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Enjoying the great outdoors on horseback
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Enjoying the great outdoors on horseback

Comeaus on horses This guest blog (including the photos) was written by the Comeau family. Monte Comeau was the grand prize winner of last year's 75th Anniversary Photo Contest. He and his family were awarded a horseback trip for two courtesy of Copper Cayuse Outfitters. Are you interested in submitting to our 2015 Nature Photo Contest? Are you curious about the grand prize? The Comeau family, last year's photo contest winners, recently redeemed their prize and went on an expedition with Copper Cayuse Outfitters. This year's top prize will be similar. Here are the Comeau's highlights from their exciting adventure.


Our trip began with an introduction to the guides and horses and a brief information session then we were off on our first days ride!  We rode 15km the first day to base camp, The trails were well traveled and offered great views along the way, often times they were quite narrow and steep but the horses were very capable and we were never once concerned for our safety. Base camp was great with hot showers and comfortable cots in our tents. photo 4 Exploring the historic Li-Lik-Hel gold mine was a great experience, hearing the history of the area from our guides made it especially interesting and understanding what the Hard rock miners from that era experienced and endured was quite amazing. The campsites were great, large tents and comfy cots made for a good nights sleep after an exhausting day of riding.  The owner, Don Coggins, was the chief cook. The food was plentiful and we enjoyed every meal. Each day ended with campfire evenings and interesting conversations.

Saying good bye to the horses at the end of the adventure was hard but what a great experience they gave us.  Thank you again to these wonderful creatures! A huge thank you from the Comeau family to Nature Canada and the incredible prize we were awarded for the winning image in the 2014 photo contest! We also want to thank everyone from Copper Cayuse Outfitters for the fantastic horseback trek through the mountains near Pemberton, BC to the historic Li-Lik-Hel mine expedition. Our host Don Coggins at CCO was very gracious and a special thank you to our guides Georgia and Paula who were so helpful and patient.  And last but not least are the wonderful horses that did all the work!  Max, Ridge, Oscar, Nippy and Smokey performed like troopers and made the entire experience so much better, We would like to say that anyone who might be concerned about horseback riding in the mountains not to worry, you will be in very capable hands with these stellar horses and experienced guides.

photo 10


Congratulations once again to Monte, the grand prize winner of last year's photo contest. Submit today to our 2015 Nature Photo Contest for YOUR chance to win a similar adventure from Copper Cayuse Outfitters! This year, they've once again generously donated a trip for two on their Historic Li-lik-hel Mine Expedition. You will get to ride on trails that were originally cut by the miners and have been pounded in by years of horses transporting the gold ore to the rail-head in the early 1900’s. You’ll spend three days and two nights in BC’s spectacular Coast Mountain Range, exploring  the beautiful mountain range between Birkenhead Lake and the Li-lik-hel mine. Recently, this expedition has been officially designated as a Canadian Signature Experience! If a horseback trip doesn't suit your fancy, don't worry! We have a variety of prizes you could win. Ready all the details about the contest here.

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Foresters volunteers join Nature Canada’s BioBlitz
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Foresters volunteers join Nature Canada’s BioBlitz

Nature Canada wants to thank the wonderful volunteers at Foresters for joining us at the Fall BioBlitz. Foresters insurance company partners with charitable organizations to support families and communities through volunteering events. The Fall BioBlitz was one such event. 15 volunteers joined Nature Canada at the Fall BioBlitz at Mud Lake to build bird and bat houses. In total 24 bird houses and 12 bat houses were constructed and donated to Nature Canada. We will work with communities to place the bird and bat houses in critical spots around the city to support healthy urban wildlife populations. Thank you Foresters volunteers! [caption id="attachment_16901" align="aligncenter" width="945"]photo of family building a bird house Building bird houses at the BioBlitz[/caption] [caption id="attachment_16900" align="aligncenter" width="945"]photo of people building a bat house Building a bat house at the BioBlitz[/caption] [caption id="attachment_16902" align="aligncenter" width="945"]photo of volunteers with complete bird and bat housees Foresters volunteers with the completed bird and bat houses at the BioBlitz[/caption] Photography by Susanne Ure.

