About Us

The Child and Nature Alliance of Canada fosters meaningful connections with the outdoors for children and youth. We believe that all children and youth should have the opportunity to play and learn in forests, parks, meadows, and mud puddles.
We work to connect children and youth with nature through policy, research, and practice.
We aim to have a deep impact on families and communities across the country. This is woven into all our key initiatives including Forest School Canada (FSC), the major educational arm of CNAC; the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, our demonstration school and in-forest home of CNAC; the Natural Leader Alliance (NLA); and our research and policy development efforts.

Our People

Passionate about the potential of nature to educate and inspire children and youth, our staff team and board of directors play a vital role in our work. Learn more about the team and how to get in touch with us below.

profile picture of Petra

Petra Eperjesi

Manager - National Programs (On Maternity Leave)

Petra Eperjesi comes to Forest School Canada by way of the rolling hills of rural Southern Ontario where she grew up, the lakes and rivers of northern Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec where she spent her adolescence paddling, and the fields of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick where she completed an organic farming apprenticeship. She holds a Master’s degree in Child Study and Education from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of King’s College in Halifax. Petra was awarded the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario’s 2013 Amethyst Award, presented to promising young educators in the field of Outdoor Education, and the 2014 Edward Burtynsky Award which recognizes an outstanding Ontario elementary school teacher who inspires environmental consciousness through exemplary teaching methods. She is an avid traveller and language learner, though these days she sticks closer to home with her husband and young son, with whom she loves to sing and cook.
Profile Pic of Chris Filler

Chris Filler

Course Assessor

Chris has been teaching and learning in the outdoors for many moons. As a kayak guide, youth worker, teacher, researcher and university instructor he has demonstrated passion and proven commitment to ensuring outdoor environmental education has a prominent place in the curricular landscape. He is currently as an adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria while coordinating curriculum development and instructing within the Forest & Nature School Practitioners’ Course. Chris holds a Masters in Education from OISE/UofT (cross disciplinary- Adult Education/Environmental Studies) and a PhD in Educational Studies from UVic. His two daughters keep him on his nature toes, allowing him to hone his skills and knowledge in how nature contributes to childhood development, learning, wellbeing and fun!
Profile Pic of Carrie

Carrie Komesch

Educator

Carrie has always been drawn to the space where education and the natural environment overlap. She spent her childhood hiking and camping with her family, and still has the Junior Ranger pin she received for participating in an Idaho State Park program circa 1993. She got her first job at the age of 15, working at a YMCA camp and was most recently employed as a nanny, where she enjoyed enriching the cognitive, emotional and social lives of children by exposing them to free and wild play in beautiful places. She became involved with Forest School Canada in 2014, when she spent her first practicum as a University of Ottawa B.Ed student collecting firewood and observing exemplary practices from her associate teacher. She believes that educators and students alike thrive in an environment that embraces evidence-based best practices, which include supporting risky play, child-led play-based learning, and a genuine commitment to an emergent curriculum that shifts with the seasons of the forest.
Profile Pic of Mavis

Mavis Lewis-Webber

Course Assessor

Mavis has worked in the early childhood education field in Manitoba for more than 35+ years, and has been mentoring educator since 1990, a role she finds very rewarding. Throughout her career she has been passionate about getting children and the adults who engage with them active outside. She is a founding board member of the Manitoba Nature Summit and from the moment she heard about Forest School she knew this was the movement she was looking for and now works as a course assessor with outdoor educators across Canada.

Mianda Thwaites

Administrative Coordinator

Profile Pic of Toby

Toby Meis

Educator

Toby began teaching as a music theory and Double Bass instructor while studying at the University of Calgary working on his B.Mus. To help fund his art and education he spent a decade working as a tree planter, and became weathered and enchanted by Canada’s forests, from BC’s steep and wet coastal rainforests to the deep, mountainous forests of BC’s interior and the northern boreal forests in Alberta and Saskatchewan. While music performance continues to be a rich part of Toby’s life, his focus has been increasingly drawn to teaching, and in 2014 Toby broadened and formalized his teaching at the University of Ottawa by completing his B.Ed. specializing in elementary education. With his new position as an educator at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, Toby is overjoyed to spend his days sharing his interest and experience in forest ecosystems while facilitating student-led play in one of Ottawa’s forests. He loves to support, and is routinely astounded by the creativity, empathy, persistence and agility that his forest school students display while they play, build, and explore.
Profile Pic of Marlene

