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Conferences & lectures

Sustainability: The human (and monkey) dimension

Part of the Hope and Agency in Uncertain Times conference

Date & time
Tuesday, March 12, 2024
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Jacob Wade-Valance, Sam Henle, Cindy Balan, Stephanie Eccles, Antonio Castillo, and Mikaela Gerwing


This event is free and open to the public in person and online


Rebecca Tittler


J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Wheel chair accessible


This sessions features a series of presentations by Concordia graduate and undergraduate researchers around the general issue of sustainability. Come learn about the exciting research happening among our students!

Jacob Wade-Vallance: Multispecies cities: Entanglements of human and other-than-human affairs in an urban setting

What is the nature of encounters of humans with other than humans in an urban setting? Do they most often exist as conflict, if so, what is the source of this conflict? Can cities serve as a zone in which humans can learn about other animals, and as urbanization increases, can cities be a sustainable and non-anthropocentric place?

Charlotte Whyte

Cindy Balan: The need for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging education in community gardens

The idealization of community gardens is a phenomenon that seems innocuous yet creates harmful consequences for many vulnerable populations around Montreal. On the surface, these gardens generate a list of benefits for their participants: community, education, fraternization, physical activity, reconnection with nature, food security, creation and maintenance of green spaces. The reality is that these advantages are only perceived and often disconnected from the lived experience of many aspiring community gardeners. In order to reap a few of these benefits, honest and open discussions on ethical and cultural socialization practices in community gardens are essential. Raising awareness over the implications of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging concerns is essential to creating informed and balanced green spaces.

Stephanie Eccles: The impacts of the 2021 Abbotsford Floods on agricultural communities

The impacts of the climate crisis on animal agricultural production globally has engendered an increasing interest in how to respond to and mitigate future catastrophes. Disaster management literature suggests in order to do this we must first understand the risks and impacts of such disasters. In this presentation I will outline the key risks and impacts of the 2021 Abbortsford Floods in the Fraser Valley Regional District, the unceded lands of the Stó:lō people in British Colombia. The history of agriculture in this area is rooted in capitalist and settler-colonialism models of agriculture that prioritized expansion and growth rather than sustainability or stewardship that endure today. In the 1920s the Sumas Lake was drained and isolated from nearby rivers, developing what is today one of the most economically productive agricultural regions in Canada. The area is not unfamiliar with floods with flooding happening in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1990s however what has changed is the scale of agriculture. Abbotsford region is ranked Canada’s largest agricultural town, generating over $1 billion annually in on-farm gate sales. It is this same area that in the past 3 years has signalled the climate crisis through fires, floods, and heat raising alarming animal welfare issues including the death of millions of animals as well as having grave environmental consequences. In this presentation, I will focus on the experiences of the community both human and nonhuman animals looking at conditions before the flood, during the flood, and after. I will conclude by discussing the provinces' “Building Back Better” policy that, as I will show fails to seriously grapple with the risks of settler-colonial capitalist agricultural practices and the climate crisis.

Antonio Castillo: From rafts to blades: Sailing towards sustainable Balsa plantation management in Ecuador

Balsa is becoming a critical resource for the renewable energy transition. Yet, it's production is having facing issues as it's affecting indigenous people of the Amazon. As such, can plantations come into mind to solve this issue, but face their own problems. So how can Ecuador, the world's largest producer of Balsa play a role in it's sustainable production?

Mikaela Gerwing: Capuchin monkey rehabilitation and reintroduction in Northeastern Brazil

Around the world, particularly in Latin America, governments often confiscate nonhuman primates, such as capuchin monkeys, that are being kept illegally as pets, in entertainment, or that have been orphaned due to poaching. The rehabilitation and reintroduction process offers a second chance at life for captive individuals and can be a valuable tool to maintain or restore genetic, species, ecosystem and functional diversity.  In 2023, MG spent five months studying the rehabilitation and reintroduction of bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in the Brazilian Caatinga forest biome, focusing on animal personality and stereotypic behaviour in correlation with release success. The process from rehabilitation to reintroduction is a complicated task involving countless stakeholders, last minute changes and uncertainty. Here, we present a case example of the rehabilitation and reintroduction process, beginning at a government-run rescue centre in a major city, conducting behavioural focal samples and rehabilitation training with ten monkeys. We review the steps involved, and discuss some challenges associated with finding an appropriate release site, negotiating with stakeholders, building a soft-release enclosure, navigating community engagement, transporting and releasing monkeys, and conducting post-release monitoring. Finally, we will make comparisons with other published release cases from the literature and provide suggestions for future releases. This research will advance knowledge in the fields of animal behaviour, animal personality, and rehabilitation and release of captive primates, and will have direct applied conservation benefits for the capuchins in the Caatinga region of Brazil.

This event is part of:

Hope and agency in uncertain times

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