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  6. Celebrating Canada’s nature leaders: Finalists for the 2021 Nature Inspiration Awards

Celebrating Canada’s nature leaders: Finalists for the 2021 Nature Inspiration Awards

Winners to be announced November 24, 2021

Ottawa, September 23, 2021—The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences, is pleased to announce the finalists and the Lifetime Achievement recipient for its 2021 Nature Inspiration Awards. The 24 finalists will be celebrated and winners announced during an online ceremony hosted by the museum on November 24.

These nature leaders—ranging from individual youth and adults, to not-for-profits and community groups, to sustainable businesses—show leadership through innovative projects that connect Canadians with the natural world.

Their efforts cover broad initiatives that encompass biodiversity and conservation, environmental education, and sustainable practices. Among the finalists are youth who advocate for clean water and healthy aquatic environments, as well as adults who galvanize others to protect ecosystems and to conserve species. Not-for-profits show leadership in education to preserve and promote biodiversity, and the protection of habitats by engaging the community. The businesses being recognized show innovation with the development of “green” products, as well as environmental stewardship programs.

The shortlist for the 2021 awards comprises finalists in six categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Adult, Not-for-Profits (small to medium), Not-for-Profits (large), and two new categories, Sustainable Businesses and Community Action.

In addition to the category finalists, the museum is honoured to announce this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award— philanthropist and nature advocate Ken Jewett, who resides in the southern Ontario community of Mulmur. He has dedicated his time and personal financial resources over 20 years for planting initiatives and environmental education about native maple trees. Through his Maple Leaves Forever Foundation, about 130,000 native maple trees have been planted in Ontario, in partnership with nurseries and local municipalities—reinforcing the importance of native species to healthy ecosystems.

"These awards are taking place at a time when the pandemic is reminding us how much we need a responsible connection to nature for our health and wellbeing,” says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature and Chair/ex-officio member of the selection jury. “All the finalists have something to offer through their innovations, leadership and engagement. We congratulate each of them and look forward to sharing their achievements through our national Nature Inspiration Awards.”

The museum is grateful for the support of presenting sponsor, Facebook; media partners The Globe and Mail and The Walrus, and award sponsors for each category. They are the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Youth); BDO Canada LLP (Adult); Ontario Power Generation (Not-for-Profit, small to medium); Polar Knowledge Canada (Not-for-Profit, large); Nasco Building Cleaning Inc. (Community Action) and The Mosaic Company (Sustainable Business).                                                                                     

The jury included Shelley Ambrose, former Executive Director/Co-Publisher, The Walrus; Caitlyn Baikie, Education Policy Advisor, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Carolynn Beaty, Director of Granting, The Sitka Foundation; Kevin Chan, Senior Global Director and Head of Public Policy, Canada, Facebook; Philip Crawley, Publisher, The Globe and Mail; Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo; John Geiger, CEO, Royal Canadian Geographical Society; Danika Goosney, Vice-President, Scholarships and Fellowships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director, Students on Ice Foundation;and Erica Thompson, Senior National Director, Conservation Engagement and Development, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Winners for each category receive $5,000 that they can “pay forward” and designate to a nature-related program of their choice. The Nature Inspiration Awards are produced by the Canadian Museum of Nature. Details, including profiles of the finalists and the Lifetime Achievement recipient, can be found at

Here is the list of finalists:
Youth category (aged 17 and under as of Dec. 31, 2020)

  • Margaret Krawciw, youth scientist and co-founder, ocean plastics reduction group, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Jessica Liu, entrepreneur and creator of KelpNet (biodegradable fishing net), Oakville, Ontario
  • Autumn Peltier, environmental activist for clean water, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Sarah Syed, youth scientist with bioremediation using polymers, Toronto, Ontario

Aduilt category 

  • Cheryl Alexander, photographer, filmmaker and activist for wolf conservation, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Melissa Hafting, mentor for youth and inclusivity in birdwatching, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Lisa Mintz, community organizer for environmental conservation, Montreal, Quebec
  • Sonya Richmond, nature advocate through expedition on Trans-Canada Trail, Sechelt, British Columbia

Not-For-Profit category (small/medium organization)

  • Canadian Whale Institute, whale disentanglement and conservation, Welshpool, New Brunswick
  • eButterfly, tracking of butterfly biodiversity through citizen-science, Ottawa, Ontario
  • SmartIce, monitoring of sea ice with Indigenous communities, St. John’s, Newfoundland
  • Watersheds Canada, restoration and conservation of freshwater shorelines, Perth, Ontario

Not-For-Profit category (large organization)

  • Canadian Wildlife Federation, Wild Outside leadership program for youth, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Niagara Parks Commission, floral art along the parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, ecosystem stewardship and conservation, Burlington, Ontario
  • Sheridan College Institute of Technology, native gardening to restore biodiversity, Etobicoke, Ontario

Community Action category

  • Don’t Mess with the Don, garbage clean-up in the Don Valley ravine, Toronto, Ontario
  • Kingfisher Interpretive Centre Society, salmon conservation in the Sechelt River, Enderby, British Columbia
  • Victoria Compost and Conservation Education Society, composting program to promote health soils, Victoria, British Columbia,
  • Wild About Saskatoon, community-based Nature City Festival, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,

Sustainable Business category

  • J. D. Irving Limited, sustainable forest management programs, Saint John, New Brunswick
  • Li-Cycle Corp. innovative technologies for battery recycling, Mississauga, Ontario
  • tentree, sustainable clothing and tree-planting program, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Whistler Blackcomb, practices towards a net-zero operating footprint, Whistler, British Columbia

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
Saving the world through evidence, knowledge and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a collection of 14.6 million specimens and artifacts, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site,


Information for media:
Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.9253 (cell)

John Swettenham
Vice-President, Marketing and Public Affairs
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.868-8277 (cell)