Colouring Nature

We all have a unique story to tell and it is important that every story be heard. Colouring Nature is an evening panel discussion that will provide the opportunity to listen to a diverse set of stories of relationships and experiences with nature.

Our featured panelists, Deborah McGregor (Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice at York University), Drew Lanham (Cultural/Conservation Ornithologist, Lifelong Bird Watcher & Naturalist, Author, Professor & Poet Laureate), and Peter Soroye (University of Ottawa PhD Student), will help us to navigate the topic of race in nature. Guided by our moderator, Rhinannon Kirton, our panelists will share their personal experiences, barriers to accessing nature that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities face, and how people and organizations can help to challenge racism in the outdoors.

Attendees will get the chance to ask our panelists questions at the end of the discussion, but feel free to pre-submit your questions before the event to [email protected].


Deborah McGregor, Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice at York University

As a Canada Research Chair, cross-appointed with Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Professor McGregor has been at the forefront of Indigenous environmental justice and Indigenous research theory and practice. Over the years, she has achieved international recognition through her creative and innovative approach using digital and social media to reach Indigenous communities and the public.  Her work has been shared through the IEJ project website and UKRI International Collaboration on Indigenous research




Drew Lanham, Cultural/Conservation Ornithologist, Lifelong Bird Watcher & Naturalist, Author, Professor & Poet Laureate 

J. Drew Lanham, PhD,  is a Clemson University Distinguished Professor and Provost's Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation. A faculty member since 1995,  Drew is an internationally respected conservation and cultural   ornithologist.  He is a past board member of several organizations including the National Audubon Society,  Aldo Leopold Foundation, the American Birding Association  and BirdNote. He is also the former  Chairperson of the advisory board for Audubon South Carolina and was a twelve year member of the SC Wildlife Federation. 
Dr. Lanham is a widely published author and poet focusing on a passion for place and the personal and societal conflicts that sometimes put conservation and culture at odds. Drew was named the Poet Laureate for his home place county of Edgefield, South Carolina in 2018 and is the author of "Sparrow Envy- Poems" (Hub City Press 2019). His award winning book, "The Home Place-Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature" (print by Milkweed Editions 2016/ audiobook by Tantor Media 2019 -- Burroughs Medal Finalist 2016; 2018 SELC Reed Environmental Writing Award; 2020 Scholarly Book of the Decade; 2020 Memoir of the Decade) exemplifies  his passion  to define environmental sustainability and conservation in new ways by bridging the gaps between advocacy, education, inspiration and conservation.  His essay, "Forever Gone" a lyrical treatise on extinction,  was chosen as a Best American Essay for 2018. He has been summer faculty at the Bread Loaf Environmental Writing Workshop (2019, 2020) and the Writing in the Ruins Workshop 
( 2012).  He is a member of the Orion Magazine Editorial Board. As a Black American, he’s intrigued with how ethnic prisms bend perceptions of nature and its care. Drew lives with his wife Janice Garrison Lanham, in Seneca, South Carolina.

Peter Soroye, PhD Student

Peter Soroye is a PhD Student at the University of Ottawa, researching the effects of climate change and habitat loss on pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies. Peter uses and studies community science (e.g. citizen science) data like eButterfly or iNaturalist, and is a huge proponent of the value of these types of monitoring programs for research and conservation. Peter enjoys getting excited about research and sharing it, and throughout his studies he has also spent much time volunteering in and organizing various public science communication events. In his spare time, Peter enjoys camping, hiking, and watching the Toronto Raptors, and is an amateur birder, butterfly-er, and wildlife photographer.




Rhiannon Kirton, Graduate Student

Rhiannon is a current graduate student at The University of Western Ontario and an alumni of the University of Manchester, England where she gained a BSc in Zoology. Rhiannon’s interest in large mammals and carnivores has taken her around the world including time in British Columbia, Montana, New Zealand and South Africa. This passion has supported a keen interest in protected areas and landscape level conservation initiatives.

When not making maps, reading papers or doing fieldwork she enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, canoeing and learning new skills outdoors. Previously part of the team that organized BlackBirdersWeek, Rhiannon continues to work on diversity initiatives in the sciences such as BlackMammalogistsWeek (Sept 13th – 18th 2020) and in the outdoor recreation industry championing “representation matters” to try and increase visibility for those wanting to join these communities.


This event is in partnership with:


September 09, 2020 at 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Darby Alderson ·

Will you come?