Meet the finalists in the 2019 Nature Inspiration Awards.
17 years old
Vancouver, British Columbia
Rebecca's leadership and determination to create an entirely youth-led climate-justice movement in Canada has inspired thousands of youth to engage in climate action. A founding member of @sustainabiliteens, and a representative for Climate Strike Canada, she has organized several school walkouts for climate. Over 3000 youth in her hometown of Vancouver participated in the nation-wide climate strike on May 3, 2019. Rebecca also helped organize the General Strike for Climate Action in Vancouver in autumn 2019. Her commitment and efforts have caught the attention of media and Canadians across the country.
12 years old
Project: Fridays for Future Canada
Sophia's environmental lobbying to politicians began at age seven and has since taken her all the way to the US Congress with the organization Citizens' Climate Lobby. She embraced Greta Thunberg's call for youth climate action and is credited for bringing Fridays for Future to Canada—the second country to hold this movement after Sweden. Sophia has spoken at national conferences, received national media coverage and the endorsement of 100 scientists at Laurentian University for Sudbury's youth climate strikes. The art installation Parachute for the Planet, made by Sophia and her friends, was displayed in 2018 at venues including Parliament Hill.
Abhayjeet Singh Sachal
17 years old
Surrey, British Columbia
Project: Break the Divide
After visiting the Arctic at age 14, Abhayjeet created Break the Divide. This not-for-profit, which has now grown to include about 1000 members, connects students in Canada and abroad to talk about climate change and to plan community initiatives in response. His passion for the environment started in elementary school when he worked on projects about recycling and bioremediation. He has served as a BC Hydro Energy Ambassador, and has been an invited speaker at schools, universities and high-profile conferences, including the 2017 United Nation's Ninth World Environmental Education Congress.
17 years old
Vancouver, British Columbia
In 2017, Stephanie created the Sprout-Save-Share initiative to minimize waste and promote youth environmentalism. She and her team of over 50 volunteers have diverted 7000 meals from landfill by collecting end-of-day, unsold food in Vancouver and donating it to people in need. They are also working on a reusable-straw campaign across Canada. Stephanie is the co-chair of the student-led Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference, has volunteered over 300 hours to her school environmental club, has received several notable awards for environmental leadership, and was named one of Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 in 2018.
Project: Ontario EcoSchools
As an educator and nature advocate, Lindsay works tirelessly to provide nature protection and education opportunities to students, teachers and school communities. She is the Executive Director of EcoSchools, an award-winning environmental education-and-certification program that works with over 2000 schools across Ontario. During her nearly 10 years at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, she developed and delivered educational nature programs. An active volunteer, she's a founding member of the York Region Nature Collaborative and now chairs the p.i.n.e. project, an organization that fosters a connection to nature through transformative outdoor experiences.
Project: Re4m Design and Fabrication
Heather is passionate about environmental sustainability. Through her company, Re4m Design and Fabrication, Heather has diverted over 2700 kg of commercial and industrial waste from landfills. The materials are repurposed into new items, such as furnishings, fixtures and displays, that go back into the commercial sector. Through partnerships, Heather is helping other companies reduce their waste generation. She participates in local environmentally focused events, has done presentations in the community about upcycling and, for the past two years, led beach garbage clean-ups on Earth Day.
Jackie Lane Moore
Project: Zero-waste lifestyle
Through her blog on clean, healthy living (The L'Oven Life), Jackie informs others in a helpful, creative, cheerful and relatable way on how to reduce their personal impact on the environment. Striving for a zero-waste lifestyle, Jackie leads by example and positive encouragement. She's even kept her own bees for several years in order to produce her own honey. She continues to motivate others to make sustainable choices and pass these on to future generations.
Laurence Packer, Ph.D.