Marlene Power

Executive Director

Marlene Power founded the Carp Ridge Forest Preschool, Canada’s first outdoor, nature-based Forest Preschool, and created Forest School Canada, a national initiative to promote nature-based education through Forest School and Nature School professional learning, policy and research. Marlene first developed Forest School Canada as an initiative under the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada (CNAC). In December 2014 she was appointed Executive Director of the CNAC and she continues to lead Forest School Canada as a key program of CNAC. She also runs the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, the headquarters for CNAC, delivering Forest School programs to the Ottawa Carleton District School Board as well as the community.

Lara Purvis

Educator

Passionate about connecting kids to the great outdoors, Lara Purvis brings her experience in social services and public education to the forest floor. She has a BA in Child Development, a BEd and a MA in Global Development. After a few years in the classroom and the field of outdoor education, Lara worked in policy development and family support services before finding her way back to play in the great outdoors. She grew up in South Africa and now lives with her two children on a small farm in west Ottawa. At Forest School she may be found telling stories about snakes and mountains and little animals with big feelings.

Tom Robson

Educational Manager - Regional Programs

Tom spent his childhood playing in the nooks and crannies of the farm where he was raised. These formative experiences have come full-circle, as he now finds himself supporting children's play at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School. Over the chapters in between, Tom worked as an outdoor educator, high school teacher, children and adult mental health worker, program manager and farmer for a number of charitable organizations.

He is continually humbled by the power of children's play in woods, and is grateful to be part of the growing CNAC and OFNS movements.

Profile Pic of Stephanie

Stephanie Smith

Program Coordinator

Stephanie comes to the organization with several years of experience of working with children in the public and nonprofit sectors. She completed her degree in Linguistics and CTESL at Carleton University while spending a number of years working at the City of Ottawa’s Department of Parks and Recreation and with Hostelling International Canada. She spent a year teaching English in Spain and exploring the rich and diverse outdoor landscapes that the country had to offer before returning to her hometown of Ottawa and starting with the Child and Nature Alliance. Her hobbies include: camping, learning languages, hiking, organizing, cooking, and puzzles.
Profile Pic of Jen

Jen Warr

Educator

Jen is passionate about sharing her love of nature, creativity, exploration and learning with students of all ages. From a very young age she was paddling, camping, frog catching, and wandering through forests, ponds, and meadows and continues to do so today. This led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences and Studies from Trent University and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Education. She has worked in a variety of capacities including outdoor education programming and canoe trip leading in Algonquin Park, science outreach programs for Aboriginal Youth, organic farming, day camps, turtle conservation and care, and earth education programs. When not working she can be found camping, knitting, gardening, puddle jumping, playing the banjo or wandering through wild spaces.

Aja Burt

Educator

Aja credits her childhood spent roaming the variegated wild of Labrador with her affinity for supporting exploration at Ottawa Forest and Nature School. With wonder and spirit, she benefits from understanding nature through the students. During her undergrad in Environmental Science at Carleton University, Aja was inspired into the movement by Richard Louv's Last Child in The Woods and has been with Forest School Canada ever since. Viewing children as competent, capable and curious learners ensures her days spent in the forest are inspired and dynamic and her nights at home are filled with stories of growth and wonder. Now pursuing her Early Childhood Education diploma, she hopes to support nature and play-based programming for all children.

Vanessa Maxwell

Educator

Laura Leet

Educator

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science for Queen’s University, and her Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa Laura feels right at home teaching in the Forest. Laura did the Forest School Practitioners course last Fall and fell in love with this way of teaching and working with children. Since then she has been working with pre-school and school aged children at the Chelsea Forest School, and is excited about supply teaching at the OFNS. She also supply teaches for the OCDSB. Laura is President of the Ontario Society for Environmental Education, and runs environmental education sessions for future teachers. In her free time you will find Laura enjoying nature in all seasons, reading a good book, or crocheting.

