Treasure, conflict, and survival in Canada’s peatlands – by Krista Hessey (Global News – March 4, 2023)

iking in the Hudson Bay Lowlands is like a game of hopscotch — in a swamp. A tapestry of colourful mosses indicates where it’s safe to step: the green and white spots are drier, while the rich red and copper patches can swallow you whole.

Aside from the stunted black spruce trees that dot the watery landscape, it doesn’t look like there’s much here. It’s quiet, except for the constant buzzing of mosquitoes and black flies. But Michelle Kalamandeen didn’t come all this way for what’s on the surface.

Standing only about five feet tall, she uses her entire body to shove a long metal instrument into the spongy ground. Using a sledgehammer, another team member thumps the pole downward inch-by-inch. Until, eventually, it stops.

“The blade is going to cut the soil and then we’ll pull it up,” Kalamandeen says, turning the handle on top of the pole 180 degrees. What emerges is a perfectly cylindrical soil sample. Except this isn’t your average soil, it’s peat.

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