On September 25, 2018 Bee City Canada held their first Pollinator Summit at the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Woodbridge, Ontario. This report provides a summary of the event that emphasized participation and collaboration.
Workshop participants included representatives from 19 current and future Ontario Bee Cities, four Bee Campuses including Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, Fleming College, and Western University. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry attended, along with several organizations including Wildlife Preservation Canada, Pollinator Partnership, the Ontario Greenbelt Foundation, and Hydro One.
The purpose of the workshop was to bring together Bee City Canada affiliates, volunteers, and supporters, to network, share knowledge, and celebrate successes. The success of the bee city movement is a result of the commitment and action taken by all of these passionate people who continue to support, protect, and raise awareness for pollinators.
The morning began with an introduction from OMAFRA facilitator Helen Scutt, opening remarks by Bee City Canada Director Shelly Candel, and an important opening welcome from Anishinaabe cultural consultant, Kim Wheatley. Kim also provided closing remarks reminding us to ensure inclusivity in every effort, inviting people to the table whose voices are largely unheard.
Included in the morning agenda, several Ontario Bee Cities shared their journeys and successful bee city initiatives including Niagara Falls, the Township of King, and the City of Guelph. As the first bee city in Canada, the City of Toronto highlighted their bee city program and Pollinator Protection Strategy. Prior to the morning break, the Provincial Apiary Specialist with OMAFRA and the Vice President of the Ontario Bee Keepers Association addressed summit attendees (see Appendix A for speaker details).
Breakout Session Topics
- Education & Communication
- Community Engagement
- Celebrating Pollinators
- Sourcing Materials (plants, seeds)
- Collaboration & Partnerships
- What can Bee City Canada do for you?
Two keynote speakers from the University of Guelph immediately followed the morning break to inspire attendees for the afternoon breakout sessions. The breakout sessions were designed with participation and collaboration in mind and attendees participated in discussions and visioning at four of eight sessions of their choosing (Box 1). Sessions were primarily facilitated by Bee City Canada Board of Directors and the summit organizing team. In twenty minute intervals, participants moved between topics and shared thoughts, ideas, successes, challenges, and ways forward for bee city affiliates.
Moving Forward – Next Steps
It is important to maintain the momentum of the Bee City movement across the country. In September 2018 there are 22 bee cities, 21 bee schools, and 11 bee businesses and this number is growing. The Bee City movement is an opportunity to take action in a meaningful way to support and protect pollinators and be part of a larger community of practice that is concerned with creating positive and lasting change in the world.
Knowledge sharing between and beyond bee cities.
Education is critical to move forward and address misconceptions.
Collaboration & partnerships are vital.
Leverage existing programs and technology for messaging.
Tap into local/regional/national leadership and expertise.
Simple and consistent messages.
Be mindful of inclusivity.