Defend Our Parks? It’s Complicated

First and foremost I want to state that when speaking on or writing about this issue we must always acknowledge how the creation, maintenance, and upholding of our park system is directly related to the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people and nations.
This specific action – “Defend Our Parks” – came about when in March 2020 the United Conservative Party government of Alberta announced a plan to close or partially close 20 parks, and remove a further 164 sites from our parks system. Despite what the government says, this opens those lands up to a variety of activities, including ones that would be wholly detrimental to their standing as natural areas (oil & gas development among them).
The government has since walked back this decision.


This feels like a ridiculous thing to be concerned about when people are literally dying from racism and climate change, but I think it’s connected. And I am worried that a lot of the people and organizations who are advocating to “defend our parks” aren’t doing a good job connecting this issue to the bigger issues. In fact, many of them don’t even mention it. How does this connect to larger issues of fascism, capitalism, and white supremacy? These are systems that we live within whether we like it or not.

The Defend AB Parks campaign was successful for now, but what comes next? How do we keep the momentum of this campaign? This activism is unique and powerful because it cuts across party lines, especially in Alberta where so much of our (white settler) identity is tied up in our natural areas. Ranching and other agricultural pursuits, hunting and fishing, outdoor sports, these are all connected back to defending our parks and natural areas.
The government backed down on their original plan to delist 184 parks, but what will stop them from trying this again? They have already moved on to opening up some very sensitive areas in the southern foothills to new coal leases. Again, passing along profit to a small amount of companies to detriment of our long-term health and wellbeing. The connection between all levels of our government and private capital makes me sick. Once I saw behind the curtain (so-to-speak) I see this everywhere. This isn’t conspiracy minded nonsense, as many folks in power would have you believe. This is just how it is under our current system. It makes actions like Defend AB Parks all the more important for rallying a variety of folks to one cause. While it’s single-mindedness also misses the bigger picture and doesn’t allow for longevity, and movement building.

I believe in protecting our natural areas, but I also believe in Land Back. I believe in maintaining “green” spaces in the interest of halting climate change, but I also know that Indigenous peoples have managed our green spaces for millennium and that we white settlers are kidding ourselves when we call these places “untamed wilderness”.

This is such a huge, complex, topic. And I am absolutely not the person to break it down for you. I just want you to know that I am also confused and I am just trying to do my best. For my neighbours and for our existence on this planet. Cause y’all, the Earth itself is a lot older than us. She will change and get through this, and keep on keeping on. All this stuff we are doing to her in the name of capitalism, and consumerism, we are the ones at risk from the consequences. Our days are numbered and each of us will not face this burden equally. And that’s what really makes me so mad.

And so I turn my activism inward, and I turn it to my community, and I try to make a difference where I can.




  • Come hiking with me! “On Saturdays We Hike” is a thing I accidentally started on Instagram and IRL in August 2020. A lot of the parks, recreation areas, and natural areas that were on the chopping block aren’t close to Edmonton, but in the summer I am going to try and hit up the ones that are.
  • Learn about UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and how it relates to land use, and free, prior and informed consent.
  • Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action.


Land acknowledgements are the VERY LEAST we can do as settlers when posting pictures on social media, and hosting events (online or in person). This is not tokenism, this is the bare minimum. I really like this land acknowledgment, and I learned a lot on this site about how and why to craft a land acknowledgement. Learn about the Indigenous folks who call your part of the world home at Native Land.


READ: I initially wrote about this issue here: Defend Our Parks. There are more “Further Reading” links posted there.

SUPPORT: CPAWS has been doing a lot of work around this topic, and I encourage you to explore their site.

LISTEN: Daveberta episode 55 (June 1 2020). CN for Indigenous erasure

Guest Blog – River Valley Alliance

Two weeks ago I responded to a River Valley Alliance Instagram post asking for guest bloggers. They posted my submission yesterday.

