"What is needed in Canada today is an informed public opinion which will voice an indignant protest against any vulgarization of the beauty of our National Parks or any invasion of their sanctity. Negative or passive good-will that does nothing is of little use. We need "fierce loyalties" to back action. The National Parks of Canada are a source of untold pleasure and pride to our people. Every principle of enlightened patriotism should inspire us to keep them inviolate."
- James Bernard Harkin, Canada's 1st Commissioner of National Parks
The Harkin Conservation Award honours individuals who have demonstrated a significant contribution throughout their lifetime through words and deeds to the conservation of Canada’s parks and wilderness. This contribution may have resulted from the individual’s occupational or professional responsibilities, or from his/her activities as a citizen or member of a group. Often called "the Father of National Parks", J. B. Harkin developed the idea of conservation in Canada at a time when there was little precedent. Harkin created Canada's National Park system, the world's first park service. By establishing standards for their preservation, Harkin created a world class example of land conservation. Recipients of the J.B. Harkin Conservation Award are presented with the J.B. Harkin Medal. The medal was designed and cast in bronze by one of Canada's preeminent sculptors and medal designers, Dora de Pedery Hunt.