Parks and Protected Areas Research Group Newsletter

    Volume 1, Number 2

Don Carruthers Den Hoed, Alberta Parks and Sonya Jakubec, School of Nursing and MidwiferyMRU
In This Issue
  •  June 22nd Presentation
  •  PPARG Goals and Scope     Revised 
  •  Up and Coming PPARG       Activities
Check Out Our web page
IES Website

Contact Us




Nursing in Nature: Research on the health and parks/environment connection
When a guy who worked in parks for 24 years became an Adjunct Professor at the Mount Royal University School of Nursing and Midwifery, most people scratched their heads. But nursing is a perfect fit for parks in the Healthy by Nature era – and the research collaboration of Don Carruthers Den Hoed, Head of Inclusion and Public Engagement - Kananaskis Region - Alberta Environment and Parks, and Sonya Jakubec, Associate Professor of Nursing, highlights the benefits for knowledge making and practice.
In this research talk Don and Sonya explored how parks/nature can link to health and wellness measures through an overview of the field, their innovative collaboration, and an examination of three specific recent projects that include(d) support from Alberta Addictions and Mental Health, Alberta Parks, Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary.  Specifically discussed were, a study that examined “the mental health and wellbeing impacts of inclusion in nature for adults with disabilities and their caregivers.”
They also described two studies-in-progress addressing questions about “the place of parks and nature for those at end of life and their caregivers” and “the role of specially-designated places on wellness.” 

For more information on the work in progress and links to their publications see the program webpage:

Understanding and evaluating user motivations and expectations Fish Creek Provincial Park


The PPARG has an opportunity to work on an emerging protected areas research project close to home.  Mike Quinn, AVP Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement at MRU, in collaboration with Don Carruthers Den Hoed and Travis Sjvold from Alberta Parks (Kananaskis) have been awarded a grant from the Alberta Parks Research Enhancement Fund to conduct a project in Fish Creek Provincial Park.  The project title is: Understanding user motivations, knowledge, and service expectations in an urban provincial park, and building a foundation for evaluating public engagement with Alberta Parks.  Urban Provincial Parks offer a unique opportunity for people to connect with nature close to home and more frequently than most sites in the Provincial Park system. These sites also present complex issues in management, planning, enforcement, and program design and branding. The project will develop and implement a survey to address questions such as: Who is coming to this site/Park? Why? When? How did they access it? Where else do they go for similar experiences or activities? Do they know they are in a Provincial Park? and what that means?
What services offered by Alberta Parks are they aware of? What services do they expect or want? Who do they think funds these programs? Are these users aware of/influenced by work of cooperating association in the park?  And, as a foundational study: “What research methods are effective in understanding these users? What questions help inform management decisions?”  If you are interested in learning more about the project and perhaps being involved in the study, please contact Mike at

PPARG Meeting June 22, 2015

Click for article
Members in Attendance
Barb McNicol (Chair), Assistant Director of IES, Earth Sciences Department, MRU
Paris Afshordy (Note-taker), Institute for Environmental Sustainability, MRU
Michael Quinn, AVP Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement, MRU
Tracy Lee, Miistakis Institute, MRU
Sonya Jakubec, School of Nursing and Midwifery, MRU
Don Carruthers Den Hoed, Alberta Parks
Anna Korwin, Bisset School of Business, MRU
Dorothy Hill, Department of Biology,  MRU
Kettie Rettie, Department of General Education, Adjunct, MRU
Dianne Draper, Department of Geography, University of Calgary
Jovan Simic, Alberta Parks
Winston Jamieson, MRU

Members in attendance at the June 22, 2015 PPARG meeting had discussion around existing goals and objectives of the Parks and Protected Areas Research Group.  These remain flexible and adaptive but guide the direction and actions of our collective membership. All discussion and changes are listed in bold for absent members to identify. For those unable to attend the meeting, if you could provide any feedback or comments about these goals and objectives, please send to

 PPARG Goals
  • interface between professionals and practitioners
  • create interdisciplinary professional development
  • promote leadership in policy and practice
  • act as an incubator for new ideas about protected areas
  • maintain a directory of interested researchers
  • provide links for moving theory into practice
  • foster interest in both social science and environmental research
  • provide knowledge dissemination related to goals
  • foster partnerships and advocacy for good science

