A biocultural and interdisciplinary approach to pollinator conservation through ecology, art and pedagogy
Sheila Colla (PI) and Lisa Myers (Co-PI)
The rapid decline of insect pollinators has been documented globally and has significant implications on food security and natural ecosystems. The project aims to take an interdisciplinary, biocultural approach to investigate plant-pollinator biodiversity in Canada. The research team will work with pre-existing gardens created by the late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald and develop new Indigenous gardens at various locations across Ontario. While near Kitwanga BC in an area threatened by clear-cut logging, MacDonald’s encounters with pollinators inspired his understanding of their connection to medicine plants and healing. This was the seed of his numerous in-situ gardens created from 1995 to 2003 which he planted across the country from Vancouver to Halifax. The growing of gardens as part of contemporary art practice has burgeoned into ecological and eco-art genres with potential for community-engaged art practices that address shared colonial histories of food, land use and medicines. MacDonald’s work bridges ecological concerns and reflects on Indigenous knowledge of plant medicines. The gardens will provide spaces for ecological research and create community-engaged arts programming to share knowledge of pollinators, plant medicines and land rights. Funding: New Frontiers Research Fund (NFRF) $250,000.