VIDEO: Ottawa Bird Day Parade Was in Flight!
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VIDEO: Ottawa Bird Day Parade Was in Flight!

How often do you see many different species of birds flying through the sky together all at once ? Maybe on the day Nature Canada organized the Ottawa Bird Day parade! Around 60 students from the Centennial Public School got creative and made puppets of many different species of birds to bring on their walk along the Ottawa River, along with masks they made to match their winged friends, and started their journey. These energetic birds ranged from a Red-Throated Hummingbird to an American Goldfinch, a Grey Goose and so much more! Once they reached Bate Island, located in the Ottawa river, they stopped for a quick snack of sunflower seeds. Once their "bird feeding" was finished, they grabbed their garbage and recycling bags and started to clean up and help keep the wildlife area clean. When all was clean, the hard-working students hopped on the bus back to school. It was a very fun-filled, educational day.    

”Quick get the binocs! It’s a bird migration!”
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”Quick get the binocs! It’s a bird migration!”

What did you do last Thursday? You were probably sitting at your desk while craving the beautiful sunny weather outside, weren’t you?  I was expecting a typical day at the Nature Canada office, but instead was lucky enough to be recruited to join a Bird Migration Parade! Full parade along Bikepath (2)This wasn’t just any ordinary parade, oh no. This was a procession of birds of every color, shape, and size! These feathered creatures were filled with such excitement and energy; I literally had to run to keep up! Once I had raced to get out my binoculars, I realized they were not actually birds, but students! In honor of International Migratory Bird Day (#BirdDay on Twitter) Nature Canada organized and led about 60 elementary aged students from Centennial Public School on a parade through a portion of the Lac Deschênes – Ottawa River Important Bird Area. Each student was responsible for informing themselves and representing a particular migratory bird in this symbolic procession, which they had accomplished with incredible detail and outstanding creativity. With their beautiful masks and birds created, they were ready to celebrate Bird Day. Birds and kids in parade (2) Once the migrating birds reached their final destination on Bate Island they were rewarded with a quick snack of bird feed (AKA flavoured sunflower seeds). The birds were then encouraged to do a major clean up of Bate Island. Armed with garbage and recycling bags, the students scavenged and picked up several pounds of litter and recyclables from the island, all to enhance this significant wildlife habitat. With the hard work completed, they were then free to relax and enjoy a nice bus ride back to school. All in all a very educational and eye-opening day! A very big “THANK YOU” to all the birds whose energy and excitement made this day such a success. To read more about International Migratory Bird Day, or to get ideas on how to plan your own event please check out this link http://naturecanada.ca/initiatives/bird-day/ .

Announcing the winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest
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Announcing the winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest

OTTAWA (April 3, 2014) – Nature Canada is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest. For their fantastic (and catchy!) video, the grand-prize goes to the talented students from École Antoine-Roy in Gaspé, Quebec. Not only did they produce an amazing video about Forillon National Park and a series of ‘making of’ videos', they also succeeded in engaging their entire community in the contest. They garnered the support of a car dealership, a radio station and many other groups in their community. [separator headline=h3" title="The award-winning video:"] [video type="youtube" id="dB1zYdMNiao"]   "This is really a fantastic story. How often do you see kids get this engaged in Canada's history and natural spaces," asked Nature Canada's Paul Jorgenson. "The winning class didn't just produce an interesting and educational video, they got their whole community involved in the whole contest. We were absolutely amazed when we saw how much support the kids from École Antoine-Roy were able to build in their community," Jorgenson continued. [two_third]The lucky grand-prize winners will travel to British Columbia where they will kayak the emerald waters Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and go on amazing beach adventures to observe the wildlife that make this beautiful place their home. Students will also live the life of a World War I or II soldier at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, connect with the traditions of local First Nations, tour Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site after-dark and sleep under the stars in Parks Canada’s new oTENTik camping experience. The grand prize includes meals, accommodation and return airfare to and from Victoria for their entire class and their chaperones.[/two_third] [one_third_last][map w="198" h="202" style="standard" z="9" marker="yes" infowindow="Forillon National Park" infowindowdefault="yes" maptype="TERRAIN" hidecontrols="true" address="Forillon National Park, Quebec"][/one_third_last] For their admirable submissions, the Grade 8 classes from Toronto Waldorf School, Montague Intermediate and Northside Christian School are the winners of the runners up prizes. The runners up win local field trips and gift packages. Honourable mentions go out to the Grade 8 and secondaire 2 classes from Pavillon la Citadelle, Cedarview Middle School, École Carrefour de l’Acadie, Glashan Public School and Father Mercredi Community School. To enter the contest, grade 8 classes were asked to pick a Parks Canada place and make a video on why it’s important to Canadians. The theme of the video is: “Canada’s Coolest Stories: where nature and history meet”. This contest is made possible by the partnership of Nature Canada, Parks Canada, Canadian Geographic Education, Canadian Wildlife Federation and Historica Canada with the support of Air Canada. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]  

Winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest (2013-2014)
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Winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest (2013-2014)

[dropcap style="default"]C[/dropcap]ongratulations to the winners of this year’s Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest! For their fantastic (and catchy!) video, the grand-prize goes to the talented students from École Antoine-Roy in Gaspé, Quebec. Not only did they produce an amazing video about Forillon National Park and a series of ‘making of’ videos‘, they also succeeded in engaging their entire community in the contest. They garnered the support of a car dealership, a radio station and many other groups in their community. Nature Canada is proud partner in this year’s Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest. The contest is open to any grade 8 class (secondary 2 in Quebec). The grand prize includes a four-day all-expenses-paid trip to Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse national historic sites near Victoria, BC. The lucky grand-prize winners will kayak the emerald waters Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and go on amazing beach adventures to observe the wildlife that make this beautiful place their home. Students will also live the life of a World War I or II soldier at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, connect with the traditions of local First Nations, tour Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site after-dark and sleep under the stars in Parks Canada’s new oTENTik camping experience. The grand prize includes meals, accommodation and return airfare to and from Victoria for a class of up to 30 students and their chaperones. There are also many other great prizes to win, including field trips and gift packages for runners up. For their admirable submissions, the Grade 8 classes from Toronto Waldorf School, Montague Intermediate and Northside Christian School are the winners of the runners up prizes. The runners up win local field trips and gift packages. Honourable mentions go out to the Grade 8 and secondaire 2 classes from Pavillon la Citadelle, Cedarview Middle School, École Carrefour de l’Acadie, Glashan Public School and Father Mercredi Community School. This contest is made possible by the partnership of Nature Canada, Parks Canada, Canadian Geographic, Canadian Wildlife Federation and Historica Canada with the support of Air Canada. Watch the video that was awarded the grand-prize this year. [video type="youtube" id="dB1zYdMNiao"]

Canadian Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature meets in Ottawa to discuss youth engagement in nature
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Canadian Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature meets in Ottawa to discuss youth engagement in nature

On January 16, 2014, the Canadian Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (CC IUCN) gathered in Ottawa at the Canadian Museum of Nature for its Annual General Meeting. The meeting was dedicated to exploring opportunities for engaging youth in nature as part of a broader initiative within the Union to embrace future generations in the implementation of the Union’s mandate. In attendance were representatives from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Parks Canada, Students on Ice, UNESCA and Nature Canada.  The meeting included presentations by youth delegates like Gerrit Wesselink, a student at the University of Ottawa in Political Sciences and Public Administration and an Alumni of the Students on Ice Expedition Program. "One thing I firmly believe in is the fact that not only are youth leaders of tomorrow, we are leaders of today!", said Gerrit. During day-long discussions, ideas were generated by youth delegates and CC IUCN members on how to connect youth to nature. Below is a sample of some of the ideas discussed. What can our organizations do?