Project: The Packer Lab
A world-renowned scientist on wild bees, Laurence built York University's bee collection into the largest in Canada and one of the fastest-growing ones in the world. The Packer Lab has specimens from over 100 countries, representing more than 90% of the world's bee genera. It supports scientists' work to track declines and to protect wild native bees. Among his many accomplishments, Laurence spearheaded a major international effort to develop genetic barcodes for all bees on Earth. He has authored several popular books, including the award-winning Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Project: Volunteer stewardship at Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver
John Coope is driven by a passion for learning and a love of nature. Following retirement, the former chemistry professor at the University of British Columbia applied his interest in botany as founder of the stewardship group that maintains Vancouver's Jericho Beach Park. He has doggedly helped remove plant species that had overrun this well-loved urban park—starting with purple loosestrife, then moving to Japanese knotweed and wild chervil, which he reduced from about 30 000 plants to virtually none. His weekly patrols of the park inspire others to join in. He has kept detailed records, compiling an inventory of the park's 300 plant species and training much younger volunteers about the local plants. His 20 years as a volunteer are an inspiration—proving that we can all make a difference to the conservation of nature, regardless of age or ability.
Project: EcoSchools Canada
EcoSchools is the only program in Canada that certifies schools for environmental learning and action. Originally created for the Toronto District School Board, it was expanded across Ontario in 2005. In 2019, EcoSchools estimates it will certify nearly 2000 schools in 58 school boards across Ontario, engaging 50 000 students as EcoTeam leaders and members. EcoSchools offers workshops and webinars for teachers, supports school board environmental representatives, hosts an annual conference, develops educational resources, and provides grants to schools and school boards.
Project: 25th anniversary; now protecting over 13 000 acres
Founded around a kitchen table 25 years ago, this volunteer-driven not-for-profit is a land trust that has helped protect over 13 000 acres of natural lands near Orillia, Ontario. Through its innovative Passport to Nature program (adopted as a model by other land trusts in Ontario and New Brunswick), the Couchiching Conservancy coordinates about 20 events each year to introduce people to nature-themed activities. It encourages the donation of land for conservation and the conservancy's members participate in citizen-science programs, in collaboration with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ontario Parks.
Quebec Mining Association
Project: Towards Sustainable Mining
In 2014, the Quebec Mining Association (QMA) committed to participating in the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative. It requires member mines in the province to improve environmental and social practices based on 23 indicators in nine categories. These include tailings management, water stewardship, management of biodiversity conservation and greenhouse-gas emissions, and community outreach. The QMA supports, audits and advises the mines. In 2018, this effort was rewarded when all the operational mines met the 100% implementation goal.
Trans Canada Trail
Project: The Great Trail
This national network, launched in 1992, has evolved to connect more than 15 000 communities across 24 000 km. Users can walk, cycle, paddle and even snowshoe through urban, rural and wilderness areas, often crossing provincial, territorial and national parks. Since its completion in 2017 (when it was renamed The Great Trail), the focus has moved to sustainability and stewardship. Among recent initiatives are the sponsorship of over 170 community-led spring clean-ups through a grant program; signage about local flora and fauna, sensitive ecosystems, and natural phenomena; and new workshops with artist Robert Bateman to encourage appreciation of the trail's features through an artistic lens.
ZooShare Biogas Cooperative
Project: Toronto Zoo biogas plant
ZooShare is building Canada's first zoo-biogas plant. Located at the Toronto Zoo, the facility will convert zoo manure and commercial organic waste into fertilizer and into enough energy to power 500 homes. It will divert 30 000 tonnes of organic waste away from landfills each year, resulting in a 60 000 tonne reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions—the equivalent of taking 12 000 cars off the road. Through the Digest This! educational workshops, ZooShare is educating Canadian youth (over 5000 so far) on the biogas process, and empowering them to change their food-waste habits. It is also partnering with Relay Education to expand the program nationally.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Project: EnviroEd and Clean Leadership programs
Since 1988, the Clean Foundation has worked to foster the environmental mindfulness of Nova Scotia's students and teachers through EnviroEd, curriculum-linked workshops that look at such themes as energy, water and climate change. Puppet shows that transform the classroom into a forest, riverbed or wind farm have engaged more than 50 000 elementary students, encouraging empathy and problem-solving. Launched in 2017, the Clean Water School experiential-learning program takes place in the natural environment and has reached 1237 middle-school students. And, the Clean Leadership program helps students and graduates aged 15 to 30 find work in the environmental sector.
