Wendy Francis, one of Canada’s senior conservationists, has spent most of her career advocating for wilderness and wildlife. Her love of nature was nurtured during her childhood in Ontario, where she spent all weekends and summer holidays outside in neighborhood woods or at the family cottage near Algonquin Provincial Park.
Wendy cut her teeth on conservation issues as a volunteer with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) in Calgary, participating in successful public campaigns to oppose development in Banff National Park. In 1991, then-Premier Ralph Klein appointed Wendy to a review panel that helped strengthen the province’s environmental protection legislation. In 1996, she decided to make her career in conservation, later helping to protect southern Alberta’s Whaleback region, create Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, and secure provincial park protection for Kananaskis Country. In addition to creating a new Endangered Species Act for Ontario, Wendy was also key to launching the Canadian Boreal Initiative, which led to Ontario’s commitment to protecting 50% of its northern boreal forest.
Educated in biology and environmental law, Wendy was the founding Conservation Director for CPAWS in Calgary, Director of Conservation Science for Ontario Nature in Toronto, and Program Director for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. In 2012, she received both a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and Wilburforce Foundation’s Conservation Leadership Award for her efforts. Now semi-retired, Wendy is the part-time Executive Director of the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation. She spends as much time as possible in the natural world, hiking, backpacking and cross-country skiing. She lives in Gibsons, British Columbia.