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Paying it forward through the Nature Inspiration Awards

By Howard Martin

A group that saves Right Whales and a centre that kick starts new businesses are among recent beneficiaries of the museum’s Nature Inspiration Awards—thanks to prize money donated by recent winners.

Each year, these national awards honour individuals and organisations for their efforts in connecting Canadians with nature and the natural world.

Along with national recognition comes a $5,000 prize, which winners are encouraged to donate to other organizations that reflect the mission of the awards. The Call for Nominations for the 2018 awards is now underway with a deadline of May 7.

Read how two recent winners shared their prize to “pay it forward”.

Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), Halifax

In 2016, this marine-research network based at Dalhousie University received the large not-for-profit award. It divvied up its prize money to support several ‘close-to-home’ organizations that encourage awareness about marine issues.

Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

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Fred Whorisky (at podium) and Sara Iverson with the Ocean Tracking Network accept their award at the 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards gala.

One recipient was the Nova Scotia Sea School’s outdoor/educational program. This group “gives kids a transformational experience and appreciation for the sea and sea-life, by taking them out on the water to explore nature and learn new skills,” says Nikki Beauchamp, communications coordinator for OTN.

Other recipients of OTN’s prize included:

  • the local Ecology Action Centre to support the group’s research and local advocacy for fishing and aquaculture policies and practices;
  • the Clean Nova Scotia Reef Ball program that helps restore marine life and habitat in the Halifax Harbour using artificial reefs. Reef balls support fish and shellfish habitat and are designed to draw marine species into coastal zones.
  • the Halifax Discovery Centre’s ‘Bubble Parade’ (an Oceans Week event) that teaches children about the impacts of plastic pollution on sea turtles; and
  • the Marine Animal Response Society, for its dedication to conservation of the North Atlantic Right Whale, and for its scientific findings and reports on the causes of the unprecedented number of right whale deaths..

Ungalli Clothing Co., Thunder Bay, Ontario

After opening the company in 2013, co-founders Hailey and Bree Hollinsworth and the rest of their team had one goal in mind: to produce sustainable clothing, made and sold in Canada, and to raise awareness of the negative impact the mainstream clothing industry has on people, wildlife and the planet.

Ungalli, which received the 2017 Nature Inspiration Award for small-to-medium business, chose to reward Thunder Bay’s Innovation Centre. This centre gave Ungalli a head start in its accelerator program four years ago. Ungalli put $1,000 towards a program called ‘Disrupt It’ that supports the best entry by youth to pursue an innovative business idea.

The Hollinsworths also supported animal rescue facilities that were close to their hearts - the New Hope Dog Rescue and Caring Hearts Cat Rescue and Sanctuary in Thunder Bay. The sisters even made T-shirts dedicated to these rescue groups. The Bear Valley Rescue that rehabilitates and offers sanctuary for aging horses also received support from Ungalli.

Nominate a nature leader now!