Project: Food-rescue and environmental programs
This not-for-profit started in 1985 as a two-person effort by friends Ina Andre and Joan Clayton to reclaim food being thrown away by restaurants and grocery stores. Second Harvest has now grown to rescue millions of kilograms of food annually that is redistributed to more than 370 social-service agencies and food hubs. Its website, FoodRescue.ca, connects food businesses with community agencies and also allows businesses to calculate the amount of greenhouse gases they have diverted by donating their surplus instead of sending it to landfill. In 2019, Second Harvest released The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste, the first-ever industry survey and analysis of food waste across the entire Canadian food-value chain.
Victoria, British Columbia
Project: Invention of beeswax food wrap
Abeego beeswax food wrap was invented in 2008 by Toni Desrosiers, who wanted a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap. Beeswax food wrap protects and breathes so that food is preserved longer, thereby reducing waste. The company has a zero-waste system, with trimmings from production transformed into fire starters. Abeego has truly led the way in the eco-friendly food wrap industry. For her innovation, Toni won the TELUS Trailblazer Award at the 2018 RBC Women's Entrepreneur Awards and was named the 2019 Business Person of the Year by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
CleanO2 Carbon Capture Technologies Inc.
Project: Microscale carbon-capture systems
Co-founded by a plumber and a chemist, the company introduced the world's first microscale decentralized carbon-capture system to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the commercial-heating industry. Carbon dioxide is converted into a commodity that can be used in products, such as soap. The technology (CARBiNX) has been deployed in Alberta, British Columbia and now into the United States. Each CARBiNX unit can reduce between 8 and 10 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. CleanO2 won the Best Emerging Clean Technology award at the Global Petroleum Show, and was recognized as a clean-technology champion at the first-ever Energy Excellence Awards.
Sycamore Energy Inc.
Project: Fort White Alive solar PV
Sycamore Energy brings more than 30 years of experience with solar energy for residential, commercial and agricultural uses. Based in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the company commits to awareness about sustainable energy through programs such as the installation of Winnipeg's largest solar array at Fort Whyte Alive. This project brings economic and environmental benefits to the nature centre's operations, and educates Fort Whyte's 100 000 annual visitors about solar energy. Sycamore also participates in the centre's Earth Day activities and provides financial and in-kind support for a number of Fort Whyte's programs.
Project: Tom Longboat Rain Garden and Pollinator Habitat
Canadian furniture maker Calstone stepped outside its manufacturing space to help students learn about nature and make a difference in their community. It worked with students at the Tom Longboat School in Scarborough and the local school board to turn barren land into a pollinator garden and education centre. The garden's 2300 species of trees and plants attract pollinators, including the monarch butterfly. Calstone also worked with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Toronto school board to engage industry, city government and schools. This project has become the first pilot of The Meadoway, an initiative to re-green part of Toronto into the largest urban park.
Compass Group Canada (Nature Café)
Project: Removing plastics from food-service operations
Compass Group Canada, a leader in the competitive food-and-catering industry, launched an initiative to reduce and eliminate plastics associated with its prepared food and beverages. Led by the Gourmet Cuisine team at the Canadian Museum of Nature, the company sourced new suppliers, changed packaging, introduced zero-waste options such as chinaware and silverware, as well as biodegradable take-out containers made of wheat. The company calculates these changes have prevented 6.7 metric tonnes of new plastic and 2.5 metric tonnes of recycled plastic from being used. These changes—in an industry where health and safety are critical—have started important conversations across Compass on how other business units can leverage these results.
Ontario Power Generation
Project: Biodiversity-conservation program
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) protects and maintains ecological areas under its control through a stewardship program for 31 priority natural areas. It reviews activities that affect these areas then acts to retain what is ecologically significant, restore degraded habitats, replace lost habitats where feasible and recover species at risk. OPG is investing in new technologies such as drones for aerial surveys and an electronic tracking system from Bird Studies Canada to monitor wildlife. Specific projects, such as a pollinator garden at the Darlington Energy Centre, are developed in partnership with local schools and nature clubs.
Project: Greener Apron
The Greener Apron program works across Starbucks Canada's 1500 locations to ensure that the company's operations continue on the path of sustainability. Free online education and training for employees empowers them to make sustainable choices, both at work and in their communities. Starbucks is committed to ethical supplier sourcing, and recently piloted a new eco-cup in Vancouver, B.C., as well as a strawless, recyclable lid in Toronto. It also seeks to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 and is working with municipalities across Canada to enable recycling of its cups.