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Augustana set to host Spirit of the Land Conference

Augustana set to host Spirit of the Land Conference

Conference attracts speakers representing various indigenous, ecological, agricultural, energy industry, and international perspectives.

Issues of ecology, community, spirituality, and reconciliation will be the topics of conversation at the the fifth annual Spirit of the Land conference. The conference will be held from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 at Augustana Campus.

Spirit of the Land aspires to develop a positive culture as a principal foundation to address contemporary challenges in the environmental and economical culture of Alberta. This year’s theme, “Reconciling Land, Life and Livelihood” draws inspiration from the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

“The focus is on how we reconcile our relationships between settlers and indigenous people, our relations with the land, and our economic activity with living respectfully within the gifts and limits of our precious earth,” said Hans-Dittmar Mündel, religion and global and development studies professor at Augustana.

Mündel said that the Spirit of the Land conferences over the past five years have worked on creating dialogue among a diversity of people within the community.

Kaytlin Lee, a third-year global and development studies student is taking the IDS286 Making Peace with the Land course for CSL credit. Students in the course take part in planning and organizing the conference.

“Along with my classmates, I have assisted with the conference by putting up posters, advertising at the Duggan Farmer’s Market, and baking. My role as a group leader is to help create a hospitable and welcoming environment during the conference,” said Lee.

Lee said that IDS286 is different from other classes she has taken at Augustana. “I get to learn with other students and members of the community with a variety of road trips and classroom activities,” said Lee. Lee said it is refreshing to participate in such a unique class.

Lee said that the topics discussed at the conference are important because they affect everyone’s lives in different ways. “It is important to discuss these issues with the people around us in order to bring about change in our lives and the world,” said Lee.

Carley Angelstad, the assistant program coordinator for Spirit of the Land, first attended the conference in 2013 where she was introduced to a “community of people and ideas that nurtured the soul”.

“The conference gives students and the community an opportunity to interact with a number of incredible activists, environmentalists, economists and leaders, but it also creates a space that encourages people of all backgrounds to share their perspectives and beliefs,” said Angelstad.

Angelstad said that the conference is a valuable experience for students. “You get to interact with people who are wrestling and thinking about the same issues you’re thinking about – you realize that you’re not alone in these thoughts.”

Conference speakers represent various indigenous, ecological, agricultural, energy industry, and international perspectives. This year’s Spirit of the Land speaker line-up includes:

  • Dr. Alex Wilson, community leader and professor, and the first Indigenous woman in Canada to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. Wilson is also involved in Idle No More, an organization that works to honour Indigenous sovereignty and the protection of land and water.
  • Karen Mahon, director of STAND, an organization that focuses on the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure projects while developing opportunities for clean energy solutions. Mahon is a long-time Canadian environmental activist.
  • Kim Cornish, director and founder of the Food, Water, Wellness Foundation which is dedicated to building a viable local food system that produces sustainable livelihoods, nutrient rich food, and environmental regeneration.
  • Siddhartha, founder and director of Pipal Tree, which unites the personal, social and ecological to foster sustainable development in India.
  • David Dodge, producer and host of Green Energy Futures. Dodge is an environmental journalist and a photojournalist who has worked for newspapers, published magazines, radio and was the production manager for a Canadian nature publisher.
  • Cathryn Sprague and Ryan Mason, owners of Reclaim Urban Farm, an award-winning Edmonton business with Augustana roots that is transforming urban agriculture.

For more information on the schedule or to register, visit Send questions or inquiries to

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