  • Create culture of conservation through actions that are intentional
  • Educate youth to have respectful, sustainable connections with nature
  • Urban education – show conservation in their own backyards for those without access to much green space
  • Help move away from ‘preaching to the converted; generate new networks
  • Help address the challenge of engaging young boys – some solutions could be geocaching, non-typical ways to engage with hands on components
  • Challenge: maintaining connection between small communities.
  • Solution: maintain green spaces for next generation
What can CC IUCN do?
  • Identify candidates to attend the World Parks Congress (WPC)
  • Coordination of groups attending the WPC for collaboration before, during and after the congress
  • Profile the Canadian context: challenges and opportunities (e.g. large spaces, urban centers, etc)
  • Link NGOs and the work they do across Canada to make it more impactful
  • Link people with specific skills and experience together to create influence
  • Coordinate a project/competition to select youth to go to WPC, talking about conservation in their community
  • Bring nature to city, break barriers between city and nature
  • Business internships and learning opportunities
  • Gym classes outdoors
  • Hands on experiences
 These results will help guide CC IUCN’s support for youth now and into the future including as well as the role of Canadian youth in the upcoming World Parks Congress.
Special thanks to all the youth delegates and to Christine Kelly (CWF), Luba Mycio-Mummers (CWF), Dominique Potvin UNESCO), Meg Beckell (CMN), Mike Wong (PC) and Geoff Green (SOI), and the supporting organizations, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Parks Canada, Students on Ice, UNESCA and Nature Canada for their support to the organization of the event.

Nature Canada Selected as one of Canada’s Top Environmental Charities
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Nature Canada Selected as one of Canada’s Top Environmental Charities

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Last week, we were pleased to be named one of Canada’s top environmental charities for 2013 by Charity Intelligence Canada. In a report on the environmental sector, Charity Intelligence Canada looked at three of the most pressing issues facing Canada’s environment and selected seven charities that addressed these issues and achieved the best track record of results. “With our successes in getting official recognition of several key sites for environmental protection, we’ve had a very good year we can be proud of,” said Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “We’re pleased to have this hard work recognized by Charity Intelligence,” Davidson continued. Nature Canada was selected as a top performing environmental charity for its advocacy work on endangered species and habitat protection. The nomination is a nod to Nature Canada’s major educational program with Parks Canada and successful advocacy campaigns on the creation and better protection of National Parks and National Wildlife Areas, endangered species legislation and habitat stewardship. Nature Canada was actively engaged in the Northern Gateway Pipeline process as an advocate for nature and wildlife and was instrumental in bringing together conservationists from around the world for BirdLife International’s World Congress in Ottawa this past June.  However, the Charity Intelligence report recognizes that there’s still work to be done. Only 12.2% of Canada’s land is protected, ranking 16th out of 30 OECD countries. As a comparison, in the United States, 24% of land is protected. In terms of oceans, Canada ranks further down the list in 70th place in the protection of marine ecosystems. Fragile arctic ecosystems and watersheds are particularly in need of protection. Canada has an estimated 70,000 species but this valuable biodiversity is fragile with a third of species threatened.  Policy analysis and research, like the kind that Nature Canada conducts, is an important part of finding solutions to these environmental challenges. In fact briefing notes prepared for the former Environment minister, Peter Kent, revealed the Harper government acknowledges the "significant environmental policy analysis and research" that is carried out by Nature Canada and other environmental non-profits and think tanks. While the challenges facing Canada’s environment and wildlife are significant, Nature Canada’s programs and partnerships are strongly positioned to affect positive change for Canada’s threatened species and habitats. We would also like to congratulate the environmental charities featured in the report on their successes this past year in protecting and conserving Canada’s wildlife and habitat. 

Youth Voice Shines at Global Congress!
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Youth Voice Shines at Global Congress!

