The Toronto Zoo in Toronto, Ontario, announced the appointment of Jennifer Franks as the director of indigenous relations. This is a new position for the Toronto Zoo, and the first of its kind in any Zoo in North America, which will help further our efforts in bridging social and conservation narratives to effect change.
“We are so delighted to share that Jennifer Franks has joined your Toronto Zoo team as the director of Indigenous relations,” said Dolf DeJong, chief executive officer at the Toronto Zoo. “We are grateful for her leadership as we work to support the truth and reconciliation calls to action and serve traditional territory holders and urban Indigenous community members. She will play an important role in helping us evolve to better reflect our cities diversity while exploring new ways to deliver on our mission of connecting people, animals, and conservation science to fight extinction.”
Franks is Red River Metis and a citizen of the Manitoba Metis Federation. She has a graduate degree in community and regional planning and has worked in the non-governmental and public sectors throughout her career. Most recently before joining the Toronto Zoo, Jennifer was the lead in advancing Indigenous place-making and place-keeping initiatives with the City of Toronto’s Indigenous Affairs Office. She has worked closely with Indigenous elders, community leaders, youth, knowledge keepers, artists, designers, and land stewards on a wide range of programs and initiatives, including the development of the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
“I am excited to embark on this journey as director of Indigenous relations at your Toronto Zoo,” said Franks. “My goal and hope is to build and strengthen partnerships between the Zoo and Indigenous community and elevate Indigenous stories and traditional knowledge in the care and stewardship of our animal and plant relatives at the Zoo.”
This new role will also oversee the Toronto Zoo’s Turtle Island Conservation (TIC) Program. TIC respectfully shares the hopes and goals of First Nation partners in its commitment to the preservation of biodiversity. TIC partners with First Nation communities to preserve community knowledge and significant natural and cultural landscapes.
Photo Credit: © Nadya Kwandibens, Red Works Photography
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