Finalists announced for 2023 Nature Inspiration Awards: Celebrating Canada’s nature leaders for 10 years

OTTAWA, Sept. 12, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canadian Museum of Nature is pleased to announce the finalists and the Lifetime Achievement recipient for its 2023 Nature Inspiration Awards.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of this national program, which celebrates the leadership of adults, youth, not-for-profits and businesses that are connecting Canadians with nature and setting examples for a sustainable future.

The many innovative projects led by this year’s finalists (see list below) touch on diverse topics, from bee conservation, to the care of marine and freshwater ecosystems, to education about human impacts on the environment, to the creation of sustainable products such as an eco-paint, and more.

The 2023 awards cover six categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Adult, Not-for-Profits (small to medium), Not-for-Profits (large), Sustainable Businesses and Community Action. The 21 finalists will be celebrated on November 16, when winners in each category will be announced at a gala hosted by the museum, which is Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences.

“For 10 years now, our museum and partners have celebrated the often unsung individuals and groups in Canada that are leading the way in showing the importance of a healthy natural world,” says Dr. Danika Goosney, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “This year’s finalists again prove how innovating thinking, persistence of effort, and commitment to a cause can make a difference, both locally and across the country.

Among the 2023 finalists are youth who lead by example as environmental ambassadors and as innovators through science-based projects, while adults help educate about the diversity of nature, galvanize others to protect ecosystems, and share their love of nature through photography and architecture. Not-for-profits and community groups show leadership in taking action to protect wildlife and habitats, training volunteers and citizen-scientists, or in developing new educational programs for children and adults. The businesses being recognized show innovation with the development of sustainable practices, and “green” products.

In addition to announcing the category finalists, the museum is proud to name this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient: zoologist and advocate for owl conservation, Dr. James Duncan in Balmoral, Manitoba.

For decades, Duncan has been active in local, national, and international biodiversity conservation, focussing on species at risk, and especially owls. As a conservation zoologist and manager for the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Conservation Data Centres, he and his partner, fellow zoologist Patsy Duncan, researched and banded owls. The couple also started the Manitoba Volunteer Nocturnal Owl Survey, now implemented in other parts of Canada, and as an author, he has penned over 100 owl-related articles and papers, as well as several books.

In retirement, Duncan established Discover Owls, delivering live-owl presentations, and reaching close to 30,000 children and adults. Through these efforts, Duncan has taken to heart his belief that academic science is important for conservation, but true change comes from engaging with the public, and providing opportunities for direct and personal experiences with nature.

For the Nature Inspiration Awards, the Canadian Museum of Nature is grateful for the support of media partners The Globe and Mail and the Walrus, as well as award partners the Canadian Space Agency (Adult category) and Polar Knowledge Canada (Community Action category), and award sponsors Ontario Power Generation (Not-for-Profit, small to medium category) and Meta (Sustainable Business category). The awards gala is supported by evening sponsor BDO Canada Ltd, and cocktail sponsor Dunrobin Distilleries.

The jury included Shelley Ambrose, former Executive Director/Co-Publisher, The Walrus; Carolynn Beaty, Director of Granting, The Sitka Foundation; Christine Beevis Trickett, Director, Corporate Communications, Nature Conservancy of Canada; Kevin Chan, Global Policy Campaign Strategies, Meta Inc.; Michelle Chaput, Director of Research and Education, Royal Canadian Geographical Society; Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo; Lynda Brown, Alumni Team Lead, Students on Ice Foundation; Danika Goosney, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of Nature; and Sarah Overington, Director, Science and Engineering Promotion, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Winners for each category of the Nature Inspiration Awards receive $5,000 that they can “pay forward” and designate to a nature-related program of their choice, or reinvest in the project for which they were nominated. Details, including profiles of the finalists and the Lifetime Achievement recipient, can be found at                                                                                                 
Here is the list of 2023 finalists:
Youth category (aged 17 and under as of Dec. 31, 2022)

  • Clara Brown, Merrickville, Ontario: environmental advocate, project leader, and motivational speaker;
  • Fiona Brown, Merrickville, Ontario: writer on environmental issues, and youth ambassador;
  • Evan Howells, Whitehorse, Yukon: champion for bee conservation, and award-winning science-fair participant;
  • Emily Xu, Toronto, Ontario: innovator and creator of an eco-paint, and creator of Splash on Earth, a community-building event.

Adult category (aged 18 and up)

  • Paul Parent, Montreal, Quebec: nature photographer, specializing in insects and their diversity;
  • Howard Rideout, Toronto, Ontario: architect and leader of The Dorset Project, a nature preserve in Ontario’s Muskoka district;
  • Gail Wallin, Williams Lake, British Columbia: environmental coordinator and biodiversity advocate, having helped form the Invasive Species Council of BC.

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

  • Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition, Victoria, British Columbia: implementation of Land, Water, Us, a strategy to promote literacy about the importance of oceans;
  • Living Lakes Canada, Nelson, British Columbia: facilitator for communities to monitor freshwater ecosystems;
  • Natural Assets Initiative, Victoria, British Columbia: guidance for decision-makers in identifying, managing, and protecting natural assets such as wetlands;
  • Surfrider Foundation of Canada, Victoria, British Columbia: advocate for legislation about the elimination of plastic waste along beaches and in oceans.

Not-For-Profit category (large organization)

  • Goodwill Industries of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta: sustainable practices through the diversion of used clothing, furniture and other goods from landfill;
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School, Gatineau, Quebec: implementation of an outdoor Kindergarten nature program, in line with the provincial curriculum;
  • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Toronto, Ontario: repurposing a hydro corridor into a thriving meadow, which will be the largest linear urban park in Canada.

Community Action category

  • Transition Salt Spring’s Climate Adaptation Research Lab, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia: initiator for research around fire-risk intervention and climate-change resilience of area watershed;
  • Don’t Mess with the Don! Toronto, Ontario; supporting the conservation and recreational use of the Don Valley and Toronto’s ravines;
  • Ottawa Riverkeeper, Ottawa, Ontario: engaging citizen-scientists (Riverwatchers) to monitor and improve the sustainable use of the Ottawa River;
  • Victoria Compost and Conservation Education Society, Victoria, British Columbia: promotion of composting and stewardship of healthy soils through the Healing City Soils program.

Sustainable Business category

  • Ecolopharm, Chambly. Quebec: designer and developer of eco-friendly pharmaceutical packaging;
  • Re4m Design and Fabrication, Ottawa, Ontario: transformation of landfill-designated materials into custom displays, furniture, signage, and more;
  • Stolat Hotels (Hyatt Place Ottawa West), Ottawa, Ontario: leadership in sustainable practices, from hotel infrastructure to the visitor experience.

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 website,

Information for media:

Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
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Kasia Majewski
Head, Marketing and External Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature

613-618-0427 (cell)