2018 Speakers and Schedule

Keynote Speaker


Dr. Juanita Sundberg, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

The Nature of Border Control: Walls, legal waivers, and the proliferation of insecurities for multispecies communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands

Boundary making and enforcement are more-than- human processes involving the often violent (re)configuration of interspecies relations. Indeed, I argue, boundary enforcement operations are mechanisms of multispecies worlding, practices that organize the world through onto-epistemological and material separations, distinctions, exclusions, and exceptions. This presentation examines the multispecies dimensions of the current boundary enforcement regime, which, according to Donald Trump, is committed to “complete operational control” of the border. Of particular importance are the legal waivers used by the Department of Homeland Security to build border infrastructure while avoiding legislation designed to regulate federal projects and govern relations with non-human worlds. My objective is to highlight the sustainability and environmental justice implications for intimately connected multispecies communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, composed of people, but also non-human animals, plants, and other beings living in relation to geologic and climatic processes.

Juanita Sundberg is Associate Professor of Geography and Latin American Studies at the University of British Columbia. She brings the insights of feminist political ecology and the sensibilities of an ethnographer to bear on nature conservation, settler colonialism, and militarized boundary enforcement. Dr. Sundberg is working on a book addressing the nature of geopolitics in the United States southern borderlands. The book draws on twelve years of research focusing on the environmental dimensions of U.S. border security in border protected areas, especially national wildlife refuges.

Academic and Community Speakers


Dr. Joseph Bennett, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Carleton University

Prioritizing management across borders – partnerships are crucial

It is well known that species do not respect international borders. This is particularly the case for migratory species. However, most conservation efforts are organized within national or even sub-national jurisdictions, because of legal mandates, convenience, or both. Our analysis of threatened species conservation in Canada suggests that a national-scale focus is leading to inefficient allocation of efforts. Only a small proportion of globally endangered species are being prioritized for management, while many species or subspecies that are common further south are instead being prioritized. More effective management involving cooperative priority setting across borders will help to save the species that are nearest to extinction. Similarly, our work using citizen science data to select the most important areas for bird conservation, suggests that management considering only breeding habitats in the US and Canada, or non-breeding habitats in Latin America, is far less efficient than management considering distributions across the full annual cycle. To achieve more efficient trans-national conservation, partnerships among all countries in the Americas will be crucial, and will require reciprocal material and intellectual support.

Joseph Bennett is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Department of Biology at Carleton University. He is a co-director of the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Laboratory (GLEL), and an Associate Editor at the Journal of Applied Ecology. Research in his lab focuses on conservation prioritization, invasion ecology, optimal monitoring, biogeography and spatial statistics. Dr. Bennett has a particular interest in practical questions regarding management to protect threatened species and invasive species control. He also works on theoretical questions regarding the value of monitoring information and the determinants of community assembly in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.


Dr. Theresa Thompson-Colón, Research Associate, School of Human Nutrition and Department of Sociology, McGill University

More Nutritious Potatoes Project: barriers and facilitators in scaling-up innovations for nutrition and food security in Colombia

In November 2015, the McGill Institute of Global Food Security, in collaboration with the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá), launched the More Nutritious Potatoes Project, a large-scale multidisciplinary research partnership for scaling-up an agricultural innovation of three new varieties of yellow potatoes (Criolla Ocarina, Criolla Dorada, and Criolla Sua Pa) to tackle serious national challenges of malnutrition and food insecurity in Colombia. This project is centered on developing and implementing a conceptual model, undertaking a holistic, trans-disciplinary, and sustainable approach for escalating production, marketing, and consumption of the new potato varieties, and for shaping knowledge and public policies through education, multisector synergies, and stakeholder engagement to impact rural development. Thus, what began as a 28-month, ambitious effort has become an instrument of social change at multiple levels (e.g., increase in civic engagement, women’s empowerment, environment protection, practice of healthy living), and to a larger extent, a conceptual model that may be applied to other international development research initiative and intervention programs. Drawing key lessons from her participation in this project, Dr. Thompson-Colón will discuss barriers and facilitators in scaling-up innovations for rural development and food security and nutrition in Colombia, and provide examples of how the project team efforts turned the proposed scale-up model into successful outcomes.

Dr. Thompson-Colón is a Research Associate, affiliated to the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, with a joined appointment with the School of Human Nutrition and the Department of Sociology. With more than 20 years of international research experience leading complex data collection efforts in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean region, and West Africa, Dr. Thompson-Colón is well-versed in survey methods and practices, stirring her expertise, more recently, into designing and conducting rigorous program evaluations. Dr. Thompson-Colón holds a master and doctorate degrees in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Business Administration degree from the University of Puerto Rico.

John Onawario Cree, Traditional Longhouse Bear Clan Faithkeeper

John Onawario Cree was born at home in Kanehsatake, Mohawk Territory and raised by his grandparents. In 2005, Onawario was hired as a Grandfather (Elder) to share traditional teachings with Indigenous inmates through Corrections Services Canada, from the minimum to the Super Maximum Special Handling Unit in Ste. Anne des Plaines, Quebec.

Onawario is happily married to his wife Linda, parents of four children, grandparents to 9 precious grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Onawario still manages to do what he loves best – growing the “Three Sisters” – Indian white corn, beans and squash, traditional Grandfather tobacco and in the Spring, teaching his children, grandchildren, and children in the community how to make maple syrup on his land in Kanehsatake.