Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson to hilight concerns over privatization of community pastures in SK

REGINA, SK:  The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society are pleased to join our partners in Public Prairie – Public Interest and Nature Canada to welcome Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson to Saskatchewan from June 24 to 27. The acclaimed authors and conservationists will tour the province’s southern grasslands in the company of other international conservation advocates for an event called "Prairie Passages." The group will be drawing attention to the global significance of conservation programming and bird habitat at risk on federal community pastures now being transferred to Saskatchewan.

Ms. Atwood has a great love for Canada’s birds and wild places, a bond she developed early in life on long canoe expeditions with her entomologist father, Dr. Carl Atwood.

“The ecological value of these large tracts of unbroken prairie is internationally recognized,” Ms. Atwood said. “We have heard that 16 at-risk bird species on Saskatchewan’s most critical grasslands may be losing their legislative protection and conservation management. That concerns us, as it should concern all Canadians.”

Ms. Atwood added that Saskatchewan’s prairie landscapes and rich bird life is a secret too well kept.

“This is a chance to help celebrate Saskatchewan’s grasslands as a destination, so we will be using social and conventional media to highlight the beauty of Canada’s publicly owned and managed grasslands.”

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson decided to come and see the Grasslands for themselves and find out what might be done to bring attention to the plight of these birds and their habitat now hanging in the balance.

A film crew will be filming the tour and interviewing participants as they visit the community pastures to see the birds, while speaking with grazing patrons, pasture managers, conservationists and biologists.

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson have extended invitations to Premier Brad Wall, Environment Minister, Ken Cheveldayoff and Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart to discuss protecting the species at risk on these public grasslands.

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson will speak at a banquet to be held in their honour at the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina. ($100 per plate dinner, cocktails 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27; dinner served at 7:30 p.m.)

For more information and tickets to the dinner, see PPPI website,


Gord Vaadeland, Executive Director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Saskatchewan Chapter:, 306-469-2356 or 306-469-7876 (cell)

Dr. Joe Schmutz, Board Member, Saskatchewan Environmental Society:, office 306-966-2410, home 306-382-8964

Trevor Herriot, Public Pastures – Public Interest:, home 306-585-1674

Public Pastures—Public Interest,, 306-535-9570,



Margaret Atwood is a novelist, poet, literary critic and one of the world's best known – and best-selling – authors. A Companion of the Order of Canada, and Fellow of the Canadian Geographic Society, she has written more than 40 books, including The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, Cat’s Eye and the Booker-Prize winning novel The Blind Assassin. Her most recent novels are Oryx and Crake (2003) and The Year of the Flood (2009).  Ms. Atwood is the recipient of multiple awards, medals and prizes for her writing. Among others, Oryx and Crake was short listed in 2003 for seven awards including the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Orange Prize, while Alias Grace: A Novel won the Giller Prize.

Graeme Gibson is one of Canada’s foremost contemporary writers and editors and is the acclaimed author of Five Legs, Perpetual Motion and Gentleman Death. His most recent work is The Bedside Book of Birds: an Avian Miscellany (2005), "a wonderful collection of poetry and prose, folk tales and myths, which pay tribute to our feathered friends. . . ." (Mail on Sunday (UK)). It was hailed by Globe and Mail as "the most spectacular bird book of the year".

Gibson is a past president of PEN Canada and the recipient of both the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and is a member of the Order of Canada. He has been a council member of World Wildlife Fund Canada, and is chairman of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory in Ontario, Canada.