Originally posted to the River Valley Alliance blog here on January 28, 2021

Things to Consider When Planning a River Valley Walk

My name is Lisa, my pronouns are she/her, and I run a social hiking group in Edmonton. When I started “On Saturday We Hike” back in August 2020 my mission was to get outside and explore new-to-me trails outside of Edmonton. And to share these experiences with family and friends. Once the weather started getting colder and the roads icier, I knew it would be a harder sell to get folks to drive out of town for these hikes. So I turned my gaze to our beautiful River Valley, and the trail system within Edmonton. Little did I realize in those early days, that my mission would stay the same: encourage folks to get outside AND introduce them to new spots!

We’ve got a few lifelong Edmontonians (40+ years) in the group who, every week, join us to explore a new trail they’ve never heard of let alone experienced. It can be intimidating for people to try new things, especially an activity that requires a specific knowledge base or skill set. Heading out for a hike in the River Valley in an unfamiliar area is safer and more fun when you bring a friend along. Or in our case, a whole group of friends! That being said, it’s still very important to follow the current covid protocols. Safety on the trails includes masks and social distancing now too.

Speaking of safety, the On Saturday We Hike regulars are a mix of abilities and skill levels when it comes to hiking. We tend to stick to the more accessible trails, and offer “Accessibility Notes” so hikers can gauge their comfort level with the location before attending. Important considerations for all trail users include but aren’t limited to features such as: inclines, elevation change, material of the path (paved, dirt, gravel), and parking or public transit access. Most of the trails we select don’t require specialized gear, but our less mobile attendees have found added comfort and security with poles and traction aids for their boots. Otherwise, a pair of good shoes or boots, and dressing appropriately for the weather are the basic items you’ll need to get out there and enjoy the trails!

All of the above are taken into consideration when selecting future trail locations. Again, many of our Saturday Hikers are long-time Edmontonians unfamiliar with how extensive our River Valley trail system is. This breadth can be intimidating to the new user. As the self-appointed group leader I do my best to review maps, see where friends have been walking lately, and then finally do a trial walk of the area myself! Being a privileged, able-bodied person it is harder for me to recognize all of the barriers to access that can come up for a diverse range of folks. I watch how other users are interacting with the trails, and note any potential barriers for attendees. This is an area I continue to work on, and one that is highly relevant for our community, our City, and for future trail planning.

Some of our favourite trail activities are saying hello to fellow hikers, watching for beaver activity, petting cute dogs, and listening for chickadees and woodpeckers. And of course, the companionship and socializing that has been harder to come by these past 11 months. A “hike” doesn’t have to be a technically-difficult mountain terrain. There is a lot to be gained from a leisurely walk outside in our beautiful River Valley with new and old friends.

Lisa Kercher (she/her)

One Romper, One Week


Normally, my blogs go live on Friday, but I’ve got a little bonus post for you this week. Because I did one of my fave low waste tricks last week.

If you asked me even 5 years ago if I thought a “romper” would be an integral item in my closet, I probably would have laughed. I bought this green number secondhand before my trip to Dubai in 2019, and I wear it all the time. The point of “One [insert item of clothing], One Week” is to explore the versatility in a single piece of clothing. This is one of my fave “low waste” tricks, and the best way I know how to renew my interest in my closet and remind myself that I don’t need to buy more clothes.


[ARTICLE] “How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe” by Courtney Carver (Be More With Less)

[WEBSITE] For more statistics and information on the grotesque amount of waste generated by the fashion industry, I highly recommend Fashion Revolution.

[WEBSITE] Closer to home for me, Waste Free Edmonton has some info on fashion waste as well.

[VIDEO] I like Story of Stuff videos for quick refreshers on some of the larger waste issues in our modern world. This video specifically is about microfibres in our clothes.

[VIDEO] While this video speaks directly to Europe’s fashion waste, I have a feeling there are similar issues happening in Canada & the U.S.: “Textile Mountain: the Hidden Burden of our Fashion Waste

[PODCAST] If you love fashion first, but are still fresh faced in sustainability, check out this podcast: The Wardrobe Crisis. Scrolling through all of the past episodes, she has hosted some amazing guests! Here are all the episodes tagged: “fashion + waste

[PODCAST] The Sustaining Voices podcasts covers a lot of topics, but this episode – Trimming Back Fashion’s Waste Problem – is specific to tackling the problem of fashion waste in a circular manner.

[VIDEO] And just in general, to make me really cranky, here is a video from The Atlantic on “America’s Dopamine Fueled Shopping Addiction”. American’s buy 66 clothing garments per year, which is blowing my mind!