[three_fourth] Stephanie Pineau shares her experience of attending and helping to organize a youth workshop at the 2013 BirdLife International World Congress held in Ottawa, Canada in June. Stephanie completed her practicum for a Master in Psychology at Carleton University with Nature Canada. During her time with us, she focused on coordinating the workshop on youth for the Congress. By Stephanie Pineau The excitement was palpable at this year’s BirdLife International World Congress. Thursday saw the start of a variety of workshops with topics ranging from renewable energy to conservation issues.  However, one workshop stands out in its originality in terms of topic and method used to convey the message contain therein.  ‘A programme for connecting youth to nature’: the evidence is in, connection to nature is beneficial physically, mentally, and emotionally for all of us, including youth. That which added the greatest depth, inspiration, uniqueness, and long lasting motivation from this workshop however, was the heartfelt and insightful presentations from two youth. Carlos Barbery, a 13 year old from Gatineau, Canada who first became involved in birding at the age of 4 after learning the call of the raven, kicked off the presentations.  Carlos’ endearing nature was certainly present as he listed off the activities he’s involved in as a young conservationist including many citizen science projects and a birdathon fundraising event for conservation research. Carlos’ knowledge has reached such a level that in some instances he is now acting as the teacher rather than the student leading birding groups and presenting information on conservation at his school. The second powerfully conveyed message came from Tina Lin, a 12 year who has now been birding for only a couple of years. Her charming calm presence on stage was clearly a force of inspiration to the hearts and minds of all delegates in attendance.  Among other things, Tina has translated information from the RRSPB for engaging children in bird watching, for youth in China. While this in itself is immensely impressive, she also took to the stage at the fundraising Gala with guests such as Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan in attendance to discuss youth and nature with former CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Secretary of the Treasurer under President George W. Bush, Henry Paulson.  The clarity with which she spoke is suggestive of the fact that we may be overlooking valuable sources of insight by excluding youth from our decision making processes.The inclusion of the youth presenters in the Congress was a refreshing blend of intelligence and innocence as they fearlessly expressed their opinions and achievements to groups of adults.  The message they conveyed highlights the importance of having supportive adults who treat youth with the respect deserving of any human-being regardless of age. Fortunately, the Congress was not all work for our youth presenters. Together with their mothers and some expert birders (of which Carlos is certainly one), they had the opportunity to engage in one of their favourite pastimes.  As the sun came up over lac du soleil in Gatineau Park they encountered a wide range of species including Yellow Warblers, Pine Warblers, Swamp Sparrow, Wood Ducks, a Green Heron, a Belted Kingfisher, and many more species. And as we see from these youth, they not only speak about the importance of engaging with nature in enclosed spaces, but actively seek out nature with all the enthusiasm and wonder (plus a massive amount of knowledge) that we would expect and hope to see in the youth of today. [/three_fourth][one_fourth_last] Gillian, Tina, her mom and Carlos looking for birds Carlos Barbery - youth presentation Tina Lin - youth[/one_fourth_last]

Congratulations to the winning class of the Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest!
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Congratulations to the winning class of the Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest!

As part of the My Parks Pass Program, Nature Canada joined Parks Canada and the Historica-Dominion Institute in launching a national video contest to engage Grade 8 and Secondary 2 students across the country in learning about our nation's rich natural and cultural history. The challenge was put forth to these students to make a short video recreating a significant Canadian moment related to a national park, national historic site or national marine conservation area. We were thrilled with the high quality of every video submitted to the contest and are incredibly proud to be announcing the winners. We are delighted to offer our most heartfelt congratulations to the Grade 8 Class at Montague Intermediate School from Montague, PEI, for being selected as the official contest winners. The entire class will be travelling to Banff National Park for an unforgettable 4-day, 3-night adventure, courtesy of Brewster Travel and Banff Lake Louise Tourism. The class, taught by Megan Morrison, created a video entitled "The Charlottetown Conference of 1864" which tells the story of the fateful gathering of the fathers of confederation at Province House in Charlottetown. In case you missed their video, watch it here: The class will be welcomed by the Banff Community High School Grade 8 students and they will experience the ultimate Canadian Rockies adventure packed with exciting activities, including a trip to the top of Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola, storytelling while on the Banff Lake Cruise, and sightseeing at some of the most beautiful places in the Mountain Parks. They will also visit the renowned Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park, where they will get to sleep over at the Glacier View Inn and venture onto the Athabasca Glacier onboard a massive Ice Explorer on the Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure. Congratulations once again to the 8C class at Montague Intermediate School, and thank you to everyone who participated in this contest! For more information on the My Parks Pass program, please visit www.myparkspass.ca.

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