Hannah Clarke

Educator

Hannah grew up in a small town outside Toronto where her interest in all things nature sparked! The keen desire to explore outside led her to a wide range of jobs. She worked at an outdoor camp as the Drama and Musical Theatre counsellor for 6 years, then took on the role of Education Assistant at the Nottawasaga Centre for Conservation in her hometown. She previously worked on a berry farm as well, learning the intricacies of plant growth and harvesting. In addition to her interest of being outside, she thoroughly enjoys engaging with young minds in a variety of settings. She worked as “scientist” for Scientists in Schools (with the public board) as well as a Preschool Educator at a Child Care Centre. These dynamic experiences led to her pursuit of a Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa, wherein she completed a placement at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School. It was during her placement that she discovered Forest School as a space that fosters joy, curiosity, rich learning opportunities, and exploration – a space where magic exists. And a site wherein children create, dream, play and BE! Each day she is present, the children and fellow educators remind her, in one way or another, to reconnect, refresh and RESPECT this beautiful world we live in.

Heather Wilson-Forbes

Operations and Finance Manager

Pat Andrews

Facilitator

Inspired and enchanted by summer months spent on a remote Georgian Bay island in her youth, Pat's connection to nature is deep and reverent. From adventures by bicycle through Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, to kayaking/canoeing adventures in remote parts of BC and Ontario, hiking adventures in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the travel bug has become a symbiotic part of Pat's life. In between travel adventures Pat began her career as a teacher in 1980 teaching swimming while completing her degree in Physical and Health Education at the University of Toronto. In 1988 her career in public school education began in Waterloo Region and has included teaching children from Kindergarten to grade 10 in Toronto, Waterloo, Australia and Essex County. Pat's 3 sons arrived into an adventuresome family and quickly engendered similar co-conspiratorial playful natures as their parents. There is a story people remind her of often about an apple not falling far from a tree!! Pat has occupied roles of learn and play-at home mom, music educator and small business owner (Kindermusik), Montessori Music and Movement teacher, Waldorf teacher education and Remedial teacher, Forest and Nature School Practitioner, and now Executive Director of Natural Pathways Learning Centre. Pat has come almost full circle to deepening her connection to nature, recognizing the inextricable link between nature and well-being, while still connecting with her love of teaching and children. Pat is excited about the next chapter, working with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada Forest School Practitioner Course Facilitation Team as a life-long learner

Juwain St. John

Facilitator

Juwain grew up in a rural setting with the freedom and encouragement to play and explore outdoors. Juwain developed a deep connection to the land at an early age and has made a career out of connecting adults and children to nature. After obtaining a degree in International Development and Environmental Science from Trent University, Juwain began her journey in West Africa connecting communities to the land through education. Juwain then obtained her Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University. Juwain continued to help people nurture their relationship to the land, as a naturalist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, as a classroom teacher, and an outdoor education instructor.

Juwain is currently the Program Site Administrator for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board Outdoor Education Centres. Juwain oversees the development of inquiry-based, curriculum-linked, outdoor education programming for teachers and students in Ottawa area schools. Juwain supports the outdoor education centre staff, classroom teachers, and students daily, so they are comfortable using the outdoors as their classroom. When not in the forest at the outdoor education centres, Juwain can be found cycling, skiing, and gardening on her hobby farm east of Ottawa.

Charlotte Gleave-Riemann

Facilitator

Charlotte grew up in Victoria, BC, clambering over rocky beaches with her parents and three younger brothers. Ever curious about how people connect to each other and to the world around them, she completed a combined degree in Biology, Geography, and Religious Studies at Mount Allison University followed by a Bachelor’s of Education at the University of Victoria. In 2015, Charlotte completed CNAC’s Forest and Nature School Practitioner’s Course and in so doing, she co-founded West Coast Forest School - an extracurricular program for children ages 4-10.

Charlotte now works primarily as a substitute-teacher-by-choice in K-12 classrooms, with additional time spent in Montessori pre-schools, extracurricular forest school programs, and as a facilitator for CNAC’s professional development courses. Her practice is shaped by the Circle of Courage philosophy and a deep belief in the educative power of free play.

At present, Charlotte lives in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Tricia Edgar

Facilitator

Tricia grew up in the temperate rainforest of North Vancouver, and she still makes her home there today. She has been leading outdoor experiences in North Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon Park for over 20 years. She is also the Executive Director and co-founder of Fresh Air Learning, a forest and farm program for 150 children ages 2 to 12. Tricia holds a BA in English and Geography and a Masters degree in Resource and Environmental Management, focusing on ecological restoration.