Setting Numbers Goals

I don’t think of myself as a “numbers” gal. Math was never my strong area, and I have a hard time keeping addresses and phone numbers (and pins) straight in my head. But there is also something mentally pleasing and soothing about the straightforwardness of the data that numbers offer.

Last year I set myself a few similar goals, but I never directly called them “Numbers Goals”. This year I am giving them that label, and we’ll see what happens.

A traditional way of making goals is using the SMART system. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. 2020 was my first attempt at consciously using this method and it wasn’t that successful, or “relevant” for me. My Numbers Goals are kind of accidentally aligned with this system, so I’m interested to see how things will transpire this year under this guideline.

  • Specific – These numbers goals are very specific
  • Measurable – I will be counting hours, kilometres, books, newsletters, and dollars
  • Achievable – None of my numbers are way out to lunch, and many of them are set after considering previous years’ achievements
  • Time-bound – All of these goals are set for a one year “deadline”

I left “Relevant” out of the above list for a reason. This is the one that is most personal. I set numbers goals every year, but they tend to sit outside of my personal goals, or goals associated with my Word. Which makes no sense to me now that I write it because of course they are associated with my Word and my personal goals. My typical goals are not “SMART” I guess! It’s less important to me to link these back to my main goals, but they are still all related to each other.


Okay, let’s work on this accountability thing and put these goals OUT THERE. I want to…

  • Move my body 90km per month
  • Volunteer 20 hours per month with SACE
  • Write 12 full newsletters
  • Read 80 books
  • Donate $1800

I love the grid pages in my Get to Work Book for tracking these types of goals. Simple is better for me, and making sure everything is in the same, accessible place. I always have my GTWB with me, so it’s a natural choice. It’s kind of amusing to me to look at this page now. I noted the goals at the beginning of December, with the numbers, but I was still thinking this would be a “feelings year” so I left space to fill those in later (aka now). We’ll see what happens there. Pencil crayons help fill in the boxes once I do the thing, and it makes me super pleased to see the colours building throughout the year. But I am not married to aesthetic perfection and if it gets messed up or crossed out – like my December 2020 SACE hours did because I can’t read a calendar apparently – I’m not going to be sad about it.

I am also using Elise Cripe’s Daily Habit Tracker for a personal item that I used to have a great routine built around. Changes due to covid restrictions cancelled this routine, and I have been unable to get back on track with that personal item. It’s not a daily thing for me, but I’m hopeful that the visual cue will help me figure this one out.


I finally this year became a person who can reliably track their grocery spending! I have been trying – and failing – at this for what feels like decades. All of those false starts finally paid off. It probably helps that grocery shopping is now one of my only hobbies! All kidding aside, this is a numbers goal that I had low hopes of ever achieving. And it just goes to show that sometimes you have to stick it out for years and years before the goal is realized. This makes it feel so much sweeter. It also gives me hope for being able to track the rest of my spending more reliably, which is going to be very important to me over the next year as I work on saving my way toward some big home projects.

I plan to do a full goals update in June (gosh that feels like a hundred years away), so check back here for that progress report cause I’m sure that will be so exciting for everyone.


Elise’s habit tracker is available for free to her newsletter subscribers. Here is her website.

2020 Reflections and 2021 Goals

Y’all it’s January 1, 2021. This year is unprecedented in my personal history, but I also want to acknowledge my privilege in being able to say that. There are many folks living in countries impacted by war, genocide, slavery, meddling by the Global North, dictatorships, etc. where COVID was probably just another shitty thing in a long list of shitty things already impacting their lives. Looking at the big picture, my year was pretty decent. It was pretty great in fact.


My 2020 word was Belonging, and I created four “feelings goals” and actions to go along with those to further guide my year. I used a simple photo album to document these goals and my year, which fell apart once I ran out of pre-printed cards, and COVID picked up speed. And I wrote more about this whole process here.

