Presented each year at the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival to Canadian 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: 

Esri Canada 2019


2022 Canadian Eco-Hero

Zoe received an MFA in 1977 from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and then taught part-time in the goldsmithing department. In 1974, while at NSCAD, she began working on Sable Island as a volunteer cook and field assistant with a Dalhousie University seal research team, and after a few seasons continued on the island as manager/technician for the terrain restoration program.

By 1982, Zoe was involved full-time with Sable projects, conducting various research and monitoring programs including studies of persistent litter in the marine environment, and shark predation on seals. Long-term projects include research on the island’s horses, beach surveys for oiled seabirds and stranded cetaceans, and biodiversity studies (mosses, lichens, fungi, and invertebrates). Results of research programs have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as in newsletters and magazines.

In 2002 Zoe established the Green Horse Society, in 2004 became a Research Associate with the Nova Scotia Museum, and in 2008 received an Honorary Doctorate from Dalhousie University. For ten years, Zoe partnered with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax to organize a series of annual public meetings about Sable Island.


Join us on Sunday, October 16th at 7pm for a screening of Geographies of Solitude featuring the live Eco-Hero Presentation with Zoe Lucas at the Paradise Theatre

Christiana Figueres


2022 International Eco-Hero

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and an internationally recognized leader on climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016.

During her tenure at the UNFCCC, Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°Cin order to protect the most vulnerable. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy and received multiple awards.

Since then Ms. Figueres has continued to accelerate the global response to climate change. Today she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast Outrage + Optimism and is the co-author of “The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimists’ Guide to the Climate Crisis. Ms. Figueres sits on multiple executive and advisory boards and is a frequent public speaker and media commentator. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the London School of Economics. She lives in Costa Rica and has two fantastic daughters.

Join us on Sunday, October 23rd at 6:30pm for Closing Night with Into the Ice and the live Eco-Hero Presentation with Christiana Figueres at the Paradise Theatre



2022 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

With her strong interdisciplinary background, Manvi decided to contribute to the climate justice movement through founding the national non-profit Shake Up The Establishment. Among other leadership roles in the sector, she is on advisory committees for the Canadian Coalition for Environment and Climate Justice, The Harbour and Youth Climate Corps. Manvi works to ensure intersectional and decolonized approaches are always centred within the health research space. She is also the co-founder/ director of the non-profit, missINFORMED, which is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women and gender-diverse peoples. She is a published health researcher who has worked at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Universities of Guelph, Waterloo and Dalhousie. In mid-2021, she received her MSc in Public Health and Health Systems from University of Waterloo, where her research aimed to improve climate change risk communication and investigate structural barriers towards climate action within the public health sector.  Read More
Join us on Saturday, October 15th at 7pm for a screening of Eulogy for the Dead Sea featuring the live Eco-Hero Presentation with Manvi Bhalla at the Paradise Theatre

In Loving Memory of Rob Stewart


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.

Make a Donation in Memory of Rob Stewart

Kent Monkman

2021 Canadian Eco-Hero

Kent Monkman (b. 1965) is an interdisciplinary Cree visual artist. A member of Fisher River Cree Nation in Treaty 5 Territory (Manitoba), he lives and works in Dish With One Spoon Territory (Toronto, Canada). Known for his provocative interventions into Western European and American art history, Monkman explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience—the complexities of historic and contemporary Indigenous experiences—across painting, film/video, performance, and installation.  Read more

Janine Benyus

2021 International Eco-Hero

Janine Benyus is a biologist, innovation consultant, and author of  six books, including Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In Biomimicry, she named an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes (e.g., solar cells that mimic leaves) to create a healthier, more sustainable planet. In 1998, Janine co-founded Biomimicry 3.8, the world’s leading nature-inspired innovation and training firm, bringing nature’s sustainable designs to 250+ clients. In 2006, Janine co-founded The Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit that empowers people to create  nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet.  Read More

Shina Novalinga

2021 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

Shina Novalinga s a 23-year-old Inuk creator based in Montreal, Canada. By day, Novalinga is a college student studying business management, but on TikTok, she brings her Indigenous culture (and style) to the app. According to Shina, “It’s important for me to educate others on my platform because not a lot of people know about our history, or know about the Inuit culture. It has always been brushed off. My goal is to change that and not be afraid to speak about it.” Shina has been most recently featured in Vogue, Global News, 24H, CTV News and many more.

Aliya Jasmine Sovani

2020 Canadian Eco-Hero

Aliya Jasmine is an award-winning television host, producer, and environmental journalist (M.A.) You can currently watch her on various platforms for NBC News in Los Angeles. She is also the co-founder of the environmentally focused creative think tank, Lili Media & Design Lab.  Among the many shows she helped develop at MTV Canada, MTV IMPACT was a show for millennials about social and environmental issues that sent her on assignment around the world, and set the path for her career. Read More

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

2020 International Eco-Hero

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a strategy consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the future of coastal cities. With Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, she co-edited the anthology All We Can Save, and co-founded The All We Can Save Project. Recently, Ayana co-created the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy.  Find her @ayanaelizaRead More

Cheyenne Sundance

2020 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

Cheyenne Sundance is the owner and manager of Sundance Harvest, a year-round urban farm in Toronto, ON that’s rooted in food justice. Sundance Harvest grows a variety of produce, offers a Farm School and runs a free educational program called Growing in the Margins for low-income youth who are a part of a marginalized group (BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+ and youth with disabilities).

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

2019 Canadian Eco-Hero

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta. She has worked on social, environmental and climate justice issues for the past 15 years. Currently a Fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation, Melina’s research is focused on Climate Change, Indigenous Knowledge and Renewable Energy. Read More

Louie Psihoyos

2019 International Eco-Hero

Louie Psihoyos is the Academy Award-winning filmmaker of The Cove and Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS). He is recognized as one of the top still photographers in the world, having created iconic images for National Geographic for 18 years, and hundreds of covers for other magazines. Read More

Autumn Peltier

2019 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

Autumn Peltier is Anishinaabe-kwe and a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation and an internationally recognized advocate for clean water. She is a water protector and has been called a “water warrior”. Peltier addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly on the issue of water protection at the age of thirteen in 2018. Read More

Anne Innis Dagg

2018 Canadian Eco-Hero

In 1956, before anyone, man or woman had made such a trip, 23-year-old Canadian biologist, Anne Innis Dagg, made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to become the first scientist in the world to study animal behaviour in the wild on that continent. Read More

John Francis

2018 International Eco-Hero

In the early 1970s John Francis took 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. Read More

Rachel Parent

2018 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

At 11 years old, Rachel began researching for a school project and became alarmed by what she learned about GMOs. 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. Read More

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

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

Jonah Bryson

2017 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

At the early age of 12, Jonah Bryson decided to undertake his first feature documentary and later partnered with undersea explorer and producer Fabien Cousteau to complete the documentary.

Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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