tickets will not receive access to the venue. No refunds will be issued for this event.

Inclusion and Equity Leader Profile: Sarah Boyle

Sarah Boyle (she/her) is a project manager for the Protected Areas Establishment Branch of Parks Canada, which deals with establishing terrestrial and marine conservation areas. Boyle is currently working on the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan – Similkameen region of British Columbia, the unceded traditional territory of the Syilx Nation. She has been working in this position for the past two and a half years.

I reached Sarah at her home in Revelstoke, British Columbia to talk about her experience living and working in parks.

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Inclusion and Equity Leader Profile: Rike Moon

Rike Moon (she/her) works for BC Parks as the Community Engagement Specialist on the Community Engagement and Education section at Provincial Services Branch in Victoria, BC. She has been in this role since May 2020. Rike is a native of Germany and identifies as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community. She spoke to me about her experience in parks and protected areas from her home in Victoria, BC.

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Inclusion and Equity Leader Profile: Marilynn Hay

Marilynn Hay (she/her) is a municipal advisor with the Province of Nova Scotia and has been in this role since November 2019. She initially took a leave of absence from her role as a Municipal Advisor with the Kananaskis Improvement District (KID), Alberta Environment and Parks but has since left that position. With the KID, Marilynn was employed as a Municipal Advisor and spent a year acting in a dual role of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and Manager of Emergency Services within the Kananaskis Region. She identifies as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community. I reached Marilynn at her home office in Halifax, Nova Scotia to discuss her experience as an LGBTQ2S+ woman working in conservation.

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Inclusion and Equity Leader Profile: Daniella Rubeling

Daniella Rubeling (she/her) is the visitor experience manager for the Parks Canada Banff Field Unit. In this role, Rubeling oversees visitor experience across most of Banff National Park. She started in this role eight months ago, one day prior to the transition to working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daniella has recently returned to her office in the Banff townsite, which is where I reached her.

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Inclusion and Equity Leader Profile: Dawn Carr

Dawn Carr (she/her) was the executive director of the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) and the principal consultant of her own consulting agency, CarrPark. She was the executive director of the CPC from 2012 to 2021. Since this interview, Dawn Carr has accepted a new role with the Nature Conservancy of Canada with she started in September, 2021. I reached her at her home in Peterborough, ON to talk about her experience as a woman working in parks. 

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