Abhayjeet Singh Sachal
16 years old
Surrey, British Columbia
After a journey to the Arctic at age 14, Abhayjeet created Break The Divide. This not-for-profit connects students across the world to talk about issues such as climate change and plan community initiatives. His passion for the environment started in grade school, when he worked on projects about recycling and bioremediation. As an organizer and networker, he has served as a BC Hydro Energy Ambassador, and has been invited to speak to community organisations, schools, and conferences, including the 2017 United Nation's Ninth World Environmental Education Congress.
16 years old
Delta, British Columbia
As a blogger and environmental advocate, Asha encourages others to take action about environmental issues. She established a Go Green club at her elementary school, which inspired her to start a blog, Asha for the World, that has regional and international followers. In 2016, for a roundtable with David Suzuki, she was a youth panellist at the Planet in Focus Film Festival. The Starfish Canada has recognized Asha as one of Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists under 25.
17 years old
Isabella's interest in environmental issues began at an early age. On a diving trip at age 11, she learned about the adverse effects of ocean acidification on coral. Through science fair projects, she has doggedly explored how to recycle calcium from harvested shells and return it to the sea in order to reduce acidity. Isabella received gold medals in 2014 and 2016 at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, and continues to speak about the issue of calcium depletion in lakes and oceans. She also serves as an environmental advocate on her M.P.'s Youth Advisory Council.
Rupert Yakelashek and Franny Ladell Yakelashek
14 and 11 years old
Victoria, British Columbia
In 2014, Rupert and Franny (then aged 10 and 7) learned that Canada was not among the 110 countries to have formally recognized their citizens' right to live in a healthy environment. They decided to change this. For four years, the siblings have met with scores of politicians and have written hundreds of letters, organized events and educated their peers. They have persuaded 23 municipalities to make municipal Environmental Rights Declarations, and have been active in provincial and federal campaigns to adopt Environmental Rights Bills. Locally, they support campaigns to reduce the use of plastics, and have raised funds to help protect B.C.'s local endangered killer-whale population.
As an artist, naturalist, author and director of documentaries, Gisele Benoit has devoted her life to the protection of nature. In 1977, an artist's grant took her to Yukon. The self-taught naturalist studied moose behaviour in Parc national de la Gaspésie, Quebec, which led to an award-winning documentary aired on CBC's The Nature of Things. In 2001, she founded with her parents a wildlife sanctuary in Chapleau, Ontario, which was documented in a 13-part series aired on Radio-Canada. Her latest project is a documentary about the Canada lynx.
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
A scientist, activist and community organizer, Max Liboiron now directs a unique marine-plastic-pollution laboratory in the Geography Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Trained in biology, she moved into fine arts, cultural studies and media studies during her graduate degrees in New York City, U.S.A. Her lab monitors food webs in Newfoundland and Labrador for plastics and their associated toxicants. She has invented community-based methods and technologies to make the science accessible to non-scientists.
Miriam Diamond has dedicated her 30-year career to environmental protection as an educator, researcher, participant in public processes, and commentator. She is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, leading a lab that has discovered sources of chemical contaminants, how they move through the environment, and how ecosystems and people are exposed to them. A frequent commentator for national media, she is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
A Professor Emeritus of Yukon College, Dave Mossop has dedicated more than four decades to research, nature conservation, education and advocacy. The wildlife biologist has been at the forefront of national and international efforts to protect endangered species, especially the Peregrine Falcon, whose recovery is one of the great conservation achievements of the 20th century. Through his inspiration and direction, Yukon's first interpretive site was established on the Dempster Highway, and he has contributed to numerous other noteworthy projects over his illustrious career. He is a founding member of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and continues to share his passion for nature, especially birds, as an advisor and mentor for biodiversity research and educational outreach.
Fatal Light Awareness Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada
FLAP works to safeguard migratory birds in the built environment through education, policy development, research, rescue and rehabilitation. Its formal rescue initiative in Toronto for birds that collide with lit office towers or with mirrored commercial buildings was a world first. In 2006 and 2007, Toronto City Council adopted FLAP's recommendations to develop a light-pollution bylaw and guidelines for existing buildings and new construction to prevent bird collisions. Dozens of cities have since followed Toronto's lead. FLAP developed BirdSafe, a building-standard and risk-assessment system for identifying the threat level that individual building façades pose to birds. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, FLAP has recovered tens of thousands of birds, with over 20 000 able to be released back into the wild.
Green Economy Canada
The mission of Green Economy Canada (formerly Sustainability CoLab) is to launch, grow and promote a network of local hubs that engage businesses to drive the sustainable economy. Since 2008, when the first Green Economy Hub was piloted, there are now seven hubs across Ontario, with close to 250 participating businesses. Collectively they have reduced over 47 000 tonnes of greenhouse gases—the equivalent of taking over 10 000 cars off the road for one year.
Nova Scotia Nature Trust
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
For almost 25 years, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust has been at the forefront of private land conservation in Nova Scotia, working with private landowners and other partners. The Nature Trust has protected over 90 properties, encompassing over 11 000 acres of unique natural landscapes across the province. Their most ambitious campaign to date is the 100 Wild Islands Legacy Campaign to protect an entire archipelago of wild islands on Nova Scotia's eastern shore.
Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCSC)
This national organization works with partners, government decision-makers, corporations, indigenous and grassroots leaders, and volunteers to fill gaps in conservation science. Since 2011, WCSC has been working to protect bats in western Canada from white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that has killed millions of bats. Bats are worth billions of dollars to the economy through their consumption of forest and agricultural pests, maintenance of ecosystem health and facilitation of organic farming.
