Pollination has become an increasingly important topic with movements such as “Save The Bees” spreading across the globe. But why is pollination essential? What role do Indigenous communities and their youth play in protecting the pollinators?
CIER staff members Carlyn Allary and Wendy Ross recently travelled to Barren Lands First Nation in Manitoba to give presentations on the importance of pollinators to youth from kindergarten to grade 6 at Brochet School. They discussed how the pollination process works, the vital role pollinators play in our environment and food systems, and the actions Indigenous youth can take to help save the pollinators.
“Pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds assist flowers in their reproduction by spreading pollen grains between flowers. The type of pollinator visiting a flower will depend on the flower’s structure, odour, shape, colour and nectar,” says Ross. “It’s a beautiful relationship. The flowers provide nectar for the pollinators to eat, and in turn, the pollinators help flowers reproduce.”
Pollinators play a crucial role in producing berries, medicines such as tobacco and sage, as well as vegetables, nuts and herbs. They also are essential in helping plants that are responsible for providing us with one of every three bites of food we eat.
Pollinators’ value extends beyond maintaining food production. They also keep the environment healthy and culturally active by sustaining ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity that in turn provides medicines, teachings, and natural resources that Indigenous Peoples have been using for millennia.
Unfortunately, our pollinator populations are severely declining due to chemical use, urbanization, agriculture, and climate change. ”The more aware communities are about pollinators, the more they can contribute to their conservation,” says Allary.
The CIER presentations included interviews about the scientific and cultural importance of pollinators featuring Dr. Kyle Bobiwash, a professor of Entomology at the University of Manitoba and Bob Austman, a retired Biology teacher now working on various community projects in Black River First Nation in Manitoba.
In addition, students were provided with workbooks that contained the types of pollinators specific to Canada. Also included were various activities for students to complete during and after the presentations. At the conclusion, the CIER team provided Barren Lands First Nation with seeds to build a pollinator garden for the next growing season.