Ojibway style artwork with people sitting by a fire near trees with a human and wolf WHAT IS NET? WHAT IS NET?


Building a safety NET for our children’s children

The National Environmental Treasure (NET) is a people’s trust fund devoted to the exclusive funding of Canadian environmental organizations, to increase their core capacity in critical areas such as environmental literacy, infrastructure support, public communications, and operational sustainability. We are particularly interested in supporting under-funded smaller and medium-sized organizations, working in local communities and regions. Our goal is to build a $30 million-dollar public charitable foundation for the environment — the equivalent of every Canadian donating a “loonie” for their environment. In addition, we are leading a national biodiversity education program to increase literacy and action on the ground to ameliorate biodiversity loss and augment regeneration.

child playing in red autumn leaves in park

Our Work

Most funding for environmental organizations is from private foundations and government, and consequently, it tends to be directed towards larger well-known organizations. By building the first public charitable foundation for the environment, independent of government and private foundations, the NET is designed to directly meet the needs of Canadian environmental organizations.


The vision, structure and operations of the NET have been carefully built over the last several years, through talking to environmental groups all across the country. We have listened, and in response to their needs we built the NET. We enjoy the support of a majority of groups across the country, advised by a high-profile Advisory Committee with representatives from across the country. Our operating principles include inclusivity, transparency, partnership, coordination and cooperation, diversity and walking our talk.

Our Goals

Establish a long-term trust fund for environmental organizations to support environmental action that is ultimately self-sustaining and not dependent upon further donation.

Increase public awareness and literacy about the environment and the work of environmental organizations locally and nationally.

Provide infrastructure support to emerging and new groups and organizations.

Educate individual Canadians, particularly young people, by demonstrating that many small actions (i.e., giving one loonie) can contribute to meaningful social action by establishing a long-term legacy for environmental organizations.

Public Accountability

Working Documents

Building Capacity

The NET is an innovative strategy for developing a sustainable environmental movement in Canada. While there is funding available from government sources, public and private foundations as well as corporations to finance environmental initiatives, that funding is almost exclusively large project-based and goes to already well-established organizations. Therefore, under this traditional format, underlying organizational weaknesses are not addressed. The NET’s concept of targeting the core capacity and operational level for funding aims to restore environmental organizations’ long-term capacity for strategic planning and maintaining long-term effective communication and public education programs, also highlighting the latest science and research.

Working Locally and Nationally


Much of the funding available is regional, which cannot meet many of Canada’s national environmental needs and objectives. For example, large keystone species and their conservation transcend human-made political boundaries, requiring unprecedented cooperation and collaboration at all levels. The NET is unique in fostering collaboration with groups locally, regionally and nationally.

Catalyzing Partnerships and Collaboration


The NET also models an unusual organizational structure, one that puts primacy on relationships, partnerships and coordinated joint actions. The NET is committed to remaining a virtual-based organization, and will not central hard infrastructure. Rather, it reaches into communities through existing networks and innovative partnerships – both with traditional and non-traditional allies of the environment, working through others, while retaining a small central core. This unique administrative structure allows the NET to minimize its administrative costs, and, as an operating principle, we commit to taking no more than 10% of monies generated for administration.

Past Projects


  • Climate Change EcoSavers Coupon Book: The NET developed this educational and awareness tool to educates the public around issues of climate change, raise awareness about how consumer behaviour impacts on climate change, provide a fundraising tool for both the NET and community NGOs, and promote the use of environmentally-friendly products.
  • Paving the Yellow Brick Road Loonie Drive (correct title?): add content

Endowment Fund


The NET is continuing to build its endowment fund slowly over the years, and has yet to secure a national distribution system for collecting a loonie from every Canadian. We are the first not for profit environmental trust in Canada. Our goal is to keep building a long-term trust fund for grassroots environmental initiatives aimed at raising public awareness, education and conservation on the ground. We ask that you join in the movement and help ensure a clean, healthy future for our children’s children, one loonie at a time, by contributing to the NET.


The NET has broadened its mandate, however, from building critical infrastructure capacity in the environmental movement to now include engaging Canadians in the imperative conversations around critical social issues affecting the movement. This includes new funding models for non-government organizations in the social sector to climate change adaptation and mitigation and biodiversity conservation.


*Please note the NET is currently building its’ trust fund and is not yet in a position to disburse funding.

Why Canada needs a National Environmental Treasure

All Canadians benefit from the NET’s activities by ensuring the long-term ability of environmental organizations to continue their critical work in raising awareness and educating Canadians about the need to protect their environmental legacy.

What are the direct benefits of NET?

To support and build capacity in new and emerging environmental organization.

To build a national trust fund in the amount of $30 million dollars to directly fund the long-term sustainability of leading-edge environmental projects that fall outside the mandates of existing funding bodies.

To communicate and build literacy the critical horizontal issues that are beyond the interests of any one sector, government department or province.

To build greater social cohesion and collaboration between environmental groups and organizations.

• To mobilize individual Canadians to realize the power of many small, meaningful actions can, collectively, lead to significant change, through building the trust fund loonie by loonie.

Environmental Non-Government Organizations


Poll results have consistently revealed that the majority of Canadians (82[MOU1] %) are aware of environmental issues and the recent climate strikes show that more and more Canadians are concerned with climate pollution and biodiversity loss. One of the main reasons for this awareness is due to the work of the environmental community and their public education campaigns over the last few decades.


However, systematic funding cutbacks to environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) have seriously affected ENGOs’ capacity for strategic planning and maintaining long-term effective communication programs. Small- to medium-sized ENGOS have been particularly hard hit during this time of funding restrictions and increasing competition for fewer resources. ENGOs are struggling to sustain their education and public information campaigns and to provide long-term advocacy on any one issue. This is undermining their credibility and ability to consistently keep key issues high on the public agenda. In addition, their research capacity, which has been historically underdeveloped and underfunded, has encountered increasing setbacks over the last few years.


Other sources of funding are failing to fill the gap. The NET is responding with a unique program to restore and maintain ENGO capacity.

Infrastructure Project

The National Environmental Treasure (NET) is pleased to act as the fiscal sponsor for the #Go17 campaign. As a partnership between five Canadian and American foundations (Echo, Ivey, Schad, Viola, Wilburforce and Woodcock), their common focus as the “Outside Thinkers” is to commission and support communications initiatives that promote more environmentally conscientious ways of living on the planet.


In Canada, the goal of the #Go17 initiative is to create and implement a national communications campaign that builds public support for Canada’s governments (provincial, territorial, federal and Indigenous) to attain Canada’s Target 1 objectives (Aichi Target 11) by 2020. Aichi Target 11 requires that Canada increase its protection of landscape and freshwater systems to 17% by 2020. To date, the country has only increased its percentage from 10 to 10.7% putting it well behind all other G7 countries. However, the federal government, in partnership with the government of Alberta, publicly committed to achieving the 17% target by 2020 and has allocated CAN$1.3 billion in the 2018 federal.


Incredibly, few members of the public outside the ENGO community know anything about these monumental steps forward. There has been almost no public outreach to date. To address this issue, the #GO17 campaign will build both awareness of the Target 1 initiative and the value it brings to all Canadians. Looking beyond Target 1, the campaign will also challenge Canadians’ relationship with nature and ask them to consider supporting the protection of the nation’s crown lands at an unprecedented scale, and in different ways including, significantly, the designation of Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas (IPCA’s).


For more detail about this initiative, check out our proposal to the Hewlett Foundation.

Meet Our Team

Yellow illustration of bulrush plant

“In nature, the normal way in which trees flourish is by their association in a forest. Each tree may lose something of its individual perfection of growth,
but they mutually assist each other in preserving the conditions for survival. A forest is the triumph of the organization of mutually dependent species.”


– A.N. Whitehead


Val Behan-Pelletier


Board Member

Valerie Behan-Pelletier is an Honorary Research Associate in the Invertebrate Biodiversity Program at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa. She is an expert on soil mites in ecosystems globally, and has a broad research interest in biodiversity and ecology of arthropods in soil and canopy habitats. She is currently engaged in research initiatives on soil mites across North America and in New Zealand. She is an Editor of the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas, a Project of the European Commission and the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, scheduled to be released in Fall 2015. She is past member of the UNEP Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) Soil and Sediment Subcommittee. Valerie has been a recipient of Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, is a past member of NSERC’s GSC on Evolution and Ecology, and the Scientific Committee of the Biological Survey of Canada. She is a graduate of University College Dublin, Ireland and McGill University, Montreal. She brings her passion for and knowledge of biodiversity to the Women for Nature Initiative


