A natural fit

Micheline Khan (Photo by Lucy Lu)

Micheline Khan (Photo by Lucy Lu)

Ecologist Micheline Khan catalogues the sights of nature and the diversity of those who explore it.

I have always been fascinated by nature. I would venture into the woods near my childhood home, teeming with life, reeds tall and stately and standing guard over marshy ponds, salamanders creeping under dark, dank rocks as songbirds soared and dipped with an exhilarating freedom. It was natural that I would become an ecologist, that I would make a space for myself where there were few others who looked like me. I remember the first time I did field work in Algonquin Park, I all but forced two graduate researchers to let me volunteer with them. The curious, sometimes derisive stares when we went into town did nothing to dampen my resolve. I didn’t quite fit the mold, to some. The researchers, however, recognized a kindred spirit and welcomed me into their homes. As we ventured out into the forests and onto the lakes with our canoes, I began to appreciate and be in awe of how tremendously vast these spaces were.

My goal then and there was to make nature more accessible to underserved communities so that they know they deserve access to these spaces too. There is beauty here, undiscovered, underappreciated, in hard-to-find nooks and crannies. So, my backpack carries an old Fujifilm camera my dad gifted me; what I need to capture and convey not only the sights of nature but the diverse people who work in and explore it. I catalogue us so that younger generations will know they belong here too.

This story originally appeared in the spring 2022 issue of the Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine.

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