• The winners of the 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards

    The winners and jury members of the 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards. (Photo courtesy Museum of Nature)

A 13-year-old conservationist from Lunenburg County, N.S., the Royal Ontario Museum, Coca-Cola Canada and one of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Top 100 Explorers were among the seven winners honoured at the 2017 Nature Inspiration Awards Wednesday night at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

The winners were selected by a jury from a shortlist of nominees. Aside from the title, each winner receives $5,000 to put toward a program of their choice.

“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,” said Meg Beckel, the Canadian Museum of Nature's president and CEO.

John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS and Canadian Geographic, was a returning member of the jury and presented the award for large not-for-profit organizations — this year, the Royal Ontario Museum. "It was a remarkable evening celebrating inspirational environmental achievement," he said.

This year's winners include:

Youth Award: Stella Bowles, LaHave, N.S.

After discovering while conducting research for a school project that straight pipes were flushing fecal matter into the LaHave river, then-11-year-old Stella Bowles launched a public awareness campaign to right the wrong for her local watershed. Today, at 13, she continues to educate her community about water conservation.

Adult Award: Max Finkelstein, Ottawa

Named one of Canada's Top 100 Explorers by the RCGS in 2015 and known as Canada's "canoe man," Max Finkelstein is a writer and educator specializing in natural history and river conservation. He organizes educational canoe trips and paddling events.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Louis Fortier, Quebec City

Arctic researcher Dr. Louis Fortier is the Scientific Director of ArcticNet. For more than 20 years, he has raised funds to support research initiatives across the Arctic, both in Canada and abroad, and his work has helped further the inclusion of Inuit peoples in the research process. Fortier is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Not-For-Profit Organization Award (Small or Medium): Nature Canada (Cats and Birds campaign)

Did you know that domestic cats are the third most common human-related cause of bird deaths, after climate change and habitat loss? Nature Canada's Cats and Birds campaign aims to raise awareness of declining bird numbers and encourage cat owners to keep their pets inside, and has attracted the support of city mayors, veterinarians, and even author Margaret Atwood, whose Angel Catbird comic book series incorporates educational facts about cat and bird safety. 

Not-For-Profit Organization Award (Large): Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

When two dead blue whales washed ashore in Newfoundland in 2014, the Royal Ontario Museum seized the opportunity to recover and conserve the remains of Earth's largest animal. Their efforts culminated this year in a spectacular public exhibition, Out of the Depths, which featured a fully-articulated blue whale skeleton and presented information on whale science and conservation. 

Business Award (Small and Medium): Ungalli Clothing Co., Thunder Bay, Ont. 

The textile industry is a major contributor to environmental degradation, so sisters Bree and Hailey Hollinsworth from Thunder Bay, Ont. decided to make a positive impact on people's wardrobes. Their clothing line, Ungalli, incorporates fibres made from recycled plastic bottles, reused and organic cotton. One Ungalli tee is said to save 16 water bottles from reaching the landfill.

Business Award (Large): Coca-Cola Canada, Toronto

As part of its 2020 Vision, Coca-Cola Canada plans to replenish 100 per cent of the water used to make its drinks in just over two years. Coca-Cola Canada is also helping to improve and restore Canada's watersheds.