Nature Heroes recognized at Nature Inspiration Awards

It is important to celebrate our heroes. They deserve recognition for good deeds done, and because they provide powerful inspiration. Some of our heroes have the talent to create art that raises our emotions through sheer beauty or incredible imagination. Other heroes have the physical ability to float across a hockey rink or rocket down a soccer field, which causes us to shout and cheer.

And then there are the heroes of nature who are often less well known, but because of what they do, why they do it, and the deep passion in their delivery, they are able to change the world around them.

Finalists and winners of the Nature Inspiration Awards standing on a staircase.

Assembled for the Nature Inspiration Awards gala are this year’s 2016 finalists, winners and jury members. Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

These nature heroes are individuals, groups and organizations; they are young and old. They see themselves as an integral part of the natural world and are so enthused by nature, and the prospect of the sustainability of it, that they create new ways of taking part in life. And they do it for their whole lives, or make sure it is part of the core value of their institution, usually involving many others.

The Museum has created a way to celebrate some of these heroes through its Nature Inspiration Awards. Each year, we see a long list of well-deserving applicants and face the tough choice of deciding who should be given recognition at a special gala. The revelation of the contenders’ accomplishments is nothing short of amazing. The experience of reading through such a wide range of activities and accomplishments gives a refreshing perspective on our capacity as humans, and is a humbling experience.

This year’s gala took place on November 9. The recipients of the 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards are:

  • Individual, Youth: Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a dynamic teenager who is a First Nations Leader, Actor, Singer-songwriter and Youth Ambassador for Native Children’s Survival. She regularly speaks on the world stage in her roles and her latest music/visual project, Earth Revolution, is a powerful move to gather respect for Mother Earth.

  • Individual, Adult: John Lounds, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, an organization that he has transformed into an important national force. The not-for-profit has safeguarded over 2.8 million acres of ecologically significant land in Canada.
John Lounds, holding a trophy, standing beside Meg Beckel.

John Lounds with museum President and CEO Meg Beckel at the 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards gala. Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

  • Lifetime Achievement: Neal Jotham has spent more than 50 years advocating for the humane treatment of animals, including as leader of the Federation of Canadian Humane Societies. Because of his efforts to develop humane trapping methods, the suffering of millions of wild fur-bearing animals in North America, Russia and the European Union has been eliminated, and the trapping of untargeted species has been greatly reduced.

  • Not-for-Profit, Small to Medium: The Natural Step Canada is an organization that facilitates the path to sustainability. Its programs give instruction on how to best embed sustainability into the strategies, operations, products, services and plans of communities, businesses and groups. They have fostered commitment and competence in thousands of leaders and practitioners through its learning programs.
  • Not-for-Profit, Large: Ocean Tracking Network is a global research and technology platform and development project based at Dalhousie University. This network of scientific experts enables national and international sustainable management of species such as marine mammals, sea turtles, squid, crustaceans, sharks, sturgeon, eels, tuna, salmon, and cod. It achieves this by providing knowledge of aquatic animal movements, migrations, habitat use and survival.
A woman holding a trophy stands at the side as a man stands at a podium in front of a screen.

Dr. Sara Iverson and Dr. Fred Whoriskey (at podium) accept the 2016 Nature Inspiration Award at the gala held November 9, 2016 at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

  • Business, Small to Medium: SK Films is an established multimedia company dedicated to creating and distributing high quality, natural history productions. It also links innovative educational materials and conservation activities to reinforce and enhance the entertainment experience. SK regularly collaborates with scientists and educators and in their emphasis on connecting to school groups, families and citizen scientists.
A man shakes the hand of a woman accepting an award.

John Geiger, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, presents the 2016 Nature Inspiration Award for Business (small to medium) to Wendy MacKeigan and Jonathan Barker with SK Films. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature.

  • Business, Large: Teck Resources Limited is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development. It has expertise related to exploration, development, mining and minerals processing, including environmental protection, materials stewardship, recycling and research. Teck is committed to minimizing the footprint and mitigating impacts of its operations, eventually leaving behind productive ecosystems for future generations.

The Canadian Museum of Nature extends a well-deserved congratulations to all the recipients of the 2016 awards. Read more about these heroes and see videos recognizing their achievements at And may their accomplishments and the powers of nature inspire you!

If you know a deserving person or organisation for the 2017 awards, look for the Call for Nominations in February 2017.

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