Bison in the Mountains: Panel discussion of Banff National Park reintroduction program

 
 

Just in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary, Plains Bison are set to return to Banff National Park in 2017!

As part of International Mountain Day 2016 celebrations, the Canadian Mountain Network partnered with Bison Belong, an education and advocacy organization, to bring together experts and the public in discussion of Parks Canada’s plan and the broader meaning of bison for indigenous communities in the region. We were thrilled to have 150 people participate in this event at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at the University of Alberta.

Karsten Heuer, Bison Reintroduction Manager for Parks Canada, launched the event with an overview of the history and plans for the project. Sixteen members of Elk Island National Park’s nursery herd will initially be housed in a backcountry paddock in Banff, with subsequent expansions to their range over time. For further details of the plan, click here.

Marie-Eve Marchand of Bison Belong then moderated a panel discussion focussing on the cultural and ecological importance of bison and the project. (Complete list of participants listed below). 

Dr. Tasha Hubbard, filmmaker and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan, screened powerful footage from the spring 2016 reintroduction of buffalo to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana that explored the indigenous kinship relationship with the buffalo.

The event concluded by bringing the audience into the discussion with a Q&A session that touched on topics ranging from the ecological value of buffalo wallows to the different provincial classifications for bison in Canada. 

Thank you to all of our speakers, attendees, and our Mountain Festival faculty and corporate sponsors! (Full list of sponsors below).

Bison Reintroduction Panelists:

Dr. Leroy Little Bear of the Kainai First Nation
Dr. Tasha Hubbard - filmmaker and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan
Harvey Locke - Trustee of the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation
Tanya Harnett - Associate Professor of Art & Design at the University of Alberta and member of the Carry-the-Kettle First Nations in Saskatchewan
William Snow - Consultation Manager for the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, and
Dale Kirkland - Superintendent of Elk Island National Park.

This event was part of the Canadian Mountain Network’s 2016 Mountain Festival, made possible through the generous support of the University of Alberta faculty of Science, the University of Alberta faculty of Arts, Campbell Scientific Canada, First Air, Marmot Basin, and Fireweed Creative. Search #IMD2016CMN to find live-tweets and posts from the 2016 Mountain Festival! 

See the Canadian Mountain Network's YouTube channel for more Mountain Festival videos!

Christy Urban