Tricia enjoys inspiring and mentoring educators to take children outdoors in nearby nature. She also loves to see the outdoors open up to those who face barriers visiting and interacting with natural environments. She delights in telling wild stories about science and nature, is rather fond of muddy puddles, and has been known to wax poetic about slugs and slime molds.

Carly Meissner

Facilitator

Growing up camping, paddling and playing in the woods, lakes and rivers of Eastern Ontario, Carly is often found outside wandering the landscape being curious with whoever she is with - her own two boys or a group of eager children or adults. Carly believes our human resilience is strengthened from meeting our edges through contact with ourselves and being willing to lean in a little bit more. The wildness is the perfect place to meet edges, to discover who we are and our place in the fabric of life.
Nature’s influence lead Carly to pursue degrees in GeoScience, Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism and a Bachelor of Education. She has travelled many hills and valleys around the world, lead wilderness trips, created her own forest and nature school program in the Madawaska Valley, and supported schools in Renfrew County to encourage nature based play and learning in their school yards and surrounding wild spaces. Carly is currently working as a supply teacher with the Renfrew County School Board as well as facilitating CNAC Practitioner Courses, where she seeks to incorporate her skills as a nature mentor inspiring others to deepen their own connection.

Lise Brown

Facilitator

Lise began her career at camps in Manitoba as an outdoor educator and guide. In 2006, Momenta was founded to meet a need in Manitoba to provide year-round, accessible therapeutic adventure programming that meets best practice and is research-based. Lise completed a Bachelor of Recreation in 2001, a Masters of Social Work in 2007 at the University of Manitoba, a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy in 2012, and the Forest School Practitioner training in 2015. Lise combines these areas of practice to provide clinical direction, facilitate groups and counsel individuals both in urban and wilderness environments with a focus on physical and emotional safety, successful participation, fun, meaningful play and group cohesion. Lise also sits on the boards of Manitoba Green Retrofit and the Association for Experiential Education. Lise is the lead instructor for Momenta’s Foresthood programs in Winnipeg (experiencemomenta/foresthood) and is proud to be a part of the CNAC team to mentor Forest School Practitioners and advocate for outdoor play and learning experiences in Canada.

Wendy Lahey

Facilitator

Wendy was born in Burlington, Ontario to a Polish mother and a Cape Breton, Nova Scotia father. She is lucky to have 3 brothers and sisters. As a non-Indigenous resident on Yellowknives Dene Land, Chief Drygeese territory, Treaty 8, Wendy feels very fortunate to call Yellowknife home since 2005. Her and her husband Mike Palmer have two young kids, Charlie and Pippa, who keep them very busy and humbled their curiosity and capabilities. With a background in physical and health education and science, Wendy has been an outdoor educator and teacher for many years. She is currently an educator at the Yellowknife forest and nature school called Bushkids and is also a part time instructor at Aurora College. Wendy is completely inspired by shifting the balance of power to the children because they shine when they feel empowered to direct their day or create their own knowledge. She is honoured to witness the development of lasting relationships between children, the land and themselves.

Kay Rasmussen

Facilitator

Kay Rasmussen lives in Kenora, Ontario and is the owner of Boreal Forest School. Kay is a Forest School Practitioner, Ontario Certified Teacher, Early Childhood Educator, and Montessori Teacher. In addition to getting children outside in the Boreal Forest of Northwestern Ontario, Kay is working on completing her Master’s in Environmental and Sustainability Education through Lakehead University. Kay is a proud member of the Acadian Metis Nation and a mother to 3 wild children. Kay’s life work and passion is to connection children to the natural world as she believes this helps to build life-long resiliency and community for all children. Kay believes that intercultural frameworks within environmental education can help children to form a deep rooted connection to nature; which in turn works to foster environmental stewardship as well as the preservation of land and cultural traditions.