Thematic Scope of PPARG Research
  • parks and the educational role and attitudes towards wildlife
  • partnerships and corporate actors
  • environmental sustainability projects
  • human use management and visitor experiences
  • health and wellness of parks
  • biodiversity and ecological conservation
  • landscape interactions and integration of land-use issues

Geographical Scope
  • no limitations to geographical scope of research but to foster an interest and place emphasis on research about Alberta parks and protected areas
  • emphasize Eastern Slopes


Photo Credit: Kerri Martin
Future Activities of the Group
  • explore the possibility to act as a repository for information, data and translation into usable formats (this previous PPARG goal was moved to be listed as a possible future activity)
  • this may require partnership with an existing library since it may go beyond the scope and abilities of the membership

Up and Coming PPARG Activities

We are planning for the Under Western Skies conference.  Under Western Skies 4 takes place Sept 27, 2015 at Mount Royal University. Please refer to the website for previous conferences and more information about session offerings.

PPARG would like to organize some form of activity about parks and protected areas for the conference.  Suggestions for activities were; one or multiple sessions based on member research; a panel session about parks; a panel and paper session; global café(s); lightening sessions on thematic topics; sessions specifically about K-Country; sessions specifically focused on the Eastern Slopes; a social event for connections and interactions with others.  Suggested possible themes are:
a. Marine protected areas
b. Protected areas and climate change (globally with emphasis on the North)
c. Panel discussion on K-Country: climate change effects in Eastern Slopes (discussion about integrating natural resource use, industry and decision-making).

Those interested in contributing to the proposal are asked to contact Kathy Rettie,

We are also interested to submit a group research proposal to the Institute of Environmental Sustainability Research Grants (either the Fall or Winter reviews). IES group grants can be awarded for amounts of up to $20,000. Funding could be used for hiring a project manager to oversee member research projects.  Members are asked to send any research interests and project ideas to

One suggestion for a group IES research grant proposal, discussed during the meeting, is for a multi-disciplinary approach to issues associated with ‘Parks and conservation of the Eastern Slopes.  It was suggested that this could coincide with the K-Country 40 year anniversary and might well evolve into a SSHRC Grant or book project. 

At the time of this newsletter, one other project proposal theme has been received from Anna Korwin-Kowalewska, Bissett School of Business, MRU.  The suggested group research topic is:  ‘Educational campaigns aimed at raising awareness of large carnivores among general public/visitors and perceptions of the educational efforts' effectiveness’. Anna is convinced that parks (provincial/national) have a big role to play and various stakeholders should be interviewed.  She has already gathered much information from sources in the US, Canada and Europe on attitudes towards large carnivores that would be helpful.

Canada’s Newest National Park
For several months each year, Bathurst Island is cloaked in perpetual darkness. The sun simply doesn't breach the horizon. Until the summer, that is, when the balance shifts and the island is bathed in light for 24 hour days.
There aren't many places like this on earth, and it just so happens that this unique environment in Canada's high arctic is now the site of Qausuittuq, Canada's newest national park. Pronounced "Qow-soo-ee-tooq," it's not quite the most northern national park in the country, but it's close—beat only by Quttinirpaaq National Parkon Ellesmere Island, near the world's most northern settlement of Alert.

The creation of the park not only provides a sanctuary for the endangered Peary caribou, but ensures Inuit will be able to continue their subsistence hunts within the park. And the hope is it will become a viable destination for tourism, too.

Qausuittuq, which means the "place where the sun doesn't rise" in Inuktitut, is Canada’s 45th national park

"It's great for travelling overland. There's no bushes, no trees to get in the way. All they've got is valleys and rivers and lowland areas," said Paul Amagoalik, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA)'s community director for Resolute Bay, and QIA spokesperson for the national park, which encompasses more than 11,000 square kilometres of Arctic lands and waters.  "You've got caribou, muskox, polar bears, foxes, owls, migratory birds and 24 hour sunlight in the summertime, 24 hour darkness in the middle of winter.  (June 25 2015, Braga, Motherboard in GeogNews, UVictoria).
unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp