RCE Saskatchewan - 2023

Songs for Nature
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Songs for Nature
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Saskatchewan
Contributing organization(s) : 
Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Campion College at the University of Regina
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Dr. Glenn Sutter
Organizational Affiliation: 
Curator of Human Ecology, Royal Saskatchewan Museum
Dr. Katherine Arbuthnott
Organizational Affiliation: 
Emeritus Professor, Campion College
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Monday, March 20, 2023
each camp and the associated research helps to reinforce the importance of outdoor education programs
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Royal Saskatchewan Museum, 2340 Albert St., Regina, Canada, S4P 2V7
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Songs for Nature program has offered multi-day retreats at various locations across southern and central Saskatchewan. That part of the province consists of sparsely populated prairie, aspen parkland, and boreal landscapes, with a temperate climate that tends to be arid in the southwest and local economies based on ranching, dryland farming, forestry, and mining, especially for potash fertilizer. In open areas, almost all of natural cover (mixed and moist-mixed native prairie) has been replaced with crops, putting many wildlife species at risk. Waterfowl are still abundant due to numerous wetlands that provide breeding habitat.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Along with local issues around species at risk, water use, growing inequities, and economies powered mostly by fossil fuels, Saskatchewan residents face a range of social and psychological barriers that make it difficult to foster sustainable forms of development. Known collectively as the Human-Nature split, these challenges include a pervasive focus on individualism, a penchant for consumerism and economic growth at all costs, and an abiding faith that science and technology can solve environmental problems. One way to counter these ideas and the behaviours they support is to help people deepen their appreciation for nature.
October, 2015 to March, 2023
Over 80% of Canadians and almost 50% of Saskatchewan residents currently live in urban settings, where they are largely disconnected from the natural world and prone to a range of physical and psychological stresses, a collective condition recently described as ecoanxiety. Music has proven to be an effective way to counter these stresses and create strong personal and social connections, leading to improved health and wellbeing. The Songs for Nature program aims to counter ecoanxiety and build community by offering accessible and inclusive camps and showcase concerts, by keeping fees as low as possible, and by offering a number of sponsored or discounted spots, including some earmarked for Indigenous artists.
Initiated by the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) in 2015, Songs for Nature is a nomadic outdoor education program that aims to foster personal creativity and build community by giving up to 20 artists a chance to create and showcase original nature-inspired songs. The program is also contributing to ongoing research about creativity, nature connection, and wellbeing.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Songs for Nature camps are 4-day events (Thursday to Sunday) with many moving parts, including: self-guided nature immersion exercises, facilitated writing sessions, guided hikes, visual art stations, and a public concert. There are also co-writing sessions, where everyone collaborates to create a group song, and public showcases that take place several weeks later. All the group songs have been professionally recorded and released to radio. They are also presented as lyric videos on Youtube and in a new RSM gallery called “Home: Life in the Anthropocene,” where they encourage thousands of visitors to reflect on their own connections to nature.
Size of academic audience: 
20 artists directly, 50 artists indirectly (through recording and video projects), 80-100 audience at showcases
To date, Songs for Nature camps have been held at three locations around Last Mountain Lake, once in Moose Mountain Provincial Park and Prince Albert National Park, and twice online. The camps have generated dozens of individual nature-inspired songs, 7 groups songs, and 2 peer-reviewed papers. Through mid-camp interviews and psychological surveys conducted before and after each camp, our research shows that nature connection and emotional well-being are consistently increased as people go through the program. Participants also report feeling an increased sense of community, hope, and resilience.
Lessons learned: 
Songs for Nature camps offer a wide range of activities, but participation is not mandatory and participants are not expected to leave with a finished song. This freedom and lack of pressure helps to foster creativity. It is also clear that the evening campfires encourage social bonding, and the overall experience needs to be welcoming and inclusive. To that end, each camp and showcase starts with a land acknowledgement followed by remarks from an Indigenous Elder who is invited to offer blessing and share teachings about Indigenous connections to the land.
Key messages: 
Songs are a potent form of communication that are often used to deliver or enhance cultural messages. The Songs for Nature program is designed to help people deepen their connections to nature and foster a culture of sustainability, by harnessing the power of music.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
Songs for Nature artists were invited to perform at the 2022 RCE Sask Recognition Awards event.
Songs for Nature is coordinated by the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, which is a branch of the provincial Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. Since 2016, funding for the program has been provided mostly by Environment and Climate Change Canada, with additional input from Parks Canada, Sask Energy, and Sask Outdoors.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon S4N on dock 300 dpi.jpg (1.11 MB) Group picture from 2019 Songs for Nature camp R. Hicks
Image icon S4N campfire 300 dpi(1).jpg (2.02 MB) Songs for Nature campfire 2021 R. Hicks
Image icon S4N videos in Home gallery 300 dpi.jpg (1.88 MB) Songs for Nature display in Home gallery G. Sutter
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: