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Harkin Award

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.

J.B Harkin

"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.

Harkin Award winners

Click To See Citations

    • 2014 David Henry (Regional) Read More

      "David has made significant contributions to the establishment & maintenance of parks & the protection of wilderness, including the Grasslands National Park in SW Saskatchewan and Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, as well as revisions in the National Parks Act of Canada, and the concept of ecological integrity and Zone II Wilderness Areas in national parks.  A leader in CPAWS and at the Saskatchewan Environmental Society for decades, he sees the long-term big picture. His research, teachings and writings  have wide scientific acclaim and have influenced many young conservationists."
    • 2013 Harvey Locke (National) Read More

      "For over three decades of tireless work to advance the cause of parks, ecological integrity and connectivity across the landscape in Canada and throughout the world. For his leadership on the founding of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative for wildlife connectivity. For work in the US to promote philanthropy, encourage nature in museums across North America, and instigate the Nature Needs Half movement for WILD. For international work, as a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas to promote biodiversity as the priority for global protected areas. For his long affiliation with CPAWS from 1981 to the present, as a volunteer and in substantial leadership roles at the chapter and national levels.  For his passion about the important role of wilderness to the human psyche."

    • 2013 Ric Careless (Regional) Read More

      "For over four decades of devotion to advancing the cause of parks and wilderness, ecological integrity, and nature conservation and environmental education in the province of British Columbia. For his deep involvement  in the creation and expansion of many parks, for example Tatshenshini-Alsek, Spatsizi Plateau, Stikine River, Pacific Rim's Nitinat Triangle and the 'the Chilcotin Ark', that preserve the full range of major BC ecosystems and wildlife habitat for major species. For promoting long term endurance of BC park systems.  For his long-term association with the BC chapter of CPAWS as volunteer and Board member. For his legacy of protection of large landscapes."

    • 2013 John Marsh (National) Read More

      "For over five  decades of continuous contribution to conservation at the local, regional and international levels. For his advocacy, starting in the ‘60’s, of Canadian wilderness and marine parks. For his lifelong support of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, first as a founding member of the National & Provincial Parks of Canada, now CPAWS, and then in the critical role he played in its early days on the national Board and as President of the Society.  For his leadership in education, communication and interpretation programs, including development of Interpretation Canada and the Trails Study Unit. For his promotion around the world of parks, protected areas, and wilderness in publications and presentations. For sharing his love for wild places with the many individuals whom he has “touched” through his lifetime."

    • 2012 Nikita (Nik) Lopoukhine Read More

      "... for his lifetime of commitment to promoting scientific discussion and ecological integrity within Parks Canada and for championing Canadian conservation and park values globally."

    • 2010 The Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada’s National Parks Read More

      Panelists include: Louis Bélanger, Stephanie Cairns, Jacques Gérin (Chair), Luise Hermanutz, Michael Hough , F. Henry Lickers , Thomas D. Nudds , Juri Peepre , Paul F. Wilkinson, Stephen Woodley , Pamela Wright (Vice Chair ). “The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is pleased to award the J.B. Harkin Medal for Conservation to The Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada’s National Parks for its success in integrating ecological integrity into the legislation, management and science of Canada’s National Parks”

    • 2008 Bob Peart Read More

      “…for his lifetime of extraordinary commitment to parks, nature conservation and environmental education in Canada. Over four decades Bob has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of parks in Canada. He has been deeply involved in the creation of many parks including Grasslands National Park, Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park World Heritage Site, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and Churn Creek Protected Area. As a ministerial chief of staff, he participated in the creation and implementation of British Columbia’s Protected Area strategy that resulted in that province’s protected area system being more than doubled in size.”

    • 2007 Dr. Jim Thorsell

      “…for his lifetime of commitment to the world’s national parks. He helped Canadians come to value their wilderness in the 1960s (including writing one of the first Canadian masters theses on wilderness). He was a board member and volunteer with CPAWS’s predecessor NPPAC and worked on the original and successful Nahanni campaign in the early 1970s. He worked for Parks Canada and for park agencies in Ontario, Alberta, BC, and Yukon.
      Dr. Thorsell served as executive officer of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s commission on National Parks and Protected areas based in Switzerland and as senior advisor to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. His field work covered 700 protected areas in over 90 countries. He evaluated over 150 sites for World Heritage designation resulting in over 1 million sq km of land being brought under the World Heritage Convention and was responsible for the designation of four such sites in Canada. He continues his work by serving on the board of the Charles Darwin Foundation which is dedicated to conservation of Galapagos National Park and of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, British Columbia Chapter.”