One of the most important parts about setting goals or intentions is reflecting on the results. I am shit at that part. But this year, I created a whole club – with other people and everything – to help me do that. And it worked! Having that accountability and space each month to talk about goals and plans and what worked or didn’t work, and next steps, was super important. I feel like this was the first year in my life where I was able to give myself the space and time to reflect on the big goals and smaller action items. It made it much easier to move forward with successes, and cut off the things that weren’t working, or stopped making sense.

It’s been fun to look back at those goals, especially through the lens of a pandemic. In fact, the upheaval of this year has really shown me the importance of setting goals, or aspirations, or whatever you want to call them, with a flexible attitude. Having rigid goals or expectations would have resulted in big disappointment this year, but I was more than able to adjust to the reality of our new covid normal, while still maintaining the overall goal/themes I wanted to see for my year. I have added some time in my calendar to reflect more on 2020 before I jump head first into 2021, so I won’t be diving into that here. But I am always open for questions about my process!


Y’all, I 100% put way more time and effort and thought into choosing a word than probably most people. I see folks write out “Believe, I will believe in myself”. And here I have 30 google tabs open with all current and historical definitions of the word, quotes by famous people, images that are inspiring, and scratch pads filled with synonyms, antonyms, and the unintended negative consequences that may possibly arise from choosing a particular word. If that was exhausting to read, it is even more exhausting to be inside my brain.


A lot of the words I was feeling drawn to had mixed meanings, or were opposites of other words I wrote out. Close meaning “nearby” and also “not open”. Organize my home or organize in my community. I attribute some of this to my Libra nature, but most of it to the feeling of ambivalence that has come with living in (through) 2020. In our final Accountability Club meeting of the year, I told the group that it was absolutely okay to celebrate the big wins we had this year, while also mourning the immense losses. That is a really weird feeling. And it is absolutely okay to feel that weird shit.

I am bringing this weird ass feeling of ambivalence into 2021, because I absolutely do not want to get complacent and forget all the lessons I personally am taking from 2020. I am also being a little bit BOLD with this word selection, and trying to prepare myself mentally for Radical to kick my ass. I learned my lesson years ago that choosing a word is as much about inviting good as it is about navigating the unforeseen.


Last year I did feelings words for the year, and then built some actions around them. It worked out really really great. This year, I am not feeling the feelings goals. This feels like an ACTION year, like a doing year. But part of the ambivalence I mentioned earlier is that I recognize more than ever my need to reflect, pause, and slow the fuck down. My plan is to build out some active goals, while also respecting my need for radical rest.

Something specific I have already started to block out time for is a big goal I am calling “12 Projects”. A month is a good amount of time to complete a “larger” project, maybe one requiring a few hours of solid work at a time. Or weekend access to a hardware store. Or drying time in between coats. I started this list with one project around the house, and then I easily added 5 more. I wasn’t intending on it to be a 12 Projects Around The House list, and while it is so far, I still have a few spots left to fill on the list.

Using my Get To Work Book to plan out my time and my goals for the past two – going on three – years has been a huge helper. My anxiety levels go way down just looking at it. It provides a lovely guide, and I never feel guilt or obligation if I don’t check off everything on a given day. There is a calming, self-soothing feeling about adding items here. It has been a great tool for me. I have added another planner to help me out with my long term Not Ladylike Community goals. Having two books feels better for my brain than always being on the computer, but time will tell.


The photo album trend is here to stay, but I am really missing doing the journaling work that used to accompany my words. No magic solution has presented itself yet, so I am still thinking on this one. I also miss creating mini albums, so I might have to see about marrying the two. Will report back, don’t you worry 😉


My 2021 Pinterest board. Building a yearly Pinterest board around my Word is a fave tradition.

All of my musings on my past Words live on the old blog, but don’t worry I linked all of that here for you!

Belonging 2020

Current 2019

Connect 2018

Action 2017

Time 2016

Simplify 2015

Honesty 2014

This is 40 – Documented

Like every other person on this planet born from March onward, I celebrated a very Covid Birthday in 2020! I never have grand plans for my birthday, but I did want to make a spectacle out of turning 40. Ha ha ha ha. The difference between the plan in my head and the reality on the ground was night and day, but y’all I had a great birthday.

And in true Lisa fashion, I made a mini book to document it.


Here are some tips that worked for me that might work for you!

