Published Works

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A Pastoral Meditation on Time

Culturally Modified - October 24, 2018

When the first roosters crow in southwestern Uganda, the world outside steeps in darkness. By the second crow, the abahingi mukazi, a local Bakiga word to describe the “women who dig,” or women farmers, stir in their beds. Light slips under the lid of the sky. After the third crow of the rooster, girls and women rise for the morning rituals: kindling the fires, boiling water for porridge and heating up leftover sweet potatoes and cassava for breakfast. Read more...

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A Labour of Love

September 13, 2018 - Calgary Herald

Sarah Weigum drives a Caterpillar Challenger. The name seems appropriate for a tractor, which looks like something you could drive on the moon. The back wheels stand nearly twice as tall as Weigum herself, but she is unfazed. She refers to the goliath as her “office,” a fitting name for the place from which she oversees operations at Alect Seeds, a 1,100-hectare pedigree seed farm outside Three Hills, Alta. Read more.


For the Love of Wild Bees

August 31, 2018 - Alberta Wildfire

“There’s a huge gap in [research] data on native bees,” explains Evans, who approached Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to partner on the study, which aims to build a population inventory on native bees in the province. According to the Canadian government’s “status of species” report, there are 321 species of wild bees in Alberta. Evans says that number could be closer to 380. “There are probably close to 60 species that we haven’t even recorded yet. We think through this project, with this great provincial coverage, it’s very likely that we’ll find these species.” Read more.


Farming as Resistance

June 14, 2018 - Yes! Magazine

At an elevation of nearly 4,000 meters above sea level, Comitancillo, a province in northwestern Guatemala, was a formidable place to farm. Maya-Mam communities had lived on these barren slopes in northwestern Guatemala for nearly 500 years. Looking down the mountainside, I witnessed how the Mam adapted to live on their mountain fortress: They’d carved steps into the mountainside, thousands of terraces that cascaded down to the bottom of the valley. Read more.


How Cuba's Women Farmers Kept Everyone Fed

May 14, 2018 - Yes! Magazine

The large sign out front read Linda Flor, Beautiful Flower, and the farmer, a woman named Edith, waited by the roadside, waving warmly at me. Edith’s friends called her La Chiquita, the small one, because she barely reached 5 feet. The 50-year-old farmer wore her stylish, skin-tight outfit with black rubber boots and a pair of miniature cloth work gloves that enclosed her small hands. Aside from farming, she later confessed, she loved dancing. Read more.


Women Who Feed the World

May 3, 2018 - The Walrus

My great-grandmother, Eleanor, boarded a steamboat with her husband, David, and their two sons, John and Desmond, in 1925. She waved goodbye to Ireland’s rocky shores, to the rolling green pastures, and to the stone-strewn farmland. They abandoned the marshy flats of Mountmellick, a tiny village located in the geographical centre of Ireland where her husband was born. Read more.

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Local Food as Medicine

April 27, 2018 - Hakai Magazine

It’s a Haida saying she’s never forgotten: “When the tide is low, the table is set.” Jenny Cross grew up beside the Pacific Ocean in the village of Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, a remote archipelago off British Columbia’s northwestern coast. For Cross, like many Haida people, fishing and foraging for the wild foods that are abundant on the remote islands is a way of life. When the ocean recedes, they dig for razor clams. In the spring, they harvest and dry seaweed, and fish the rivers and streams for salmon. Read more.


The Future of Farming is Female

March 8, 2018 - The Globe and Mail

“People often think that the farmer is the man. [Some] assume that I’m the farmer’s wife,” says Dawn Boileau with a wry look on her face. A farmer in her late 30s, Ms. Boileau runs Sunrise Gardens, a small-scale organic farm operation in Onoway, Alta. Every Saturday, Ms. Boileau and her wife, Kate Hook, haul a bounty of organically grown Nantes carrots, butternut squash, along with trays of electric green wheatgrass and microgreens, to sell at the Strathcona Farmers’ Market in Edmonton. Read more.


Women Who Feed the Islands

March 8, 2018 - Haida Gwaii Observer

How are women working to harvest local foods, feed community, and promote food security on Haida Gwaii – one of the most remote island populations in Canada? A few months ago, a hunger to answer this question led me on a road trip from northern Alberta and across the Hecate Strait to Graham Island, where I’ve been learning about women and food culture while enjoying the flavours of wild salmon, crab, chanterelles, venison, and local root vegetables. Read more.


Eye in the Sky: Life on the Fire Watch in Alberta's Northwestern Boreal

June 30, 2017 - Swerve Magazine

By five o’clock in the afternoon I feel the full-bodied weight of the humidity on my skin. I listen to the wind gradually winding down. Everything around me says: Nothing is going to burn. Not today, anyway. I can lower my eyes from the horizon, pick up my ukulele, and strum a few chords. Outside my fire-tower window, the cumulus clouds swim so low that it feels as though I could reach out and stroke their white bellies. Read more. 

