Hope Swinimer receives the Halifax Field Naturalists' Colin Stewart Conservation Award for 2013

Text from the presentation on March 7, 2013 at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax, Nova Scotia

By David Patriquin for the Conservation Committee of the Halifax Field Naturalists.

The Colin Stewart  Conservation Award was established in 2004 to honour a lifetime of contributions by Colin towards conservation initiatives in Nova Scotia. Colin died prematurely in 2004.  
Hope Swinimer
Hope Swinimer is the recipient of HFN's Colin Stewart Conservation Award for 2013.
For many years Colin was our Conservation Committee but he was well known and had a large influence outside of HFN. I think of 4 areas in particular:
  • Formation of the Nova Scotia Federation of Naturalists (Nature Nova Scotia).
  • Formation of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.
  • Forest Industry-Environmentalist collaboration to identify lands for wilderness protection.
  • Point Pleasant Park post-Hurricane Juan recovery plan.
In each of those areas, Colin played a key role.

The essence of his approach was pragmatism... to get parties that are routinely at odds in regard to conservation issues to talk to each other with the goal of meeting tangible objectives.
The last few days have been especially significant as the province just announced how it will meet its target of 12% protected lands and even go beyond that to 13.7% within the next 1-2 years.  We are currently at 9.3%.  The Colin Stewart Conservation Forum, named after Colin and very much an outcome of his efforts, played a pivotal role in getting us to where we are today.

So the Colin Stewart Conservation Award is given annually to an individual or group for significant conservation efforts in Nova Scotia when appropriate nominations are forthcoming.

Colin was the first recipient of the award in 2005, given posthumously.

There have been 6 subsequently:      
  • Jim Wolford (2006)
  • The Ecology Action Centre (2008)
  • Bob & Wendy McDonald (2009)
  • Richmond Campbell (2010)
  • Doug Linzey (2011)
  • Bob Bancroft (2012)
Which brings us to this year's award: it is going to Hope Swinimer for her work to rescue injured wildlife in tandem with promoting conservation of their native habitats. These are very much Colin Stewart activities.

Hope Swinimer is the founder and director of the Hope for Wildlife Society (HFWS), a non-profit organization specializing in wildlife rehabilitation and education programs.

It all began while she was working in 1995 as a Manager at the Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital when she took an injured Robin under her wing, so to speak, taking it to her home in Eastern Passage.

That began a personal quest to learn how to take care of injured wildlife and actually do it.  It was ground-breaking work.

She worked with DNR to got them involved in creating the rules for wildlife rehabs in Nova Scotia, in part so she could become licensed.

Her operation quickly outgrew her home in Eastern Passage and in 1997  she moved to  Winnie's Way in Seaforth in 1997 where she set up The Eastern Shore Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which subsequently became the Hope for Wildlife Society (HFWS).

Today Hope continues to run the HFWS as a volunteer activity from her home while working full-time as the manager of a veterinary.

She is actively involved in all aspects of the organization: daily care of patients, giving tours and talks to visitors, planning fundraising events, answering public inquiries by phone and email, procuring food and supplies for the shelter, recruiting and training volunteers, and managing finances.

Halifax Field Naturalists are certainly familiar with her outreach. She has talked to us twice I believe,  we made a field trip to the Hope for Wildlife Society, and some of our children or grandchildren have participated in their summer camp.

  To quote form the nomination:  
Hope for Wildlife is the largest private rehabilitation centre in the province.

HFWS also receives over 10,000 phone calls each year and offers advice on humane solutions to wildlife conflicts, what to do when an injured or orphaned animal is found, and dispatches volunteers to pick-up injured animals.

Over 1500 animals are brought to the centre each year.

The HFWS also has a learning centre and garden that is open to the public throughout the summer months to teach visitors to the facility about wildlife in Nova Scotia and how to live in harmony with it.
I think it is particularly fitting that the award to Hope follows that to Bob Bancroft, who has highlighted how losses of habitat are generating many of the wildlife casualties we see, and who also has shown in practical ways how we can revitalize degraded habitat for wildlife.

So Hope, we are especially pleased to present this award to you in the tradition of Colin Stewart, and are very honoured that you are accepting it.
More about the Colin Stewart Conservation Award
More about the Hope for Wildlife Society