  • Only invite people that I absolutely adore and who know each other
  • Be outside as much as possible!
  • Make everyone bring their own food! (this is a COVID thing that I would love to see become a regular thing)
  • Get reassurance from a pal that my idea made sense
  • Lower my expectations, then lower them farther

If you know me in person, from my blog, or from my social media, you won’t be surprised to hear that I have FEELINGS about my birthday. My past two birthdays were so hard, for so many reasons. I was ready for this one to be the same. But it wasn’t. A lot has changed over the past year. I’ve changed. And this birthday was wonderful. What a relief to my heart.


A collage of photos of Lisa in her craft room, the table covered in colourful papers and crafting tools.

I haven’t scrapbooked a full book like this in awhile, so it was nice to flex this muscle. This book is made up of all old stuff I have in my crafting stash. I had a blast searching through all the bins in my “scrapbook studio” (HA!), and selecting a bunch of fun items to include. It measures about 5” x 7”, which is my favourite size for mini books for two reasons. One, you can print 5×7 photos to fill entire pages, and two, because one 12×12 sheet of scrapbook paper turns into four 5×7 papers! It’s just good math.

The cover is “mixed media” I guess. A combination of sprays, alcohol ink, embossing powders, and interfacing.

For this page (below) I made a pocket using some embossed vellum. Inside are printouts of the kind messages – emails, texts, DMs – I received.

My go-to scrapbooking style is a combination between telling the story, great images, and fun embellishments. I use full pages of text to tell the story, or I write directly on the photos. The photo on the left (below) was planned so I could add some text once printed.


For more reading about the Elk Island Camping portion of this birthday, click here.

This is 38 – Birthday Post & Birthday Scrapbook by Lisa (Not Ladylike Blogspot)

This is 39 by Lisa (Not Ladylike Blogspot)

If you are looking for a TRULY GREAT local scrapbook store, I wholeheartedly recommend my pals over at Treasured Memories. I got 90% of the stuff you see here from them. They are my forever fave.

My beautiful cake is from local baker Sugared & Spiced.

I encourage everyone who is traveling to national or provincial parks, to at the very least learn the names of the Indigenous folks who were pushed off that land in the name of “conservation” and “preservation of wildness” to create green tourist spaces for white settlers. This is my favourite website for learning: Native Land. Elk Island National Park is located on land traditionally occupied by the Nehiyaw-Askiy (Plains Cree), Niitsitpiis-stahkoii (Blackfoot), Michif Piyii (Metis), and is historically a gathering place for many other Indigenous Peoples.

Family Fall Adventure in Jasper National Park


I have not built many traditions for our family. It’s just not how my brain works. But we have this. I know that a lot of traditions have been upended this year because of COVID, and I didn’t realize how grateful I was for this little one of ours until we hit the road on Friday. We have been taking some version of this November trip to Jasper since 2016 (with a break in 2018). There were some changes of course to this year’s trip, but not a lot. We tend to stay in, and stay away from folks, so there were no changes there. We missed out on the cemetery wander, and our favourite pizza place was closed. But we still got pizza and we upped our game this year with a fire in our room. All said and done, our tradition remains.


For a multitude of reasons, we keep this trip to two nights/three days. That means we have a tight schedule. And yet also I hate schedules when travelling so we always just wing it! I have been traveling to Jasper for my whole life (aka 40 years), so I know what I like. And I also know there are lots of places I haven’t explored yet. As long as we’re on a trail, I’m good with whatever else comes our way on these trips. Just being here in this place is special.

Friday. Dan & I took the day off of work, which meant we were able to hit the road right after picking Lucas up from school. Getting a head start on the road felt like such a treat.

Saturday. Sleep in. Breakfast of bagels and apples in the cabin. Lucas did the dishes. We made wraps for lunch using groceries we brought from Edmonton, and packed them in our bags. One last bathroom and long underwear check, then we headed out. There is a trail that runs along the “back” of town and I absolutely love it. We jump on that and go north until it meets up with the Bighorn Trail (aka Grand Mouflon), and the Pyramid Bench trail system. The goal for today is to get to our fave place for trainspotting, and then set a new goal. After we crossed the Athabasca River at Maligne Road, we followed the trail to the Sixth Bridge (Maligne Canyon). Stopped for a quick lunch there at a picnic table, as it was very cold. Back the same way we came, except we stayed on Bighorn until we made it all the way back to town.

