Canadian Museum of Nature announces winners of the 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards

November 08, 2017

Nature inspiration awards logo

OTTAWA, (Nov. 8, 2017)—A teenage environmental activist, Canada’s “canoe man” and a visionary leader for Arctic research are among the recipients of the Canadian Museum of Nature’s 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards. These individuals join two not-for-profits and two businesses announced as winners this evening at a gala hosted by the museum, which is Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences.

The Nature Inspiration Awards, inaugurated by the museum in 2014, recognize individuals, groups and organizations whose leadership, innovation and creativity connect Canadians with nature and the natural world. The 2017 awards cover seven categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Adults, Not-for-Profits (small to medium), Not-for-Profits (large), Businesses (small to medium), Businesses (large), and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2017 winners include:

  • teenager Stella Bowles from LaHave, Nova Scotia, who doggedly pursued changes to clean up the flow of sewage into her local river;
  • Ottawa adventurer and author Max Finkelstein, known as Canada’s “canoe man”;
  • Nature Canada, for their innovative awareness campaign to keep birds safe by keeping cats indoors;
  • the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for its moving exhibition about blue whales and ocean conservation;
  • Ungalli Clothing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, created by two sisters concerned about sustainability in the fashion industry;
  • and Coca-Cola Canada for its commitment to water recycling and preservation of water habitats.
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Louis Fortier of Quebec City for two decades of leadership in coordinating Arctic research programs that integrate different fields of study.

See videos about each of the winners at

“This year’s award winners are a testament to the many ways that individuals, organisations or businesses can inspire and create a more healthy engagement with the natural world,” says Meg Beckel, CEO and President of the Canadian Museum of Nature. "We congratulate not only the winners, but also all those who submitted nominations this year, and we are grateful for the opportunity to recognize their achievements."

A jury selected the winners after paring down the applications to a shortlist. Winners receive $5,000 that they can designate to a program of their choice. The 2017 awards were supported by presenting sponsor Enbridge Inc. and media sponsors The Walrus and The Globe and Mail. Bruce Power was a category sponsor (Not-for-Profits, large).

"At Enbridge, we take responsibility for the environment seriously by investing in programs that promote environmental stewardship, conservation and environmental education,”says Linda Coady, Chief Sustainability Officer, Enbridge Inc. “That’s why we are pleased to support the 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards, which recognizes the diverse activities and projects that Canadians are undertaking to promote environmental innovation and sustainability.”

Winners of the 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards:

Youth category (aged 17 and under) – Stella Bowles, LaHave (Lunenburg County), Nova Scotia
Concerned about contamination in her local river, the LaHave, Stella led a campaign to eliminate straight pipes, an older technology that allows untreated sewage to flow directly into the river. Stella's campaign successfully mobilized federal funding to help home owners replace these systems. She also received a silver medal at the 2016 Canada-Wide Science Fair for her project on testing bacteria in the river.

Adult category – Max Finkelstein, Ottawa, Ontario
Max Finkelstein, known as Canada's "canoe man," is an outstanding leader, educator and writer on Canada's natural history and conservation. He organizes educational canoe trips and paddling events. Max estimates that he has paddled more than 25 000 km on five continents, and in 2015 was named as one of Canada's Top 100 Explorers by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Not-For-Profit category (small to medium organization) – Nature Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Cats are the third-largest human-related cause of bird deaths, after climate change and habitat loss. Nature Canada implemented an innovative, positive campaign that encourages cat owners to keep their pets safe and under supervision, while saving bird lives. The program's partners include veterinarians and nature conservation organizations, mayors and even author Margaret Atwood.

Not-For-Profit category (large organization) – Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario
When nine blue whales were stranded and died in thick ice off the coast of Newfoundland in April 2014, the Royal Ontario Museum recovered and conserved the remains of the two that had washed ashore. Immediately, the museum began sharing the story of these creatures. Through research, public engagement and the creation of a new exhibition, the ROM has inspired the public to learn more about whales and ocean conservation.

Business category (small to medium organization) – Ungalli Clothing, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Sisters Hailey and Bree Holinsworth founded Ungalli because they were concerned about the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Ungalli's clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles, re-used cotton and organic cotton. Most of the clothing is produced in Canada through environmentally conscious processes. One Ungalli t-shirt saves 16 water bottles from going into the landfill.

Business category (large organization) – Coca-Cola Canada, Toronto, Ontario
Coca-Cola Canada's commitment to 100% replenishment of water used in its processes extends to the restoration of Canadian water habitats. Through community partnerships across Canada, the company has helped community groups restore wetlands in Calgary, Alberta, and around Lake Ontario, and restore forests around Pelee Island, Ontario, to name a few.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Louis Fortier, Quebec City, Quebec
Louis Fortier, Ph.D., is the Scientific Director of ArcticNet. Over the past 20 years, his leadership has secured funds to develop national and international research initiatives in the Arctic, including the International North Water Polynia Study (NOW), the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) and ArcticNet. His vision and influence have helped engage Inuit at all levels of the research process, cross barriers among the natural, social and health sciences, and forge new partnerships between academia and the private sector. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada (2007).

In addition to Meg Beckel, the jury included Shelley Ambrose, Executive Director/Publisher, The Walrus; Carolynn Beaty, Granting Director, The Sitka Foundation; Linda Coady, Chief Sustainability Officer, Enbridge Inc.; Jack Cockwell, Chairman/CEO, Partners Limited; Philip Crawley, Publisher, The Globe and Mail; John Geiger, CEO, Royal Canadian Geographical Society; Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director, Students on Ice Foundation; and Arnold Witzig, Co-Founder, Arctic Inspiration Prize.


About the Canadian Museum of Nature:
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6-million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site,

Information for media:
John Swettenham
Director, Marketing and Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.566.4249; 613-868-8277 (cell)

Dan Smythe
Senior Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.566.4781; 613-698-9253 (cell)