Saturday, 17 June 2017 08:00

Changes help bring awareness about KEPA Summit

Written by  Demi Knight
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The Kainai Ecosystem Protection Association (KEPA) hosted its annual Summit for the fourth year in a row June 8-10.

For the first time since its founding, KEPA hosted a separate location two-day event; one in Standoff and the second day at the University of Lethbridge.
This year’s Summit event was based around the theme of ‘Blackfoot Science’ and worked to educate participants on the necessities of environmental protection and conservation.
Past chair of KEPA, Mike Bruised Head, says this year was about bringing voices to the table from where the group originally began.
“We want to spread more awareness of environmental issues,” said Bruised Head.
“Every year, we have a new theme and we hear from professionals and scientists and even students and people were starting to ask why they don’t hear from us, so that’s why we made this year’s theme the Blackfoot science.”  
The Kainai Ecosystem Protection Association was first formed four years ago to fill the void on the Blood Reserve of no existing environmental groups. Bruised Head says the necessity of understanding and maintaining the environment is something that should be addressed by everyone from every community.
“We want to bring more awareness,” he adds.
“For the past 20 to 30 years, there’s never been an environmental group on the Blood Reserve. To me,
I feel not only should we be sharing, but also creating a place free of racism and separation for young people to join with elders and discuss problems, solutions and create the capacity for environmental knowledge and consciousness because it’s something we should all care about.”
This three-day event that usually takes place in Standoff alone moved this year within city limits to the University of Lethbridge for its second day, with hopes to attract more college and university professors and students alike by bringing it into their community for easy access.
The first day of the event was once again held in Standoff. During these two days, a number of speakers and professionals shared their knowledge and information on environmental issues.
Speakers and scientists Charlie Crow Chief and Cristina Eisenberg were two of the people to give presentations throughout the two-day event
at Standoff and the University of Lethbridge. Accompanying these sessions also were authors Greg Cajete and Wes Olsen. A presentation was also done by Leroy Little Bear.
The third day of the event moved on to day-long field trips that allowed members of the event to not only hear information on the environment, but also to experience it.
“This year, we had day-long field trips on the Sunday to Sundial Site to visit historical sights, Blackfeet bison herding as well as a trip to Waterton where we are doing a new environmental study and assessment. We do this so that the people get to experience the real thing as well as hearing about it for the full experience.”
In its past four years of existence, the Summit sessions have pulled in an audience from all over, with upwards of 200 people in attendance each year. As well as the audience, world renowned scientists have attended the events to give talks or presentations as well as professors, and students learning about environmental sciences alike.
The event offers material that is valuable to the audience from a wide range of professionals and speakers; making the event a highly-regarded happening amongst the community for its environmental work.
Bruised Head says the Summit events are a great way each year to learn and to meet new people.
“We have people attending from all over. Some people keep coming back each year, because it’s a great place to network and meet a lot of new friends as well as gain valuable knowledge,” he adds.
“We’ve tackled a lot of issues in the past including water and air quality and solar and windmill energy discussions. It’s a great place to discuss issues with scientist, students and local elders.”

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