Julie McLean

Facilitator

Julie found her love for the the natural world when, as a child, she moved from wandering the open fields and forests of Northern Ontario to the big city of Ottawa. To fill the void this change had left, she joined the scout movement and has since been involved as a leader. Through different experiences with the scouts, Julie has come to discover the magic that comes with connecting children with nature. After finishing her B.Ed, Julie went on to l’Université Laval to study the development of children’s environmental sensitivity influenced by their time spent in nature. She has since worked as a teacher in Nunavik and Ontario, gardening with kids and working to create a sense wonder for the natural world. In 2016, Julie has set up a Forest School program for all students attending École élémentaire et secondaire publique Rivière Rideau. She is now coordinating this program, all the while mentoring other teachers in the school to integrate Forest school principles in their all around teaching practice. Julie is also passionate about developing forest school resources in French and hopes to, one day offer workshops for french speaking educators.

David Deyette

Facilitator

David is passionate about awakening students’ awareness of the natural world, strengthening their relationship with it, and helping them understand their potential to affect it. Originally from New York State, he earned a Master’s in Science Education from Syracuse University and has been an experiential and outdoor education professional in national parks, outdoor science schools, and traditional classroom settings from New York to California to Alaska since 1994. In 2007, he joined the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) Outdoor Education Centres, where he has focused on discovering and developing effective approaches to facilitating rich and meaningful experiences in nature for Ottawa’s diverse student population. David first got involved with Forest School Canada in 2014 when it partnered with the OCDSB to train a cohort of teachers in forest school practitioner methodology. As it happens, David’s young daughter has been learning the forest school way since 2014 too. David believes that helping educators acquire the tools they need to integrate nature-based education into their teaching practices is the best way to get more kids learning outside.

Laura Molyneux

Facilitator

Laura Molyneux is the co-founder of Cloudberry Forest School in St. John's, NL. She is a Level IV ECE with a diploma in Early Childhood Education and a BA in Sociology/Psychology. Before Cloudberry she worked in strengths based family interventions, inclusion supports, operated a municipal pre-school and after school program and taught in the department of Child and Youth Care Work at a local community college. Growing up in Newfoundland she developed a taste for the salt-sea air and spent as much time as she could exploring the woods, bogs and cliffs of the East Coast. She started her journey into Forest School almost by accident or happy coincidence when the importance of risky play and individualized learning became very evident through a simple 15 minute outdoor based play program. From there she was introduced to the concepts of Forest School, Forest School Canada and Cloudberry's co-Founder Nora Trask. Laura's passions extend beyond just teaching the kids however as she loves to teach fellow educators and ECE students about risky play, brain development, emergent curriculum and of course Forest School!

Chloe Dragon Smith

Facilitator

Chloe is a young Metis woman from the small northern city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Of Chipewyan and European heritage, she grew up close to her Indigenous cultural values and learned traditional skills for living on the land. This northern upbringing shaped her values today.

Chloe holds a degree in Earth Science from the University of Victoria. While educated in Science, she is keenly interested and has found her niche in working with people on the social/cultural benefits of the natural world. Connecting people with Nature is important to Chloe because she loves the land and cares about conservation - but most of all, she wants to bring the wonderful feelings she's had outdoors to others. We are all part of Nature, and so spending time outdoors brings us a lot of balance. By helping to create balanced, happy people we can accomplish many societal goals, even beyond conservation.

Nora Trask

Facilitator

Sinéad Rafferty

Facilitator

Sinéad Rafferty is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and Forest School Practitioner with a Masters of Environmental Studies and a Graduate Diploma in Environmental and Sustainability Education. Her graduate research focused on pedagogies for childhood, nature and place in early childhood education, which was selected for the Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Series for the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Deeply inspired by models of Forest Schools as a form of transformative education, Sinead is moved by the momentum of forest school approaches that are rippling across Canada. Since completing her masters, Sinéad facilitates professional learning experiences on topics related to environmental education, ecological literacy and outdoor, nature-based play in early childhood. Sinéad is passionate about naturecultures of play and learning that nurtures child-educator-land worldmaking among Toronto’s urban ravine ecologies. When Sinead is not playing outside with children in her preschool and forest school programs, she is playing outside with friends and loved ones on canoe and kayak trips or encountering the nooks and crannies of Toronto’s riverscapes by boots or bicycle.

