Nature Canada

Introducing Emily McMillan: Nature Canada’s New Executive Director

Emily McMillan is the Executive Director of Nature Canada. She leads the organization’s efforts to discover, defend, and restore nature.

We sat down with our new Executive Director to learn more about her and her vision for Nature Canada.

Where does your love for nature stem from?

As the daughter of a military family, I moved around a lot. This taught me independence and curiosity. I explored the wilderness around me as a kid, from catching frogs to hiking. Nature has always been my happy place.

We regularly went on family camping trips. One of my fondest memories is a 10-day road trip from central to eastern Canada, where we stopped to camp along the way.

How has that love of nature inspired you growing up?

I learned about Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall in high school. They inspired me to join the local environmental club.

I moved to the east coast to attend the University of New Brunswick for my Bachelor of Science with a focus on environmental biology. There, I joined leagues with other young environmental activists through the New Brunswick Environmental Network. We taught youth about environmental conservation, as well as organized protests and workshops and launched letter-writing petitions.

I became passionate about people’s values and how we move communities to action. I pursued a Master’s of Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University, exploring how we learn environmental values in post-secondary settings.

You also got your PhD. at Laurentian University. What made you want to pursue a doctorate?

People’s values can transform when they’re informed. This gave me hope that change is possible, so I completed a PhD. in Human Studies. I explored how home and public schooling settings shape how children learn about and appreciate nature, and how this influences people long-term to create a society that cares about protecting nature.

You have an impressive career spanning over 20 years in environmental conservation. Can you break it down for us?

Before joining Nature Canada, I spent seven years as Executive Director of the Green Party of Canada during which the party was more successful than ever. We doubled donations, grew the membership, and made electoral breakthroughs across Canada.

Prior to my time in politics, I was also the Director of Sierra Club’s Atlantic Canada chapter. I grew the organization from a mostly volunteer-led group to over six staff and an annual budget of over $260,000.

And of course, I’m not new to Nature Canada. I joined the team here three years ago as Deputy Executive Director so I’ve been helping shape and lead our strategy for some time now.

What made you want to join and lead Nature Canada?

Nature Canada is one of the oldest national nature conservation charities in Canada. The organization represents a network of over 175,000 members and supporters, and more than 1,200 nature organizations. The breadth of Nature Canada’s impact is remarkable.

But our people are even more impressive. Everyone truly feels passionate about protecting nature, and the plants and animals depending on it for survival.

We’re a unique organization working together to achieve big goals.

When you’re not leading Nature Canada, you’re in the wilderness with your children. How does your love of nature show up in motherhood?

My parents instilled in me the values of self-discovery and compassion for the world around me. Now as a mother with two children under 10, I know that to be a mentor to your kids, you have to let them experience nature firsthand.

This is why we’ve gone camping and canoeing every summer since they were born. My kids love Algonquin Park and its wetlands for bird watching.

They’re also enrolled in Waldorf schooling, an education system that fosters their independence, creativity, and imagination.

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.