We each rested in our own way for the rest of the afternoon, until it was time to order dinner. Our favourite pizza place is closed right now, so we ordered from Northface instead. More resting – books, fire, Nintendo switch – until an early bedtime.

Sunday. Sleep in. Breakfast in the cabin and pack up. Check out (which was so seamless and I will chat more about this in the paragraph below). Drive up to Pyramid Lake for a hike around Pyramid Bench North. This is a really great trail system that I recommend to anyone who asks. Met up with our pals Nicole & Ian for another walk, this time down a CN road behind their home. It was a sunny gorgeous day in Jasper. Hit the road home around 2pm underneath the bluest sky. Late lunch in Hinton at the A&W. Smooth sailing the rest of the way to Edmonton.


Bear Hill Lodge, in their Heritage Cabin.

Gosh, there are so many reasons why I keep coming back to this place, and this cabin style. I recommend Bear Hill Lodge to everyone who asks. I have nothing but great things to say about them. But let’s narrow it down to the most basic basics.

  1. Layout and amenities
  2. In town
  3. Open year round

I choose the Heritage Cabin over their other options because it works best for our family. There are two bedrooms, so Lucas has somewhere private he can hang out when he doesn’t want to be with his parents (he is 15), and the beds are so comfortable. The rest of the layout is an open concept living and kitchen space. There is no large table, but we make due with the bar for our meals. Again, as this is a small cabin, the kitchen is small, but it contains all the amenities we need for the weekend. We bring breakfast and lunch groceries, and make one dinner. This saves us money, and was particularly helpful this year with COVID precautions. Making our own meals lessens the contact we need to have with folks in town, and bringing our groceries saves the local resources for the locals.

In previous years the “in town” component was more important, as it makes it much easier to walk for meals, coffee, or just to wander downtown. We have stayed in cabins outside of town before, and it just seems harder.

Coming to Jasper in November is perfection. There is a lot of snow on the mountains, and very few other tourists! We also save some money on accommodations, as the summer season is done, but skiing hasn’t opened yet. There are very few cabins that are open year round here, so Bear Hill Lodge checks all of the boxes.


I love to be up front with money! I personally think there are loads of benefits in being transparent and honest about spending, saving and budgets. But I also understand that this year especially, folks are struggling. And maybe reading about my vacation spending is not something you need or want in your life right now. If this topic isn’t for you today (or ever), this is your cue to keep scrolling! No hard feelings!

I wanted to break down my budget for this trip, because I think it often feels like a cabin in the mountains is out of reach for most folks. While we keep it pretty low cost, I am sure this is still out of reach for a lot of people. But seeing my costs might encourage some savings goals, or show some of you that a trip like this is totally within your reach.

We keep our costs down by:

– traveling in the shoulder season

– making breakfast and lunch (and one dinner at least) in our cabin

– bringing our own groceries

– limiting our activities to hiking and hanging out in the cabin (no shopping)


My family has been traveling to Jasper since before I was born. And I have been documenting my own trips, in my own ways for many years. All of my Jasper-related posts are accessible here (on my old Blog).

The creation, maintenance, and upholding of our park system is directly related to the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people and nations. Here are some articles that can expand your knowledge and awareness of this, an education that we did not and do not give our children in school.

Canada’s National Parks are Colonial Crime Scenes” by Robert Jago (The Walrus, 2020)

Rethinking the colonial Mentality of Our National Parks” by Jimmy Thomson (The Walrus, 2019)

From Parks to Prisons: Decolonization is the responsibility of people of colour too” by Shama Rangwala (The Star, 2019)

The Shady Past of Parks Canada: Forced out, indigenous people are making a comeback” by Graeme Hamilton (National Post, 2017)

Nations of Jasper welcomed back to the Park” (Fitzhugh, 2012)

Hunting in Jasper – Reconciling the National Park Idea by Kevin van Tighem (Alberta Views, 2018)

Aseniwuche Winewak Nation

Five National Parks that honour First Nations” by Hans Tammemagi (Tyee, 2012)