The Mystery of Ursus Arctos - Searching for Grizzlies in Alberta's Boreal

June 30, 2017 - Alberta Views

At the edge of a swamping opening in a remote region of the Peace Country, Lyle Fullerton is pleased to find what we’ve traversed the muskeg for: some golden hairs of Ursus arctos caught in a strand of barbed wire strung around a pine tree. The snag site—baited with a sticky, synthetic mixture to lure grizzlies—is just one of 200 that Fullerton, a biologist and special projects coordinator with the Government of Alberta, and his team have set up on a grid throughout the forested and farmland areas of the Chinchaga. Read more.


Down on the Farm: Women Farmers in the Peace Country

May 1, 2017 - Move Up Magazine

“From the time that I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a farmer,” recalls Mary Lundgard from her family’s home, just outside Grimshaw, Alberta. As she talks, she minces a clove of garlic – locally grown by her daughter, Lisa – and adds it to the mushroom soup simmering on the stovetop. Born and raised in the eastern Maritimes of Canada, Lundgard was a town girl with the dream to grow and raise her own food. Read more. 

Surviving a Season as a Fire Tower Lookout

Winter 2017 - Verge Magazine

At first, I thought that being a fire tower lookout in Alberta’s boreal forest was the antithesis of travel. I spent my childhood and adolescent years in Peace River, a small town in the north, camping, paddling down the river and casting fishing lines into reed-edged lakes. My fire tower was located only a couple hundred kilometres to the north. Read more..

Tracking Grizzly Bears With a Smartphone in Northern Alberta

November 23, 2016 - Motherboard

As grizzly bears are retreating into their winter dens in the Peace Country of northwestern Alberta, local biologists are wrapping up the beta-testing phase of Grizz Tracker, a citizen science project that allows the public to track sightings of grizzly bears using smartphones and, in turn, contribute to critical research on this threatened species. Read more...

Witnessing the Wild

Alberta Wildfire - November 2, 2016

The idea of living in the boreal forest at a fly-in fire tower for five months is unfathomable for many people – and rightfully so. As a rookie lookout observer, I wasn’t sure what to expect last April when I nervously loaded up my boxes of food and belongings into the helicopter. Was I bringing the right things? How would I handle the long days of solitude? Read more...

Office in the Sky - Fieldnotes from a Lookout Observer

Alberta Wildfire - July 25, 2016

They say that a veteran lookout observer can wake up in the morning, step outside their cabin, take one long look up at the sky, and feel in their bones what kind of fire day it’s going to be. Of the 127 lookout observers in Alberta, the majority have at least a few seasons of spotting smoke under their belts, while some of the veterans have been doing it for decades. Read more...

Farmworkers Push Back Against Machismo and Abuse in California's Wine Country

Yes! Magazine - June 21, 2016

Sofia’s hands are worn like soft, tanned leather from years of picking grapes from the vines that carpet the rolling hills of Sonoma County, California. “I grew up pizcando, harvesting maize,” Sofia recalls. “My father taught me because he always said, ‘One day you'll need to be an independent woman, and this is a skill that will help you.’ He was right. This work is my life.” Read more...

The Ugandan Dictator and the Louisiana Crayfish

Narratively - April 28, 2016

The fishermen begin their work at five a.m., before the sun illuminates the lake, immersing their woven basket traps below the surface. The men live on the steep hillsides around the warped edges of Lake Bunyonyi, a volcanic crater lake that cradles 29 rolling green islands. At nearly 150 feet deep, it’s the second-deepest lake on the African continent. Read more...

The Power of Prevention - Research Rockstar: Dr. Paula Robson

LEAP Magazine - March 8, 2016

Why are men more likely than women to develop cancer? Why is there a higher incidence of cancer in Eastern Canada than in the West? Why do 80 per cent of patients who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease? What if society better understood the complex causes of cancer and who was the most susceptible to developing the disease in their lifetime? Read more...

Raising Rabbits - Local Solutions to Child Malnutrition in Southwestern Uganda

Modern Farmer - January 12, 2016

For decades, Western philanthropists, research institution, and nonprofit organizations—including USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—have invested billions of dollars in attempts to solve the issue of child malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa where the World Food Programme estimates that nearly a quarter of the population is undernourished. Read more...


Managing Hurricane Sandy - Cuban Women Critical to Regrowing Communities

Briarpatch Magazine - December 23, 2015

It was midnight on October 25, 2012 when Hurricane Sandy penetrated the Sierra Maestra mountain range and roared toward Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba. The winds raged at over 200 kilometres per hour, uprooting and devouring everything in their wake: agricultural crops, fruit trees, buildings, and homes. Celia Soca and her husband woke suddenly when a massive mango tree came crashing through their roof. In the next room, her children wailed. Soca knew they had to leave fast and head for higher ground. Read more...