Board Chair

Ann Dale is the Director of the School of Environment & Sustainability at Royal Roads University. She held her university’s first Canada Research Chair and her field is Sustainable Community Development. She is a member of the World Academy of Art and Sciences, a Trudeau Fellow, and has received numerous awards over the course of her academic career and work with the environmental movement. Professor Dale has been committed to building capacity in the environmental movement and the social sector for several decades.

no image replacement image


Founding Member

Heather Hamilton is the Executive Coordinator of the Canadian Biodiversity Institute and a founding member of Transition Ottawa, a Transition Town initiative. She is also active in other municipal affairs as the Vice-Chair of Ottawa’s Forest and Greenspace Advisory Committee. Cats, dogs and gardens keep her busy at home.


Board Member

Yuill Herbert is a founding member and Director of a not-for-profit worker’s cooperative, Sustainability Solutions Group whose work involves sustainability assessments for universities, community planning and sustainable buildings. He is also on the boards of Canadian Worker Cooperative Federation and Canadian Cooperative Association.

Nina-Marie Lister headshot


Board Member

Nina-Marie Lister, MCIP, RPP, Hon ASLA is Graduate Program Director of Urban Planning and Director of the Ecological Design Lab at Ryerson University. She is the founding principal of Plandform, a creative studio practice engaged in planning and design of green infrastructure across parks, public spaces and urban waterfronts worldwide.

no image replacement image


Board Member

Gulzar Samji is a consultant and educator on environment, gender and development, and has published widely in this area. She is director of the Canadian Institute of Community Development. She has participated in several United Nations conferences and advisory committees.

Kent Waddington


Board Member

Kent Waddington is an executive leadership coach and co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care where he works as communications director. An environmentalist since high school, Kent has spent much of the past 20 years engaged in coaching members of the Canadian health services sector as they develop and deploy more environmentally-responsible and climate-change preparedness practices within their organisations.


Jason Adair



Jason Adair is an Ojibway (Ashinabe) artist from Etobicoke, Onatrio who resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. From an early age, Jason was inspired by the Woodland style of Ojibway art and in particular by Norval Morrisseau. His inspiration and strong desire is to bring healing and joy through colorful images, passing on teachings and stories that have been passed to him.

Leanne Cadden



Leanne Cadden is a UVic graduate of the Gustavson School of Business with a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in Entrepreneurship. She specializes in working with nature and art and was First Finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce business awards for the start-up of her own gallery at age 24. 

Jaime Clifton-Ross


Communication & Outreach Curator

Jaime Clifton-Ross is a communication and curatorial specialist who is passionate about communicating science to the public. She is currently teaching in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University and previously worked as the research curator for CRC Research in that department. She has a Bachelor of Arts, specializing in Art History, from the University of Victoria and a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto.

Benjamin Joel Cran


Film & Audio Director

Joel Cran started his journey into the world of creativity through music and meditation. In this order, his personal and career path went: Meditation –> Music –> Sound Design –> Filming –> Business Stories (Marketing). Joel is an award-winning videographer and sound engineer residing in Victoria B.C.

Emily Jerome standing in front of tree


Digital Engagement Assistant

Emily Jerome is an inspired environmental educator who finds joy in sparking wonder in others and discovering new places to explore outside. She is a recent graduate from Royal Roads University with a Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication. Emily also holds a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Biological Sciences from the University of Calgary.



Graphic Designer & Art Director

Chantelle Mussell is a lovely spirit of a human being and an excellent creative director and designer. She’s a singer, a songwriter and a marketing extraordinaire. With over 15 years of graphic design and communications experience, Chantelle has worked with many celebrated environmental and social groups all striving to save the world.


We are dedicated to working wherever possible with a wide diversity of partners as a means to more directly benefit local communities across Canada. We strongly believe that strength lies in diversity and partnership, that the sum of the whole is stronger than the parts. It is only through partnership, through individual actions offered by a single individual or organization that often in isolation appear small, are the ones that collectively grow into meaningful social action. We welcome your involvement, either individually or through your organization, or business.

We gratefully acknowledge the support and commitment of the following partners since our establishment in 1999.

If you are interested in working with the NET, please contact us.


We would like to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their generous support.

william and flora hewlett foundation logo