Tanya Murray

Facilitator

Tanya grew up in both urban and rural spaces climbing trees, mucking about in Ontario ravines and exploring on wilderness trips with her older brother. A dog (and now 2 nature-loving children) often by her side, she seeks out adventure and connection with the land and has always let her heart lead the way. With a background in Kinesiology and Outdoor Education from McMaster University, Tanya has worked in the outdoors as a wilderness guide, adventure education facilitator, and spent 5 years at an independent school servicing vulnerable Toronto youth. A BEd from the University of Toronto took her on a new path to ensure nature connection was accessible to all, especially in the public-school system. Tanya has been working with an Ontario school board for over 13 years and loves to learn alongside others in, around and for the environment in both conventional and alternative settings. She has taught in all divisions including a term at one of the board’s Outdoor Education Centre where she led a Ministry Pilot focused on Environmental Inquiry. Drawn to inquiry, placed-based education, and the pedagogy of Forest School, Tanya champions collaborative, transformative, responsive environments that support student voice and belonging. Over the past five years, Tanya has focused on these passions to meet educators where they are in order to shift mindsets and inspire learning - outside. Tanya recently shifted to system leadership role and supports Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Learning K-12.

Board of Directors

Profile Pic of Aron

Aron Bookman

Director

Aron is the father of four girls and enjoys sharing his love of backpacking, kayaking, hiking and swimming with them. When he’s not pursuing outdoor adventures, he practices law as a Career Partner at Carfra Lawton LLP. He is also the past president of Congregation Emmanu-El and former director of the BC Water Polo Association.
Profile Pic of Marianna

Mariana Brussoni

Director

Dr. Brussoni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She is also a scientist with the Child and Family Research Institute and the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Trained as a developmental psychologist, Mariana investigates child injury prevention, parents’ perceptions of children’s risk engagement and safety, the influence of nature-based challenging play on child health and development, and promoting developmentally appropriate opportunities for children’s risky play. Mariana enjoys putting her research into practice while hanging out with her family, enjoying the beautiful BC outdoors and travelling to far off places.

Patrice Hall

Director

Patrice Hall is an accomplished business strategist. Through her aptly named consulting business — The Hallway, she works with busy CEOs, Chief Digital Officers, and Communications Directors to build and execute successful strategies so they can achieve their targets. Her work often involves large-scale digital modernization projects and/or improving the design of digital products and services. She likes working on problems that sit at the intersection of people, design, technology and analytics. Patrice is an ardent nature lover. She spends 60-90 minutes immersed in the woods each day and says she’s the ``best version of herself” when she remains in close contact with the natural world. Patrice loves swimming, skiing, paddling, and cycling with her husband James and their two dogs Rags and Chico.

Jennifer Garrett

Director

Jennifer Garrett graduated summa cum laude from the University of Ottawa with Bachelor of Commerce Honours and went on to earn her Graduate Certificate in European Management from École Supérieure de Commerce Rouen.

Her professional experience has spanned diverse industries including construction, high tech, outdoor recreation and the charitable sector, earning her a reputation as tenacious solutions-oriented and people-focused business leader. Jenn joined Power To Be Adventure Therapy in 2009 as the Director of Operations as the organization embarked on double-digit growth serving the needs of youth and families in need of support in BC.

TJ Biemans

Director

Philippe Larocque

Teasurer

Philippe is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional (CIRP), he is currently employed for an agency of the federal government. As an accountant, Philippe has extensive experience help organizations prepare and interpret financial information. Philippe lives in Ottawa with his wife and daughter. Philippe loves spending time outdoors, especially in the winter on the slopes!

Dominique Potvin

Director

Through her work at Parks Canada, Dominique strives to enhance public appreciation and engagement towards protecting nature. Her previous role as Natural Sciences officer at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO had also allowed her to lead the development of original collaborations towards this goal by supporting the sharing of knowledge and perspectives among Indigenous Peoples, artists, academia, youth and governments. Some of her highlights include the leadership she provided towards #NatureForAll, the IUCN 2016 World Conservation Congress, Biosphere Reserves, and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Her passion towards (re)conciliation among nations has driven her involvement in Students on Ice, l’Univer Cité Libre, and implementation of the Haisla Nation – Rio Tinto Alcan Legacy Agreement.

Her training includes a B.A. in Geography/Environmental Studies, a Masters in Public Management , certification from the International Association of Public Participation, and an upbringing spent over 4 continents. She lives in Gatineau. Québec, and enjoys being an aunt, spending time in or on water, and harvesting wild foods to share with loved ones.

Karen Sparks

Director

Since 2013, Karen has held the reins as the Executive Director of Wesley Clover Parks, the flagship project of the Wesley Clover Foundation. Karen oversees all operations, activity and development at Wesley Clover Parks. Wesley Clover Parks is an outdoor recreation and learning hub that helps people connect with nature and the great outdoors in Canada’s National Capital Greenbelt.
Wesley Clover Parks was established in 2014 when the Wesley Clover Foundation took over the operations of the former Nepean National Equestrian Park and the adjacent Ottawa Municipal Campground.
With its deep community roots — Wesley Clover Parks — will grow into one of Ottawa’s robust community destinations where residents and visitors will enjoy the rural setting, the trails and the opportunities for all-season outdoor recreation, learning and sports.
Karen’s vision is also to see Wesley Clover Parks deliver a sustained and positive economic impact to the Nation’s Capital, by attracting tourists, competitors and sports teams from around the world. People from all across Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia have already chosen Wesley Clover Parks Campground as a holiday destination while enjoying the sites and activities of the region.
The Wesley Clover Foundation is committed to the evolving Wesley Clover Parks into a vibrant international hub that is recognized for World-Class Equestrian events, Nordic Skiing trails and facilities; and where the elite sports competitors meet, compete and learn about nature and how to sustain its beauty.
Profile Pic of Brett

Brett Tackaberry

Director

Brett Tackaberry is a digital solutions architect and technical director for Rebel.com, a domain name registrar and hosting company. Outside of work, he help out with a variety of initiatives around Ottawa with a focus on community building, education and helping kids. In addition to participating on the board for CNAC, Brett is: a founding member of Tech4Good Ottawa; the lead for Random Hacks of Kindness, a hackathon for social good; and a co-founder and lead for Mustaches for Kids, a fundraising initiative for Make a Wish. He has a side business including an app for landlords and a vinyl record company. Brett lives in Ottawa with his family of two boys, Emmett and Cole, and wonderful wife Anne. On the weekends you can find him in the garden, the garage or watching the boys play from the comfort of an Adirondack chair.

Jaime Chong

Director

Jaime grew up in Burnaby, BC, and as a child and adolescent, mainly got her outdoor fix in urban parks. She’s dabbled in many areas of study, including creative writing, sport science and philosophy. She eventually graduated from the University of Victoria with a BA in Environmental Studies and Psychology, then went to Antioch University in Seattle to complete her MA in Education with a specialization in Urban Environmental Education. In between and during her educational pursuits, she has studied abroad in India, was a contributing writer and Editor-in-Chief for a couple newspapers, designed a preschool playscape and community garden, taught English in Colombia, did conservation work in Costa Rica, the Galapagos and South Africa, worked at the MEC Service Centre, helped develop science curriculum in Seattle, worked at outdoor centres in the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka, painted a massive mural and gone on a few hiking and surf trips. She's currently a teacher/outdoor instructor at The Boundless School in Palmer Rapids, Ontario, and is hoping to improve her white water paddling skills.

She got involved with CNAC through the Natural Leaders Alliance and is committed to engaging more youth to the outdoors and leveraging more diverse voices in the outdoor education world.

Partners & Supporters

Partnerships are at the heart of our success at the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada. Some of our partnerships involve collaboration with governments, universities and research institutions and other community groups. Others bring us together with corporate partners who are committed to building our success through fundraising and awareness. We also value the important contributions of philanthropic organizations that support our work through their granting.

OCDSB_Official logo

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

We partner with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board to deliver play-based, inquiry-driven, emergent Forest School programming to children (and their educators) in Junior Kindergarten through to grade 6, both at our forest site and in schoolyards and Nearby-Nature. We also offer workshops and courses in land-based, play-based education for teachers and early childhood educators.

Lawson Foundation Logo

Lawson Foundation

The Lawson Foundation is a national family foundation that invests in and engages with ideas, people and organizations that contribute to the wellbeing of children and youth and their development as active and engaged members of society. The Lawson Foundation is a major funder and supporter of our work.  CNAC is one of a core group of organizations that are active in the execution of its Outdoor Play Strategy for which Lawson provides funding.

TD Bank Logo

TD Bank Group

Mountain Equipment Co-Op

Ottawa Community Foundation

Ottawa Community Housing