Canadian Museum of Nature announces winners of the 2023 Nature Inspiration Awards

OTTAWA, Nov. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canadian Museum of Nature announced the winners of its national Nature Inspiration Awards at special gala Thursday. These annual awards, now in their tenth year, recognize projects led by individuals, businesses, and not-for-profits that show leadership, innovation and approaches to sustainability that connect Canadians with nature and the natural world.

Among the 2023 recipients are a Yukon teen promoting the importance of native bees, a dynamic leader from British Columbia tackling the challenges of invasive species, an innovative Quebec business leading the way in sustainable packaging for pharmacies, a volunteer-led community group cleaning up ravines in Canada’s largest city, and a committed naturalist from Manitoba educating Canadians about biodiversity and owls.

The 2023 winners include:

  • Gail Wallin, a facilitator and educator based in Williams Lake, British Columbia for leadership in mobilizing awareness and action on invasive species;
  • Evan Howells, a teen from Whitehorse, Yukon, for advocacy and research about the importance of native bees in Yukon;
  • Don’t Mess with the Don!, a volunteer-driven community organization that has led programs to clean up, restore and enliven Toronto’s Don Valley and the city’s ravines;
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School, based in Gatineau, Quebec for implementing an outdoor, nature-immersion Kindergarten program;
  • Natural Assets Initiative, in Victoria, British Columbia, for creating an innovative approach that helps municipalities quantify the value of nature to their communities;
  • EcoloPharm from Chambly, Quebec, for its innovative design and distribution of eco-friendly pharmaceutical packaging;
  • and James Duncan, Ph.D, from Balmoral, Manitoba for decades dedicated to research and public outreach about owls, and the importance of biodiversity.

The 2023 awards covered seven categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Adult, Not-for-Profit (small to medium), Not-for-Profit (large), Sustainable Business, Community Action and Lifetime Achievement.

“Ten years of the Nature Inspiration Awards confirm there’s an abundance of inspiring ways that Canadians are working to maintain a healthy natural world,” says Dr. Danika Goosney, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “The projects and people recognized through these awards offer tangible paths towards a sustainable future, increasingly needed at a time when we are faced with environmental challenges, from biodiversity loss to climate change.”

See videos about the 2023 Nature Inspiration Award recipients at

A jury selected the winners after paring down the applications to a shortlist of finalists. Winners receive $5,000 that they can ”pay forward” to a nature-related program of their choice, or reinvest into their project or initiative.

The 2023 Nature Inspiration Awards were supported by media partners The Globe and Mail and the Walrus, with award categories supported by the Canadian Space Agency (Adult category), Polar Knowledge Canada (Community Action category), Ontario Power Generation (Not-for-Profit, small to medium category) and Meta (Sustainable Business category). BDO Canada LLP was the gala’s evening sponsor. with Dunrobin Distilleries as the gala’s cocktail sponsor.

Winners of the 2023 Nature Inspiration Awards:

Youth category (aged 17 and under as of Dec. 31, 2022) – Evan Howells, Whitehorse, Yukon
Through his own field research and outreach activities, Evan is helping to address threats facing native bumble bees in Yukon. His study of foraging patterns of native bumble bees vs. apiary-based honey bees has been shared with government and the public, and he has succeeded in getting civic authorities to plant native bee-friendly gardens and flower boxes. 

Adult category – Gail Wallin, Williams Lake, British Columbia
A professional facilitator and educator, Gail is passionate about building partnerships that help protect natural habitats. Her dedication has led to the establishment of the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia. It is the largest invasive species organization in Canada, with programs for youth, Indigenous communities and local governments. 

Lifetime Achievement recipient – James Duncan, Balmoral, Manitoba
For more than three decades, James has shared the importance of biodiversity as a conservation manager, author, professor, mentor and researcher about owls. He established the program Discover Owls to introduce the importance of conservation to young audiences and has reached close to 30,000 children and adults through his presentations, books and outreach.

Not-For-Profit category (small to medium organization) – Natural Assets Initiative, Victoria, British Columbia
More than 100 communities have benefitted from this group’s innovative approach to natural-asset management. Its approach helps local governments and agencies in identifying, valuing and accounting for nature as assets (such as ascribing a value to forests or wetlands in a community), helping build communities where nature is a part of city planning. 

Not-For-Profit category (large organization) – Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School, Gatineau, Quebec
Play-based outdoor education is the focus of this school’s innovative kindergarten, nature-immersion program. Children spend five hours a day, year-round, in nature, meeting developmental and educational milestones. Nature immersion contributes to the students’ social and emotional development, as well as their health and well-being.

Community Action category – Don’t Mess with the Don! Toronto, Ontario
This grassroots group is committed to the clean-up and stewardship of Toronto’s Don Valley and the city’s ravines. Thousands of volunteers have removed over a hundred thousand kilograms of refuse and invasive plant species. The group runs activities to help city dwellers discover nature – from trail-recreation programs to tree plantings – connecting Toronto residents to the benefits of nature.

Sustainable Business category – EcoloPharm, Chambly, Quebec
This B-corp certified Canadian manufacturer is a leader in the design and distribution of eco-friendly pharmaceutical packaging. It applies environmental metrics to all of its processes and products, which include numerous household name brands. Through its efforts, EcoloPharm is working with over 3,200 stores to help reduce the impacts of waste and plastics in their operations. 

About the Canadian Museum of Nature:
Saving the world though evidence, knowledge and inspiration! 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 15-million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site,

Information for media:

Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613-698-9253 (cell)