(November 9, 2023) - As Laurentian University’s campus was artfully transformed by autumn, a trail on campus was also transformed in an effort to preserve Anishinaabemowin and plant knowledge. The Laurentian Environmental Sustainability Committee has dedicated efforts to enhance a walking trail behind the Vale Living with Lakes Centre.
With funding from the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, the team developed over 25 plant identification signs displaying the Anishinaabemowin names of native plants found along the Biodiversity Reclamation Trail. Elder Sandra Corbiere and youth member Jade Corbiere of Wahnapitae First Nation worked in collaboration with the Environmental Sustainability Committee to provide the Anishinaabemowin plant names and record the proper pronunciation of each for the QR codes on signage along the trail.
The Laurentian Environmental Sustainability Committee, housed at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre, is a student-led group spearheading the university’s efforts towards fulfilling the Nature Positive Pledge. By making the Nature Positive Pledge, Laurentian is committed to being part of an important journey towards a liveable, biodiverse planet. The goal of the Nature Positive Universities, a global joint initiative of the UN Environmental Programme and the University of Oxford, is to restore nature at higher education institutions by reducing their environmental footprint.
The project focused on local Indigenous community consultation and learning in preparation for the event. Visitors have a space to learn some Anishinaabe language and plant names in an interactive way on campus, highlighting the importance of Indigenous language preservation.
An event was hosted on October 26th, 2023 for community members to celebrate and explore the Biodiversity Reclamation Trail. Elder Linda Toulouse (Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation) led and guided the community trail walk. Dominic Beaudry, Associate Vice-President of Academic and Indigenous Programs at Laurentian, spoke at the event about the importance of Anishinaabemowin language preservation.
“Over the years to come, we hope this space will become a well-used resource for learning and deepening connections with nature. Our goal is for the trail to serve as a place of education where people can come together to learn, reflect, and engage with the land,” said Anastacia Chartrand, chair of the Laurentian Environmental Sustainability Committee.
After all her hard work and dedication toward the Laurentian community, Anastacia graduated on October 28th, 2023 from the Masters of Science Communication program. She plans to remain active within the Environmental Sustainability Committee team throughout this year as Avery Morin and Benoit Lalande take the reins with new leadership roles.
“Community collaboration is an integral part of projects like these, so it was amazing to see people from so many communities and organizations come together for this event, ”said Taylor Nicholls, Laurentian’s Environmental Sustainability Committee Indigenous Relations Liaison, Masters of Biology candidate, and member of Wahnapitae First Nation.
The Environmental Sustainability Committee at Laurentian hopes to continue making positive contributions to further respect and connect to the land. Ongoing efforts from the committee include biodiversity assessments, creating a model forest, water quality assessments, developing a student community garden, and increasing student involvement.