    • 2005 Dr. J. Gordon Nelson

      “In recognition of a lifetime of service to the preservation of national parks and protected areas, from his early days as a conservation activist and academic in Calgary working to ensure a role for the public in the management of our national parks through your distinguished career at the University of Waterloo, his efforts have been vital to the framework for thinking about protected areas, regional planning and greater park ecosystems in North America, Central Europe and other parts of the world. His legacy of civic activism, professional publications, thematic conferences and students who now practice in the parks and protected areas field across the country is a basic cornerstone of conservation in Canada”

    • 2003 Mike Harcourt, Derek Thompson

      In recognition of the dedicated service to the protection of the environment, natural ecosystems and wild places of British Columbia. Under their leadership, British Columbia led Canada and the world in the 1990s in the conduct of province-wide comprehensive land and water use planning. This visionary planning constructively engaged British Columbians from all walks of life in thinking about the future of their province. As a result, the provincial park system more than doubled in size and British Columbia became the first Canadian government to protect more than 12 per cent of its lands in parks. (taken from citation letter, changed “you” to “their”).

    • 2002 Elizabeth May

      “In recognition of over thirty years of dedicated service to the protection of the environment and wild places of Nova Scotia, Canada and the world. Through public advocacy, campaigning, writing and teaching, she communicated the importance and inherent beauty of nature to Canadians with passionate commitment. As a grassroots environmentalist, lawyer, senior policy advisor to a Minister of Environment, and executive director of Sierra Club of Canada, she has fought for protection of Cape Breton forests from pesticides, prairie rivers from dams, South Moresby and Main River forests from logging, the Tatshenshini and Jim Campbell Barrens from mining, as well as contributed directly to the establishment of five national parks and marine conservation areas.”

    • 2001 Monte Hummel

      “In recognition of over thirty years of dedicated service to the conservation of Canada's wilderness and wildlife, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society gratefully confers to Mr. Monte Hummel the J.B. Harkin Medal for Conservation. Through outreach, authorship, campaigning, mentoring, and advocacy, he has communicated the importance and inherent beauty of nature to Canadians with passionate commitment. As President of World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWFC) he has fought for protection of endangered species and endangered spaces, assisting in the down-listing of 28 species from Canada's Species at Risk List, and the creation of over 1000 protected areas in Canada.”

    • 2000 Mike and Diane McIvor

      “In recognition of over 30 years of dedicated volunteer effort to protect the ecological integrity of your home place, Alberta’s Bow Valley, including your tireless work to protect Banff National park from further road construction and commercial development, participation in scientific studies, support for the Yellowstone to Yukon conservation initiative, and key role in establishing the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society gratefully confers on you the J.B Harkin Medal for Conservation.”

    • 1999 Dr. Stephen Herrero

      “Dr. Stephen Herrero gives us hope that human actions can be reconciled with the natural world. A distinguished and inspiring scientist, Steve is also a passionate spokesperson for nature, builder of the conservation movement and loving human being. Steve has worked tirelessly and effectively to make the earth a safer place for all living things.”

    • 1998 Dr. John Theberge (with special recognition of Mary Theberge)

      Dr. John Theberge - “…for outstanding contributions to the conservation of wolves, wildlife, wilderness and ecosystems in Canada during the last three decades, and especially for work on the greater understanding, planning, and management of national parks and other protected areas throughout the country, including pioneer efforts in the creation of Kluane and other northern national parks. Recognizing also that these efforts were built upon an interweaving of love of nature, science, and civic activism, in the spirit of the civic society that Canada aspires to be. For all these qualities, this award is gratefully given.”

      Mary Theberge - “…for outstanding contributions to conservation of the wolf and wilderness in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario and for work on many national park and conservation projects with John B.Theberge in difference parts of Canada. Also in recognition of educational activities with citizens and especially with young through the Guiding movement, children’s writing and more recently, by promoting the ecological understanding of wolves in Algonquin Provincial Park, through media, lectures, talks, and publications.”

