ECO-HEROES

Presented each year at the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival toCanadian and International individuals whose work has had significant impact on raising awareness of environmental issues through artistic expression.

Planet in Focus Eco-Hero Awards are generously sponsored by: 

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JENNIFER KEESMAAT

2018 Canadian Eco-Hero

Jennifer Keesmaat is an urban planner passionate about creating places where people flourish. Named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by Maclean’s, and one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life, she spent five years as Toronto’s Chief City Planner, where she was celebrated for her innovative and collaborative approach to city-building. A Distinguished Visitor in Residence Emeritus at the University of Toronto, Keesmaat continues to share her vision for cities of the future, and her belief in the importance of public sector leadershipthrough a variety of publications including The Guardian, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, and on her podcast, Invisible City which can be found at www.InvisibleCityPodcast.com.  Read More

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JOHN FRANCIS

2018 International Eco-Hero

In the early 1970s John Francis gave up using motorized vehicles after witnessing the devastating effects of an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. Soon Afterwards he took an even more radical step: a vow of silence that lasted 17 years, during which he undertook a pilgrimage by foot across America on behalf of the environment and world peace, earning his Ph.D. in environmental studies along the way. Through his silence and walking, he learned to truly listen, both to other people and the world around him. Since ending his silence in 1990, Francis has served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Program, contributed to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Oil Pollution Act of 1990 Read More

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RACHEL PARENT

2018 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

This is not your average teenage girl. She’s not drawn to designer labels. She’s drawn to food labels. At 11 years old, Rachel began researching for a school project and became alarmed by what she learned about GMOs. This gave her the spark to become an activist fighting for our right to know what’s in our food by making GMO labeling a law in Canada. That spark evolved into what’s now known as Kids Right To Know, a not-for-profit organization that she founded to inform the public, especially other children, about food safety.

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In Memory of Rob Stewart, 2014 International Eco-Hero

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The Planet in Focus staff and board are heartbroken at the news of losing such a young and incredible force. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his friends and family during this difficult time. Rob was not only a friend of the festival, but a worthy Eco-Hero, honoured at the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival where both SHARKWATER and REVOLUTION have screened in the past.

Help Rob’s legacy live on by ensuring his latest film SHARKWATER: EXTINCTION is completed and shared with the world. Please donate through the PayPal link on the Official Sharkwater Website.

Make a Donation in Memory of Rob Stewart


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Dr. Roberta Bondar

2017 Canadian Eco-Hero

The world’s first neurologist in space, Dr. Roberta Bondar is globally recognized for her pioneering contribution to space medicine research. Aboard the Discovery mission STS- 42, the First International Microgravity Laboratory Read More

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Ron Finley

2017 International Eco-Hero

Armed with a shovel, some soil and seeds, Ron Finley has come to be known as the “Gangsta Gardener” and his unexpected tactics have made him one of L.A.’s most widely known artivists. Read More

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Jonah Bryson

2017 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

Born and raised in southern France, Jonah Bryson fell in love with exploring all the Mediterranean Sea had to offer, and deeply connected with the underwater world. Read More

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Alexandra Cousteau

2016 International Eco-Hero

A filmmaker, explorer, and globally recognized advocate on water issues, Alexandra Cousteau continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau Sr. Read More

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David Suzuki

2016 Canadian Eco-Hero

David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences Read More

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Vandana Shiva

2015 International Eco Hero

Dr. Vandana Shiva trained as a Physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’ from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Read More

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Amy Millan

2015 Canadian Eco-Hero

Amy joined the Canadian indie pop band Stars in 1999. Watching the political and environmental developments around seed, Amy decided to do something to address healthy food systems.  Read More

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Rob Stewart

2014 International Eco Hero

Rob Stewart’s SHARKWATER (2007) is one of the rare environmental films that reaches the consciousness of audiences world-wide and in response, a change in behavior occurs. Read More

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Tzeporah Berman

2014 Canadian Eco-Hero

Tzeporah Berman’s This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Change, details the struggles/ challenges she has faced in the environmental movement over the past two decades. Read More

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Col. Chris Hadfield

2013 International Eco Hero

Former Commander of the International Space Station, Col. Hadfield’s scientific and technical accomplishments in outer space focused world attention on the importance of the space program…,Read More