Bridging the Cultural Gap

LEAP Magazine - December 1, 2015

Sitting at her desk at the Cross Cancer Institute, Lori Kirkaldy defines the Cree word for cancer: munchoosuk. “It literally means, ‘a bug that eats you from the inside out,’” she says. “In other dialects, it translates to ‘a spider under the leaves.’” Kirkaldy’s job, as aboriginal cancer navigator at the Cross, sees her facing down the cultural and medical differences that arise when some aboriginal people are diagnosed with cancer. Read more...


Edmonton Nurse Discovers Refugee Crisis Involves More Than Syrians

Edmonton Journal - December 8, 2015

It started with a text message on October 28th. Ravi Jaipaul, a 29-year-old humanitarian nurse from Edmonton, and his wife, Sarah Entwistle, a 31-year-old British nurse, were sleeping at home in the United Kingdom when they were jolted awake at 1 a.m. by a text message from a nursing colleague in Lesbos, Greece. “Boat capsized. Ten children unconscious. Get down to the harbour if you know CPR.” Read more...


Youth Want to Be Heard at COP21, Not Just Seen

Vue Weekly - December 5, 2016

“Paris is a crazy place to be right now,” says Diane Connors, a 26-year-old Edmonton activist who landed at ‘ground zero’ of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, just last week. The COP21, an unprecedented climate change convention running from November 30 to December 11 2015, has attracted 25 000 leaders and delegates from more than 190 countries. The aim of COP21 is for world leaders to achieve a universal agreement on climate change. Read more...


Urban Farms - The New Frontier for Female Farmers

Modern Farmer - December 3, 2015

Vanessa Hanel is a twenty-nine year old female farmer living in the heart of grain-and-cattle country in Calgary, Alberta. Hanel didn’t grow up on a farm, but developed a passion for agriculture in her early twenties. After sowing her first handful of seeds in a community garden plot, she grew hooked on growing food and, eventually, farming. Hanel isn’t alone. Read more...

Women Farming in the City

GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine - November 18, 2015

“No daughter of mine will ever farm.” Mary Beckie remembers the sting of her father’s words. It was 1975 and it felt to the fifteen-year-old girl—who often escaped the tedium of domestic work for the love of labouring on the farm with her five older brothers—like a “slap across the face.” “I did everything [on the farm],” Beckie said. “I worked with my father, day by day. I was good at what I did and he acknowledged that, but I knew I wasn’t going to get any land.” Read more...


Palming Off the Problem

Verge Magazine - Fall Edition 2015

For poor farmers in Nicaragua, palm plantations mean environmental destruction, chemical exposure—and a paycheque. Is there an alternative? Read more...

Trauma is Like a Snakebite

Vela Magazine - September 15, 2015

What comes out of my mouth is the cry a dog makes after being hit by a car, a shrill whimper. It’s the sound you go searching for in the dark, shining the flashlight into corners. What is making that terrible noise? For a moment, I chase the sound in my mind, wondering, and then I’m startled to realize: it’s me. I never thought I could make such a sound. Read more...


Harper's Anti-Politics Machine - Canada's Mining Industry and International Development

The Harper Decade - September 3, 2015

In May 2006 – four months after Stephen Harper was sworn into office as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada – I was a 21-year old post-secondary student traveling to eastern Guatemala to help construct a maternity clinic outside the town of El Estor. Read more...

These Walls Tell Stories

LEAP Magazine - September 10, 2015

The walls in Marie Butler’s office are covered from floor to ceiling with paintings, bright textiles and uplifting quotes. The tables are filled with paints, crayons and a thick heap of rainbow-coloured felt. There’s a purple-felted wizard perching on her desk and “Grandmother Willow,” a chair Butler made from bent willow boughs, rests in the corner like a queen’s throne. It’s a visual feast for the eyes, a place for creative expression and an emotional refuge for families struggling with the overwhelming grief of losing a loved one to cancer. Read more...


Letters from David Suzuki

Vue Weekly - July 2, 2015

“Come in!” Though I’ve never met David Suzuki before, his voice rings through the open door, sounding as familiar as my late grandfather’s. My guess is that many other 20- to 30-year-old Canadians would feel the same way. We grew up on Suzuki’s The Nature of Things. His voice and perspective have influenced the way Canadians see and interact with the environment. Meeting Suzuki is like meeting a long-lost family member for the first time, and I’m nervous. Read more...

Harper Fails to Address the Roots of Global and Local Gender Inequality

Vue Weekly - May 27, 2015

The global cry for gender equality has never been louder. Rural Indian women are fighting for farmland, Ugandan and Kenyan women are fighting draconian “anti-miniskirt” laws that criminalize their thighs, and Canadian First Nations and aboriginal women are fighting for a national inquiry into the tragic deaths and disappearances of more than 1200 indigenous women since the 1980s. Read more...