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI)
ABMI tracks changes in Alberta's wildlife and habitats across a region of 660 000 square kilometres. Before ABMI's inception in 2007, Alberta had no organized, provincial-scale biodiversity-monitoring program. Also, existing data varied widely in scope, methodology and rigour. ABMI delivers publicly available data and derived data products (reports, summaries, interactive visualization tools, etc.) on more than 3000 species, as well as on human footprint and native land cover. These data are used to inform management decisions locally and provincially.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
As Canada's only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of public land, CPAWS has influenced some of the most significant decisions in nature conservation and management of protected areas over the last five decades. CPAWS has demonstrated the impact that environmental activism can have on conservation policy-making, with nationwide campaigns including Nahanni Forever and Boreal Rendez-vous. CPAWS's leadership, policy expertise and lobbying efforts led to the Government of Canada announcing $1.3 billion dollars for conservation in the 2018 federal budget—the largest investment in conservation in our nation's history.
In 2014, Humber College created its Office of Sustainability, but the college's sustainability efforts date back to the early 1990s. Among the college's initiatives are their Integrated Energy Master Plan, with goals to reduce energy use by 50% per square metre, 50% water use per student, and greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from a 2014 baseline; a Garden Pods project, with produce donated to the community; and participation in the World Wildlife Fund Canada's new Living Planet @Campus pilot program in Ontario.
New Brunswick Museum, BiotaNB
Saint John, New Brunswick
The New Brunswick Museum is supporting a 20-year biological inventory project (BiotaNB) in 10 of the largest protected natural areas in the province, ranging in size from 3000 to 26 000 hectares. The museum's collections provide data and assure a repository for the collected specimens. Now halfway through the project, which continues until 2028, 50 to 70 scientists and others participate annually in an intense 14-day BioBlitz that has generated 39 peer-reviewed publications. In 2017, BiotaNB was one of the official initiatives of Bioblitz Canada 150.
A for Adventure
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
A for Adventure uses social-media platforms to tell stories about nature that inspire and enable Canadians, especially children, to enjoy the great outdoors. A recent project of note involves working with federal and provincial partners, including Parks Canada, to create the A for Adventure camping program for newcomers. This innovative program helps those new to Canada discover how easy it can be to experience the natural beauty of their new country.
Frontiers North Adventures
Winnipeg and Churchill, Manitoba
For three decades, this family-owned tour operator has worked to protect and preserve polar bears. It combines ecotourism experiences with ongoing support for conservation research efforts. Frontiers North was the first major sponsor of Polar Bear International (PBI), and as part of that long-standing partnership, created Tundra Buggy One—a mobile broadcast and research centre—exclusively for PBI's use. Buggy One has tools and equipment to study the bears and to broadcast live from the remote tundra. To date, this program has shared information on Churchill's polar bears and their conservation with thousands of viewers around the world.
Inhabit Media is the only independent, Inuit-owned publishing house in Nunavut. It publishes titles that preserve Inuit traditions and knowledge. With Inuit culture intrinsically linked to the environment and the land, most titles focus on nature and related connections. In 12 years of operation, Inhabit has published more than 100 titles in four languages (French, English, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun) in all genres—from children's books to scientific information to graphic novels. These ensure maintenance of Inuit traditions and knowledge, including links to the unique northern environment.
The Plastic Bank
Vancouver, British Columbia
In 2013, entrepreneur David Katz founded The Plastic Bank to stop ocean plastic pollution while providing alternative livelihoods for the poor by monetizing plastic waste. The Plastic Bank is now active in Haiti, Brazil and the Philippines. Plastic that people collect is accepted as a currency that can be redeemed for cash, or saved for items such as education, healthcare insurance, or food. All actions are tracked with a system developed with IBM. Each collection centre provides an income for approximately 100 recyclers and their families, so each centre affects about 500 people. The Plastic Bank has prevented over 4.5 million kilograms of plastic from entering the ocean around Haiti and the Philippines alone.
Since 2012, CN has been the leading non-forestry tree-planting company. Working with Tree Canada, CN has planted 1.7 million trees. Tree planting offsets the use of wood in rail operations and the company's carbon footprint. The average car produces 4.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide; the trees that CN has planted capture roughly 16 296 tonnes of CO2 per year—comparable to taking 3500 cars off the road! The company's EcoConnexions from the Ground Up program also helps Canadian municipalities take part in community tree-planting and greening initiatives. Since 2012, this program has supported the planting of 112 492 trees and shrubs through 199 grants to Canadian communities.
Founded in 1976, Emterra is a family-owned and operated waste-resource management company. The company services over 80 communities that include more than 10% of Canada's population. Emterra's philosophy is to enable a circular, zero-waste economy, and the company's operations include extensive recycling and reclamation activities and expertise. Most recently, the company worked closely with Tim Hortons and Keurig on the recycling of packaging.
IKEA Canada's sustainability strategy is focussed on transition to a circular business model. As products are made to be more durable, recyclable and repairable, the company has also instituted takeback programs for applicable components (such as batteries). IKEA Canada also invests in offset strategies, such as solar roof panels in all Ontario stores, and two wind farms. IKEA aims to inspire action among customers by providing free electric-charging stations at its stores as well as demonstrating how to incorporate sustainability and connect with nature at home.
Founded in 1981, Canadian furniture manufacturer Keilhauer is internationally recognized for its sustainably-designed furniture. The company's criteria for environmental design prioritizes lifecycle thinking and a commitment to sustainability. Keilhauer's furniture is FSC-certified and includes recycled content. The company sources raw materials from sustainable sources and completes material assessments to understand and eliminate human and ecosystem impacts. The end products are even shipped in blankets to minimize packaging.