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 Zacharias Kunuk

2013 Canadian Eco-Hero

Zacharias Kunuk’s internationally acclaimed films that include; Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Ramussen, and Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, give voice to the Inuit People’s perspective…Read More

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James Balog

2012 International Eco Hero

Founder & Director, Extreme Ice Survey / Founder, Earth Vision Trust For three decades, James Balog has been a leader in photographing and interpreting the natural environment. Read More

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Jennifer Baichwal

2012 Canadian Eco-Hero

Jennifer was born in Montréal and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied philosophy and theology at McGill University and received an M.A. in 1994, supported by a McGill Major Fellowship and a 2 year FCAR Master’s Scholarship.Read More

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Ric O’Barry

2011 International Eco Hero

Planet in Focus is proud to announce our 2011 International Eco Hero, Richard O’Barry for his work protecting dolphins and marine animals worldwide. Read More

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Kevin McMahon

2011 Canadian Eco-Hero

Kevin McMahon began his career as a newspaper journalist at the St. Catharines Standard before shifting his focus to documentary film in the mid-1980s. His films have been described as “visually stunning…Read More

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Robert Bateman

2010 International Eco Hero

Robert has been a keen artist and naturalist from his early days. He has always painted wildlife and nature, beginning with a representational style, moving through impressionism and cubism to abstract expressionism. Read More

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Margaret Atwood

2010 Canadian Eco-Hero

A varied and prolific writer, Margaret Atwood is one of Canada’s major contemporary authors. Atwood’s writing is noted for its careful craftsmanship and precision of language which… Read More

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Graeme Gibson

2010 Canadian Eco-Hero

Educated at the University of Western Ontario, Graeme Gibson taught at the Ryerson Institute of Technology, later Ryerson University, from 1961-69. He later served as writer-in-residence at the University of Waterloo and…Read More

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Maude Barlow

2009 International Eco Hero

Maude is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is a board member of the San Francisco–based International…Read More

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Ian Clifford

2009 Canadian Eco-Hero

Ian Clifford is the founder and CEO of ZENN Motor Company, a Toronto-based manufacturer of fully electric vehicles. He began his career as a photographer. Mentored by Ansel Adams… Title

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CBC’s The Nature of Things

2009 Industry Eco-Hero

Award-winning geneticist and broadcaster David Suzuki is the Foundation’s co-founder with Tara Cullis. He is familiar to audiences around the world as host of CBC TV’s…Read More

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Carlo Petrini

2008 International Eco Hero

This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and made a lasting contribution to environmental awareness, action and change on the international stage. Read More

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Wayne Roberts

2008 Canadian Eco-Hero

Roberts is a pioneer and trailblazer, as a leader of the Toronto Food Policy Council since 1999, he has steered the development of such landmark documents as Toronto’s Food Charter, the Food and Hunger Action Plan…. Read More

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Edward Burtynsky

2008 Industry Eco-Hero

This award is given to an artist who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution in environmental artistic expression in their collected body of work. Read More

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Robert Redford 

2007 International Eco Hero

Renowned as a screen based artist – an Oscar award winning actor, director, producer and champion of independent cinema – but it is our pleasure to honour   Mr. Redford…Read More

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Sheila Watt-Cloutier

2007 Canadian Eco-Hero

“I do nothing more than remind the world that the Arctic is not a barren land devoid of life but a rich and majestic land that has supported our resilient culture for millennia. Read More

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Caroline Underwood

2007 Industry Eco-Hero 

Caroline Underwood has produced, directed and written over twenty award winning programs for the CBC’s science series, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki…Read More

Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, is pictured in Toronto on Sept.12, 2002. There's an urgency to Alanis Obomsawin's politically charged work, so much so that the veteran filmmaker says she's had no choice but to take on five different projects more or less at the same time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Dr. Alanis Obomsawin

2005 Industry Eco-Hero

Over the course of her remarkable and distinguished film career, Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki Nation and the Order of Canada, has been telling the stories of Aboriginal peoples in Canada… Read More

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Frédéric Back

2004 Industry Eco-Hero

Frédéric Back, OC CQ (April 8, 1924 – December 24, 2013) was a Canadian artist and film director of short animated films. During a long career with Radio-Canada, he was nominated for four Academy Awards… Read More