Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within the SCO-SOC 

The Society of Canadian Ornithologists/la Société des Ornithologistes du Canada (SCO-SOC) acknowledges that systemic racism is pervasive in Canada, and we wish to join the voices of protest that are saying enough is enough. The SCO-SOC condemns all acts of individual and institutional racism, harassment, and discrimination. We recognize, and wish to address, underlying biases in our actions and institutions that continue to perpetuate inequality. No one should feel vulnerable, voiceless, or pre-judged. No one should feel that their identity, gender, sexuality, ability, race, or ethnicity precludes them from enjoying nature in public spaces or participating in wildlife research. We have a responsibility to stand with and support our colleagues, students, and neighbours to ensure equality for everyone.


Now is the time to face inequities, both acknowledged and unrecognized, and begin embracing the changes that are necessary to remove barriers to participation, inclusion, representation, and justice. Repairing the inequities within the SCO-SOC, as well as within our broader communities, will take time to do well, and we commit to dedicating ourselves to these efforts over the long term. As such, we have formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee that has been tasked with determining both short-term and long-term actions that we can follow to support and promote the inclusion and well-being of ornithologists from groups historically denied equity in Canada.

At present, the EDI Committee is working on several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion within the SCO-SOC:

  1.  Providing a free membership program to remove barriers to entry 

  2.  Periodically featuring historically underrepresented  ornithologists in Canada on our social media outlets (more information below); 

  3. Developing clear metrics to track the effectiveness of our EDI efforts; 

  4. Surveying our membership to better understand its characteristics and needs;

  5. Introducing social and networking opportunities to support underrepresented communities; 

  6. Offering a new workshop series and a personalized mentorship program to support the career development of all students and early career researchers; 

  7. Introducing a new award to support students from underrepresented communities; and

  8.  Increasing transparency and accountability by making metrics on society membership and EDI-promoting activities publicly available. 

These activities are by no means exhaustive and will be built upon in the years to come. We welcome input from the ornithological community in Canada, so please feel free to contact us via social media (Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) or by email (nicola.koper@umanitoba.ca) with your suggestions for how we can improve SCO-SOC.

Free Membership Program

SCO-SOC recognizes the right of people from all walks of life to be involved in ornithology, the value of diverse perspectives, and that individuals may experience barriers in joining and benefitting from our society. With this recognition, we are providing free membership for all people who self-identify as being from equity-denied groups, including but not limited to: visible minorities (Black, Indigenous, and/or persons of colour), minority sexual orientations or gender identities (LGBTQ+), and individuals with disabilities. We feel strongly about this initiative and a transformation towards a more welcoming and diverse society. To apply for a free membership, please visit our membership website and check the “free membership” box , or download and fill out the Word or PDF membership application from our membership portal and email it to our membership secretary (darroch.whitaker@gmail.com). You do not need to disclose which equity-seeking group to which you belong during the application, but you are welcome to do so.

Ornithologist Features 


Calling all ornithologists in Canada who self-identify as being from equity-denied groups, including but not limited to: Black, Indigenous, a person of colour, LGBTQ2+ and/or as having a disability. The Society of Canadian Ornithologists would be proud to showcase you and your work on our social media and in our thrice annual publication, Picoides, to highlight the amazing diversity of talent that exists among ornithologists in Canada. Throughout 2021, we will feature ornithologists on our social media (Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook). At the end of the year, all featured ornithologists will appear together in an issue of Picoides

To be featured, please email your 265-character-or-less caption, including your social media handle(s) and/or website url if desired, and one to two photos or infographics of yourself and/or your research to taylorbrown@trentu.ca. Search for our hashtag #FeatureFridays to see our recent features!

If you would like advice on or assistance with your submission, please contact Leanne Grieves at grievel@mcmaster.ca.

Meet the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

Alana Westwood (she/her)

I am Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University and a settler based in Mi’kma’ki. My lab studies the science-policy interface to understand how management decisions are made, and the impacts of forestry and mining to supply evidence to maintain biodiversity. I work with Indigenous, settler government, and academic partners (including the Boreal Avian Modelling Project) to develop more inclusive tools to guide conservation and management of forest birds. I am a passionate advocate for underrepresented groups in science and strive to see a Society of Canadian Ornithologists and ornithology world where all communities are represented in leadership roles.

Where people can find me:

Instagram: @arboriphile

Professional website: www.westwoodlab.ca

Personal website: www.alanawestwood.com

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alana_Westwood

Cesar Augusto Estevo, co-chair  (he/him)

I am a Latin American and lived in Brazil my whole life before immigrating to Canada in 2017. I was a bird guide in the Amazon forest and would chase birds around the whole forest. I am currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta looking into the effects of climate change on boreal forests and its birds. As part of my work here, I have traveled through the entire province, from mountains and prairies to wetlands and dense forests of the North. My goal at the Society of Canadian Ornithologists is to build diversity and equity in our membership whilst working towards a welcoming and safe environment for underrepresented groups of bird lovers. 

Where people can find me:

Twitter: @cesar_estevo

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cesarestevo/

Personal website: www.cesarestevo.com

Janet Ng (she/her)

I am an avian ecologist with a focus on species at risk, landscape ecology, and the cumulative effects of human development and climate change.  My avian experience includes working with nightjars, raptors, and shorebirds, where this work has taken me into multiple sectors including non-profit, environmental consulting, and government. I advocate for representation within the ornithology community, as well as inclusive and safe spaces for everyone in our field. 

Where people can find me:

Twitter: @janetngbio

Leanne Grieves, co-chair (she/her)

I’m a biologist specializing in avian chemical ecology. I’m most interested in how birds use smell during social and reproductive communication. As a new postdoc at McMaster University, I am working at the Long Point Bird Observatory to characterize the chemical and microbial profiles of migratory passerines in North America. I’m queer and I strive to provide supportive mentorship to other members of the LGBTQ+ STEM community. As a member of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists’ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, my goal is to foster greater inclusivity and equity in the SCO, ornithology, and beyond.

Where people can find me:

Twitter: @LeaGrie

Personal website: www.leannegrieves.com

Lesley Howes (she/her)

As the Bird Banding Biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), I manage the Canadian Bird Banding Program. I am a member of the CWS Diversity and Inclusion network and a member of the North American Banding Council’s (NABC) Professionalism and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Sub-committee. I am interested in promoting safe, respectful and inclusive spaces for people to come together to learn about and study birds. I look forward to working on this committee and continuing to learn about issues that affect under-represented groups in ornithology.


Where people can find me:
Email: lesley.howes@canada.ca
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lesley-howes-1896a648/

Roxan Chicalo (she/her)

I am a biracial (Mexican-Canadian) wildlife ecologist hailing from Vancouver Island, BC. I’ve spent the last 8 joyous years working on a variety of avian-related research projects in the Americas and am now working towards my M.Sc. studying diet and reproduction of Canada jays in Denali National Park, Alaska. I am passionate about building diversity and equity within the field of ornithology and am excited to support these initiatives through my involvement in SCO. 


Where people can find me:

Twitter: @RChicalo

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/roxan-chicalo-abb688172

Company Profile: https://www.madrone.ca/roxan-chicalo

Research Lab Profile: https://norrislab.ca/whos-in-the-lab/roxan-chicalo/