2019 Award Winners
Meet the finalists in the 2019 Nature Inspiration Awards.
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, and received national media coverage, as well as 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 2019 at venues including Parliament Hill.
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.
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.
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 2019 RBC Women's Entrepreneur Awards and was named the 2019 Business Person of the Year by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
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.