Lifetime-Achievement Award Winners
Project: The planting of native Canadian maples—part of our natural and cultural heritage
For the last 20 years, Ken Jewett had dedicated his life and personal financial resources to the planting of native maple tree species across Canada. Through a foundation he created, Ken has given over $2.5 million to individuals and groups for planting initiatives and promoted environmental education on the importance of the native Canadian maple.
Driving through rural Ontario today, one often sees magnificent rows of tall sugar maples along roadsides, farm laneways and property boundaries. These trees come from a historic government incentive program to prevent erosion along farmland, which led to quintessentially Canadian maple-lined roads in rural Ontario. In 2002, seeing that these ancient roadside maples were in decline and at risk of disappearing, Ken founded Maple Leaves Forever (MLF). This charitable foundation supports and promotes the planting of native Canadian maples in rural Ontario—native trees being naturally adapted to local climate and site conditions, having evolved to be resistant to severe weather events and most local pest problems.
Under Ken's leadership, MLF pioneered a Thank You Rebate program for rural landowners to assist them in planting maples. Canadian-grown maples are made available for planting through 22 nursery partners. To date, over 130 000 native maple trees have been planted in Ontario through this program—equivalent to over 2000 km of maple-lined roadways and laneways. The City of Ottawa, the Townships of Clarington and Port Hope, and the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority are also Winners of this rebate in support of their efforts in native maple-tree planting.
At the national level, Ken discovered that the National Capital Commission sourced maples from Oregon for planting around the National Capital Region. He led a seven-year campaign to encourage the sourcing of native species, which resulted in the 2015 decision by the NCC to switch to native maple trees. "The maple tree, the maple leaf, maple syrup, it's part of our whole Canadian heritage," says Ken. "I saw native maple trees disappearing and being replaced by cultivars and invasive species. I've made a pledge to try and stop this, and to help farmers and landowners plant native maples along their roadsides and laneways."
Father Charles Brandt
Black Creek, British Columbia
Project: river revitalization and return of salmon stocks
Father Charles Brandt was an exceptional human being, teacher, mentor, environmentalist, and role model who devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitat.
In 1965, Father Charles moved to the Tsolum area near Courtenay on Vancouver Island and established a hermitage near Headquarters Creek, a tributary of the Tsolum River. He worked on a Pink Salmon study with Robert Bamsin and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans during the period the Mt. Washington copper mine at the head of watershed began leaching toxic copper into the Tsolum River. That this metal poisoning caused the decline of salmon stocks in the riverbed was not identified as the source of the decline until 1984, almost 20 years after the mine was abandoned. In 1997, Father Charles became a founding member of the Tsolum River Task Force, which lobbied government and established working committees to conduct research on flows, habitat, acid-rock drainage and agriculture in the watershed. After 27 years of lobbying by the Tsolum River Task Force and Restoration Society, the government of B.C. invested $4.5 million in 2009 to cover and restore the mine site. Because of the dedication of Father Charles and his team, thousands of salmon return each year to the Tsolum River.
Father Charles inspired generations of volunteers to work together to protect and preserve forests and rivers. His legacy is an enduring one—not only the life in the Tsolum River, but in the hearts and minds of those he has touched, instilling a deep reverence for all life, and teaching us to be a more benign presence on the planet. He passed away in October 2020 at the age of 97.
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.
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.
Louis Fortier, Ph.D.
Described as a visionary who was driven by big ideas, Louis Fortier provided leadership and secured funds to develop national and international research initiatives in the Arctic, including the International North Water Polynya Study (NOW), the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) and ArcticNet. His vision and influence helped engage Inuit at all levels of the research process, cross barriers among the natural, social and health sciences, and forge new partnerships between academia and the private sector. In 2007, he was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada. Louis Fortier passed away in October 2020.
Neal Jotham played a central role in the creation and adoption of international standards on humane animal traps used in the fur industry. Despite controversy, he always remained true to his goal: to improve the animal-welfare aspects of trapping. As a direct result of his leadership, the suffering of millions of wild fur-bearing animals has been eliminated.
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, O.C.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Cornelia devoted her life as a landscape architect to the field of sustainable design, and the preservation and appreciation of nature. An early proponent of green roofs, her legacy is widespread: from the Children's Creative Centre for Expo '67 in Montreal, to the National Gallery of Canada, the Legislative Assembly in Yellowknife and the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, to name a few examples. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she was called the Queen of Green, an apt moniker for a lifelong commitment to the natural world. In May 2021, she passed away at the age of 99.