    • 1997 Cliff Wallis

      “…for his 25 years of determined efforts to protect the full diversity of natural regions in Alberta; for his crusade to save Southern Alberta’s prairie river ecosystems, in particular the campaign to stop the Oldman dam; for bravely fighting this issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which resulted in a historic judgment confirming federal jurisdiction over the environment; for his scientific commitment to document the environmentally significant areas of Alberta; for his collegial work with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in the Whaleback hearings; and for his leadership of conservation organizations in Canada.”

    • 1996 Chief Emeritus Ruby Dunstan

      “…for her tireless dedication to protect the Stein River Valley in southwestern B.C., the traditional lands of her people; for her efforts to raise international awareness of its environmental, cultural, and spiritual values; for her skill to work cooperatively with others toward the goal of preserving this important watershed; and for her determination and leadership which has resulted in a protected natural and cultural legacy for the benefit of all people.”

    • 1994 Dr. J. Stan Rowe

      “..for the radical insights and truths revealed through his deep ecological and philosophical writings and teachings on Nature and human ecology; for his scholarly thinking and research into the deeper meaning and supreme value of the Ecosphere, its natural ecosystems, and their countless species; for elucidating to us the ecological basis for why people should value, restore and be of service to Nature.”

    • 1992 Jennifer Shay, Vernon C. Brink

      Jennifer Shay - “…for her dedication and leadership in the preservation of Manitoba’s natural systems through an exemplary research career and commitment to environmental education, and for her unwavering advocacy for parks and conservation through the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.”

      Vernon C. Brink - “…for a lifetime of dedicated service to the conservation of British Columbia’s natural environments in all corners of the province, for his outstanding contribution as a role model of enthusiasm and commitment for students and conservation volunteers, and for his leadership in environmental organizations and special government initiatives.”

    • 1990 Andy Russell

      “…for his lifelong dedication to the pursuit of a deep understanding of nature’s beauty and mysteries; and for his commitment and courage in the defense of Canada’s wild lands, waters, and life. Waterton Lakes National Park, the Oldman River and the grizzly could have no finer ally.”

    • 1989 Gavin Henderson

      “…for his devotion to conservation; for his role as founder of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society; for his significant contributions to the development of a National Parks policy; and for his constant attention to the need for increased public participation, awareness and appreciation for the management and protection of Canada’s parks and protected areas.”

    • 1987 Alex T. Davidson

      “…for his exceptional contribution to the Government of Canada’s nation-wide Parks Program during a period of rapid expansion, widespread research and planning activities, and new management initiatives; his leadership in ensuring cooperation and participation among agencies, institutes and the public on an array of conservation programs and issues; and his dedicated, long-term public service contributing to stewardship of heritage in Canada.”

    • 1985 Michael J. Nolan, George W. Scotter, Charles Sauriol

      Michael J. Nolan - “…for his unique, persistent and very successful role over a 30 year period in Newfoundland in preserving the Avalon Caribou herd and in the establishment and maintenance of the Avalon Wilderness Reserve, and also for his selfless example of dedication to the protection of wildlife and Wildlands in rural Canada.”

      George W. Scotter - “…for his long term, effective and dedicated role as a Canadian Wildlife Service scientist and as a citizen conservationist in advancing wildlife studies and national park identification, planning and management, notably in northern Canada.”

      Charles Sauriol 0 “…for a lifetime of selfless dedication to furthering the cause of conservation, primarily in Metro Toronto and Region, and also across the country through his leadership in the Nature Conservancy of Canada and in his conservation writings and inspirational activities, notably in regard to natural areas in and near cities.”

    • 1981 George F. Ledingham

      December 8th, 1981“…for inspiring in generations of citizens the knowledge and love of the natural history of Canada’s great plains, and dedicating himself as researcher, teacher, writer and founding member of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society to the conservation of native grasslands in the prairie provinces.”

    • 1978 William Fergus Lothian

      October 12th, 1978“…for sixty years of dedicated public service illuminated by commitment and devotion to Canada’s national parks, for unstintingly sharing with others his incomparable knowledge of national park administration and for his definitive historical research on Canada’s national parks.”

    • 1975 Roderick Haig-Brown

      April 5th, 1975“…for inspiring widespread appreciation of Canada’s heritage of nature and natural beauty over more than a quarter of a century and for his pioneer efforts to conserve and defend this heritage.”

    • 1972 Hon. Jean Chretien

      February 21st, 1972 - “…for unparalleled achievement in expanding Canada’s National Parks System and establishing by word and deed that the prime purpose of the National Parks is to preserve our heritage of nature and history for the benefit and enjoyment of this and all future generations.”