Canadian Museum of Nature announces winners of 2016 national Nature Inspiration Awards

November 09, 2016

NIA Awards

(Winners, finalists and jury members at the Canadian Museum of Nature's 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards, held Nov. 9, 2016 in Ottawa. Photo credit: Martin Lipman, Canadian Museum of Nature.)

OTTAWA (November 9, 2016) — A new slate of individuals, not-for-profit organisations and businesses are recipients of the 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards from the Canadian Museum of Nature. They include a teen environmental ambassador, a marine research network, a multimedia company that tells nature stories, a mining company that implements environmental practices, a visionary CEO of a conservancy organisation, a company that leads workshops on sustainability, and an advocate for humane trapping standards. Winners were announced this evening at a gala hosted by the museum, which is Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences.

These 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 2016 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 2016 winners include: Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a First Nations singer and environmental youth leader; John Lounds, head of the Nature Conservancy private land trust; the Ocean Tracking Network, a research group at Dalhousie University that promotes ocean conservation; SK Films, a nature documentary leader in the IMAX film industry; the Natural Step Canada, which leads workshops focussed on creating a sustainable society; and Teck Resources, which has implemented environmental measures for its mining operations. The lifetime achievement award recognizes Neal Jotham for his concerted efforts over five decades to establish humane regulations for the fur-trapping industry. Videos about each of the winners can be seen at

"There are many reasons that drive people and organisations to seek a more healthy engagement with the natural world. This year’s winners reflect the scope of this involvement and they are an inspiration for others," says Meg Beckel, CEO and President of the Canadian Museum of Nature, which developed the awards. "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 2016 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).

"We are pleased to support the 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards, which recognizes the diverse activities and projects that Canadians are undertaking to promote environmental innovation and sustainability," says Linda Coady, Chief Sustainability Officer, Enbridge Inc. “This year’s group of winning individuals and organizations are truly inspiring, and it is our privilege to help sponsor these national awards."

Winners of the 2016 Nature Inspiration Awards:

Adult category – John Lounds, Toronto, Ontario
As President and CEO, John Lounds has guided the Nature Conservancy of Canada to become Canada's leading private land trust. Working with individuals and groups, this not-for-profit works to conserve more than one million hectares of ecologically significant land. Lounds has tripled the Nature Conservancy’s budget and continues to inspire staff and volunteers through his leadership.

Youth category (aged 17 and under) – Ta’Kaiya Blaney, North Vancouver, British Columbia
At age 10, Ta'Kaiya's first song and video "Shallow Waters" brought international attention to the impact of oil spills on otter populations in British Columbia. She works with the Salish Sea Youth Foundation, a Canadian First Nations Youth organisation dedicated to the restoration of wildlife populations in the Salish Sea. As a UN Youth Ambassador for Native Children's Survival, she also champions the rights of indigenous youth in environmental protection.

Not-For-Profit category (small to medium organisation) - The Natural Step Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
The Natural Step Canada coordinates workshops to make meaningful progress toward a sustainable society. Using a set of principles to define environment sustainability, Natural Step has successfully worked with dozens of companies to realign company operations. Its Change Labs, and IMPACT! Champions programs bring together businesses, governments, NGOs and individuals for discussion and resolution of environmental conflicts.

Not-For-Profit category (large organization) – Ocean Tracking Network, Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Ocean Tracking Network, based at Dalhousie University, brings together researchers and marine experts from around the world to monitor aquatic life. The network tracks the movements, migrations and habitat use of marine animals. The collected data in turn serves communities and governments to manage regional and global concerns, from fisheries management to impacts of climate change.

Business category (small to medium organisation) – SK Films, Toronto, Ontario
For more than 18 years, SK Films has been creating and distributing multimedia productions about nature. The company is a leader in the Giant Screen/IMAX® industry, and inspires viewers to take action about the environment. Recent productions include Flight of the Butterflies 3D and the Water Brothers, a TV and online series that includes hands-on information and ideas for projects.

Business category (large organisation) – Teck Resources Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia
Teck Resources has developed an environmental-management strategy to mitigate, or avoid the environmental impacts of its mining operations. Careful planning and judicious investments are focussed on helping closed mines return to a state of net-positive biodiversity, with self-sustaining ecosystems that can be used for years to come.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Neal Jotham, Ottawa, Ontario
Over five decades, Neal Jotham has played a central role in the creation and adoption of international standards on humane animal traps used in the fur industry. First as a volunteer, and then as executive director of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, he always remained true to his goal: to improve the animal-welfare aspects of trapping. Through Neal’s efforts, an international humane trap standard was adopted in 1999, and recognized through a trade agreement between Canada, the European Union and the Russian Federation.

In addition to Meg Beckel, the jury included Shelley Ambrose, Executive Director/Co-Publisher, The Walrus; 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 Geographic Society; Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director, Students on Ice; 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)