Permaculture or Spermaculture? Confronting Patriarchy in Permaculture and Alternative Food Movements

Briarpatch Magazine - April 27, 2015

For Halena Seiferling, a master’s of policy studies student at Simon Fraser University, it’s a question generated not from facts or statistics, but from one of the most essential principles of permaculture: observation. “I started to wonder about some of the voices, typically male, that were leading the conversation about challenging local food systems,” Seiferling says. “They seemed to favour liberalism over facing and actually addressing social injustice.” Read more...

Congolese Refugees Can "Never Go Back"

Vue Weekly - January 28, 2015

For more than four years, *Hanna, a 33-year-old eastern Congolese woman, and her family have been living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, a UNHCR-operated camp located in southern Uganda. She and her husband live in a semi-permanent house, grow maize and beans on small, scattered plots surrounding Nakivale, and are raising three daughters who are enrolled in a primary school in the settlement. Hanna says life has stabilized in the refugee settlement, but it is impossible to forget the events that brought her to Nakivale. Read more...


'Tis the Season to Raise Chickens

Vue Weekly - December 17, 2014

New holiday traditions are being made—and laid—in Linda and Troy Johnson’s backyard this holiday season. Outside, the Christmas lights twinkle on the newly constructed chicken coop while inside, their family enjoys eggs harvested daily and mugfuls of homemade eggnog. “We have more eggs than we know what to do with,” Linda says with a laugh, explaining that their family’s four hens lay one to two eggs every day. Read more...

Indigenous Farmers Confront Canada's Goldcorp

Briarpatch Magazine - September 1, 2014

Lines etch across Tomasa Perez Jimenez’s tawny features as her eyes study her floor. The cracked earth contrasts with the party pink of her traditional blouse. Her voice is quiet and steady as she discusses the mine that has been operating on her doorstep for more than a decade. “In truth, [the mine] has brought a lot of conflict here; it’s brought very many social and environmental conflicts,” says the 54-year-old subsistence farmer. Read more...

The Power of the Paintbrush

Vue Weekly - June 25, 2015

For 25-year-old MacEwan University student Veronica Petrola, participating in the month-long volunteer construction program Project HOPE in Estelí, Nicaragua with 11 other Edmonton students, was about more than just mixing dirt and concrete to build up a secondary school. “When we all worked on the wall, brush-stroking away, we created a very unique feeling of togetherness,” Petrola says. “I found it instantly rewarding to take a step back and look at our progress [with] our ideas taking shape and the colours coming together.” Read more...

Dirty Hands and the Love of the Land

Vue Weekly - May 7, 2014

A decade ago, Heidi Ellis never would have dreamed of becoming a farmer. She grew up in the city of Strathmore, ON, only an hour’s drive from Toronto. “Farming is the last thing I thought I’d ever do,” Ellis says with a laugh. “Growing up, I remember picking peas from my mom’s garden, but I was never interested in growing food and definitely not for a living. And now I have seeds all over my house!" Read more...


Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Permaculture Magazine - April 25, 2014

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds for the next harvest. Aurelia is a Maya-Mam woman, mother, wife and farmer. Read more...

Women Who Dig

Creative Non-Fiction Runner-Up

Briarpatch Magazine - March 17, 2014

Before we talk, we eat. Aurelia has laid out lunch on the long skinny table. She’s prepared dishes that give homage to maíz, corn – the food that defines Mayan-Mam cultural heritage of the Comitancillo highlands of northwestern Guatemala. There’s sopa de res y maíz, beef and corn soup, and heavy maíz tamales steaming hot from inside banana leaves. There are corn tortillas and a pot of red pinto beans and several halved squash revealing their green and yellow flesh. And lining the four walls of her home, under her low wooden ceiling, there are hundreds of cobs of corn, dried and tied along a rope. Read more...

Cracking the Soil in Uganda - Assessing the G8's New Agricultural Policy

Briarpatch Magazine - January 6, 2014

Ninsiima Florence is working in her field of vegetables in the village of Nyakiju, Muyumbu, in southwestern Uganda. She’s swinging the efuka, a traditional hand hoe that’s used by the Abataka, the “people of the soil,” as Florence’s cultural group, the Bakiga, are called. She strikes the iron earth with all her strength, cracking the hard surface open to reveal an underbelly of soft mineral soil. Read more...

Flowers and Garbage in Cuba

Permaculture Magazine - November 4, 2013

Seventeen years ago, Edith’s story began with garbage. The year was 1996. It was seven years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Cuba, being an island country who had depended on the Soviet powers for imported food goods, was still hungry from the crisis that had come awash on its shores. Read more...