Friday, April 17, 2015

“Grasslands” helping to build momentum for the cause

Candace Savage addresses the crowd (image courtesy of Branimir Gjetvaj of
Last night at Saskatoon's Frances Morrison Central Library, a group of PPPI volunteers co-hosted a showing of “Grasslands,” the stunning documentary by Ian Toews highlighting our grassland at risk in this part of the continent. PPPI and Ian’s company, 291 Films, worked with Yvonne Siermacheski, Film Specialist at the library, who did much of the organizing, media contacts, and promotion for the event. She was a delight to work with and by the end of the evening had become an ardent PPPI supporter.

We estimate we had 250 people come out. The room was full to the brim, with people standing in the hall and outside the door listening to the film and presentations.

Branimir Gjevaj’s slide show on the PFRA pastures was a fine warm up, then Yvonne introduced the film. Afterwards, Candace Savage and I each did some talking--me a little too much probably, but people were good enough to sit still for a bit of an update on the PFRA pastures and a letter-writing campaign pitch.

After some questions and door-prizes, we retired to the adjoining room for a letter-writing session with cookies and coffee. That is where once again I saw how this film is helping to bring out new people and connect them to the issues surrounding our public grasslands now being placed at risk.

I spoke to a young grad student who works on sustainable public policy in a post hydro-carbon world. He had lots of ideas and may be in touch with us. Two pasture patrons from the Dundurn PFRA pasture were kind enough to introduce themselves. We chatted about the problems they are facing as they near the 2016 deadline for their pasture to transition. It will not be easy or cheap and they fear they may lose many of their existing patrons.

I spoke with a retired public servant who helped establish grazing co-ops in Saskatchewan. He was fervent with ideas and thoughts on how a co-operative approach could be the solution. And I spoke to a wildlife veterinarian who works on the prairie dogs and other wildlife at Grasslands National Park.

So many people with knowledge and passion for our prairie places. It was a night for engendering a spirit of hope and possibility. 

The news is getting out there: Saskatchewan people love and deeply value their publicly-owned and managed grasslands, and they want to ensure that a publicly-accountable system will be in place to ensure that they are protected and managed well for generations to come.

The film is available for screening in your town too. If you want to arrange a public showing, you can contact PPPI at and we will help you get in touch with 291 Film Company.

packed house at the Frances Morrison Library last night (image courtesy of Branimir Gjetvaj of

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