Nova Scotia

Workshops aim to get more diverse groups interested in the natural world

The HRM Naturalist Project is hosting workshops to get more Black, Indigenous, people of colour and new Canadians engaged with nature.

'We noticed that there's not a lot of diversity within the natural history network here,' says organizer

Ankit Bajaj looks at tiny organisms. (Victoria Welland/CBC)

Nature Nova Scotia is putting on a series of workshops to engage more Black and Indigenous people, people of colour, and new Canadians with the natural world. 

The HRM Naturalist Project is hosting workshops throughout the summer and fall in locations across the municipality. 

"We noticed that there's not a lot of diversity within the natural history network here, and we were hoping to change that with this project," said Unity Cooper, one of the organizers.

Cooper grew up in a refugee camp in Ghana, and her family had a strong relationship with land around them. She came to Halifax 12 years ago and spends her time sharing her love of nature with diverse communities.

Unity Cooper grew up in a refugee camp in Ghana. (Victoria Welland/CBC)

"Nature is for everyone and it's important that everyone gets to benefit from it and experience it," Cooper said.

The first workshop Ankit Bajaj attended was on wetlands. A recent graduate of Dalhousie University, he moved to Halifax from India.

"I think it's a great initiative by nature in Nova Scotia for just hosting this event where we could connect with the nature, we could join the groups, meet new people, make new friends, but at the same time explore the nature and the beauty of Nova Scotia and Halifax at large." said Bajaj.

Zong Hua Ai studies ethnobiology at Dalhousie. (Victoria Welland/CBC)

He and other participants in the wetlands workshop toured Belchers Marsh in Halifax. They learned about native plants, tiny organisms and the importance of wetlands to the ecosystem.

Zong Hua Ai, who studies ethnobiology at Dalhousie, joined the workshops because she loves to learn about the environment around her. 

Ai said in China, where she is from, people have a concept of "eating off the land."

"That is the way that we bond with the land, the nature, the space," Ai said.

"Although we are thousands of miles from home, 12 hours time zone from my home, the fact that I can eat from this land, native plants that grow on this land, that makes me feel at home here."

The workshops continue until October.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Welland is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. You can reach her at victoria.welland@cbc.ca

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