Weston Family Foundation
The Weston Family Foundation (formerly The W. Garfield Weston Foundation) is a dedicated friend to conservation work in Canada. With an extensive history of charitable giving, the Weston Family Foundation has generously supported hundreds of conservation projects across the country since its first gift to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in 1989.
With the introduction of the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative in March 2021, the Foundation committed nearly $25 million to protect and restore one of Canada’s most ecologically valuable and threatened ecosystems. This fund will empower multiple organizations, including NCC, to collaborate with local ranchers and other landowners or land managers to improve species at risk habitat, enable wildlife movement and increase the amount of conserved land in the Prairies. One of the largest private conservation efforts in Canadian history, the initiative aims to protect the unique ecosystem values of the prairie grasslands in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The current activity funded by the Weston Family Foundation is representative of its longstanding relationship with NCC. For over 30 years, the Foundation has helped conserve some of Canada’s most endangered natural areas across the country. In 1997, NCC and the Foundation jointly launched the Waterton Park Front Project (Alberta), a 12,950-hectare initiative that changed the course of Canadian conservation by providing the template for multiple landscape-scale projects funded by the Foundation. Other successful projects followed, including:
- Campbell River Estuary (BC)
- Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (Saskatchewan)
- Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve (Manitoba)
- Black Bay in the Lake Superior Coast Natural Area (Ontario)
- Backus Woods in the Southern Norfolk Sand Plain Natural Area (Ontario)
- Musquash Estuary (New Brunswick)
In total, more than 47,753 hectares of Canada's most ecologically significant forests, wetlands, grasslands, rivers and shorelines are conserved for the long term, as a direct result of the Foundation's gifts to conservation. In addition, through the recently announced Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative, NCC and its delivery partners are now working to provide up to 800 grants to conserve as much as 1.4 million hectares of private and privately managed grasslands in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It will also place new conservation easements on up to 20,234 hectares of high-priority grasslands.
Millions more hectares are benefiting from the Foundation’s investment in NCC's core science work, in part through the Weston Family Conservation Science Fellowship Program. While supporting and training the next generation of conservation science leaders, NCC applies the research generated by Weston Family Conservation Science Fellows to improve land management practices across the country. This research informs ongoing stewardship efforts to help protect important natural areas, and by extension, the rich biological diversity that is critical to maintaining resilient ecosystems.
For three generations, the Foundation has maintained a family tradition of helping charitable organizations enhance the well-being of Canadians, championing world-class health research and innovation with the same passion that it supports initiatives to protect and restore biodiversity on our unique landscapes. The Foundation marked its 60th year of philanthropy in 2020. On this occasion, NCC also celebrated 30 years of the Foundation’s conservation leadership in helping protect some of Canada’s most ecologically significant places. These are the Weston Family Foundation and NCC’s gifts to Canadians, our children and our grandchildren. On behalf of all Canadians, our most sincere thanks to the Weston Family Foundation for its dedication to conservation. We are proud to continue to move forward together.
For additional information on the work of the Weston Family Foundation, please visit westonfoundation.ca.