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Jennifer Bonnell


The Clio Prizes


Jennifer Bonnell, Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia. Royal BC Museum, 2023.

Stewards of Splendour advances our understanding of relationships between humans and fauna in the place known today as British Columbia, home to the greatest biodiversity in Canada. Bonnell builds on previous scholarship that examined specific aspects of human efforts to manage wildlife in “super, natural British Columbia,” to produce a highly-readable and long-overdue survey of continuities and changes over the past 250 years. In this socio-political and environmental history, Bonnell employs the frame of “stewardship” to craft a thoughtful, thorough overview of multiple and overlapping regimes of interest in and jurisdiction over “wildlife.”  After an historical overview of Indigenous wildlife stewardship, Bonnell tracks settler society’s successive preoccupations with a range of species over time, and documents Indigenous Peoples’ consistent efforts to maintain their own legal orders in relation to non-human animals. Bonnell constructs a multi-perspectival narrative that includes a wide range of actors who have worked in different ways to understand, manage, and conserve fauna in BC, including Indigenous Peoples, hunters and anglers, naturalists, scientists, industrial organizations, government policy-makers, and non-profit organizations.

Bonnell incorporates multiple ways of knowing by drawing on perspectives from individuals with vast experience on the land over time, Indigenous knowledge keepers who have shared oral histories, and “two-eyed seeing” studies that employ both Western science and Indigenous knowledge systems.  Bonnell then shows how conflicting attitudes, values, and beliefs contributed to diminishing wildlife habitat and populations. Thoroughly researched, Stewards of Splendour draws extensively on unpublished government papers and reports plus nearly 80 interviews conducted with experts, observers, and interested parties. It also includes numerous features—such as photographs and illustrations, maps, graphs, an extensive glossary, and sidebars that profile particular species, individuals, and initiatives—that increase its accessibility and value to a wide-range of audiences.