About Me

I am a Métis Indigenous woman from Northern Saskatchewan, currently living and working on Treaty 6 territory and my ancestral homelands. I formally began my journey into the world of IIC and animal communication in the summer of 2020, when I began working for Dr. M.J. Barrett as a research assistant. It was while working with M.J. that I began to experience a merging of worlds, as it were, and a realization that the traditional Cree and Métis stories I grew up hearing about tricksters and other ancestors co-existing with more-than-human animals are largely not metaphorical in nature. My ancestors could, in fact, communicate with animals. What’s more, I was coming to understand that this is a skill that could be re-learned presently. This realization has led me on a journey of discovery, reflection, and now, a Masters thesis where I hope to explore the possibility of re-learning this skill for practical purposes in present-day.

About My Research

As climate change and environmental destruction continue to progress at a rapid rate, Indigenous peoples and their more-than-human kin are among those most vulnerable to these changes. Solutions to this global scale ecological collapse continue to pour in, and while a growing number of said solutions were developed in partnership with Indigenous peoples and their ways of knowing, few, if any, actively involve more-than-human animal kin. I propose the method of Intuitive Interspecies Communication (IIC), applied in a partnership between Indigenous land managers and animal communicators (ACs), as a possible response to this need. This project seeks to answer the question, how are animal communicators (ACs) engaging with wildlife?

Upon answering this question, I will conduct in-depth community engagement sessions with our partners Saskatchewan Aboriginal Land Technicians (SALT). I hope to present the data I collect throughout my project, then discuss the possibility of a partnership with ACs, given the ways ACs are actively engaging with wildlife as a response to environmental crises and/or human-animal conflict. I will answer these questions by first summarizing three to five case studies that illustrate work that has already been conducted by ACs and wild animals. I will then guide the community engagement sessions attended by my advisory council members (SALT employees, land managers, and Elders).

Tell me Your Wildlife Communication Story!

I am seeking animal communicators to share your stories of these communications as case studies (in-depth studies) about wildlife. Participation in this project is anticipated to take 7-21* hours of your time. If you are an animal communicator who meets the criteria listed below, I would love to hear from you!

  • You are a professional animal communicator, with a high level of skill and competence in your practice (determined by good reputation, consistent practice, recommendations from other ACs, and the researchers’ intuitive assessment).
  • You adhere to ethical guidelines, and report authentic experiences.
  • You have communicated with a wild animal using IIC as a primary tool to address a problem or topic relevant to land managers (e.g., environmental degradation, pollution, habitat/biodiversity concerns or needs, disease, lifestyle choices, etc.)

If you believe you meet these criteria and may be eligible to participate in this research, please contact me at sydney.kuppenbender@usask.ca and we can discuss next steps together. You may also review the case study framework document linked here, if you are interested.

 *The amount of time needed to complete this project will be dependent on factors such as, the information you have readily available, the turnaround time for revisions of the document, whether you and the researcher work together on the first draft of the document or if you fill in the first draft independently. 

 This study has been approved by the University of Saskatchewan Behavioural Research Ethics Board.


My research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s Scholarship, the Indigenous Graduate Leadership Award from the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, and the Equity Scholarship from the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan.  



“Bringing Animal Voices to the Table: Re-Claiming Kinship Ties for the Flourishing of All Beings”.  Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) Indigenous Graduate Gathering, at Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Saskatchewan, Canada. June 2022.

“Bringing Animal Voices to the Table: Interspecies Methods in Land Management". Saskatchewan Aboriginal Lands Technicians (SALT) Waste Management Conference, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. March 2022.

“No Longer Under the Radar: Animal Communicators and the Growing Outer Edges of Western Science” (with Dr M.J. Barrett, Dr Carolyn Hoessler, et al.). Society for Human Ecology (SHE) XXIV International Conference, Virtual presentation. October 2021.

“Interspecies Methods in Natural Resource Management: Relational Practices in Vulnerable Communities” (with M.J. Barrett, PhD). Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC) Annual Conference, Virtual poster discussion. June 2021.

“Interspecies Methods in Natural Resource Management: Relational Practices in Vulnerable Communities” (with M.J. Barrett, PhD). American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, Virtual poster discussion. April 2021.

“Interspecies Methods in Natural Resource Management: Relational Practices in Vulnerable Communities”.  Canadian Indigenous Science and Engineering Society (.caISES) Fourth Annual National Conference, Virtual presentation. March 2021.