Environment | Animal Wellfare, Conservation, Sustainability
Living Standards | Education And Learning

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Southern Alberta (CPAWS-SAB)

We are dedicated to the conservation and education of our treasured southern Alberta landscape, ensuring its health for generations to come. We are a solutions based organization that focuses on large landscape conservation and we are a leader in environmental education.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Close your eyes and picture rolling grasslands, wide blue skies, and the majestic Rocky Mountains on the horizon.  This iconic image is the southern Alberta landscape.

When Phil Nykyforuk came to live in Calgary with his family in 1993, he was awe-stricken with the beauty of southern Alberta and saw the value in protecting it. Phil had been studying at the University of Pennsylvania, and when he arrived here he spent countless weekends hiking and taking photos in Alberta’s wilderness. Phil was struck by the contrast between the state of nature in America’s industrial heartland and in southern Alberta. He realized that there was still an opportunity here to “get it right”.

Phil wanted to contribute to safeguarding this region and its wilderness values for his children and grandchildren.  This is what led him to volunteer with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Southern Alberta Chapter (CPAWS SAB).  Phil chose to volunteer and support CPAWS because:

  • He saw a non-partisan, well-respected, active, on-the-ground local chapter of a proven national organization, and one with a strong record of success in protecting public lands.
  • He valued CPAWS’ mandate of protecting parks and wilderness, using science as a base for finding solutions to conservation issues, and working cooperatively with all stakeholders.
  • He supported CPAWS Southern Alberta’s strong award-winning environmental education program and efforts to promote environmental stewardship.

Phil has been part of CPAWS Southern Alberta’s efforts for over 15 years. In that time, he has helped the beautiful Whaleback region become a protected landscape, helped get grizzly bears listed as a threatened species provincially, helped stop Bill 29 that would have decreased protection in our provincial park designation system and he has helped put a moratorium on logging in the Castle to name just a few successes.

Phil is contributing to CPAWS Southern Alberta to ensure a healthy future so that, as he has said, “his children and grandchildren won’t read a textbook and wonder about what we once had and what was lost.”

Our Impact

What We Do

Since 1963 CPAWS has led in creating over two-thirds of Canada’s protected areas. That amounts to about half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory! Our vision is that Canada will protect at least half of our public land and water.

CPAWS Southern Alberta is one of 13 chapters across the country that focuses on protecting parks and natural ecosystems. It is a leader in landscape-scale wilderness conservation, national and provincial park management, establishment and protection of parks, and environmental education.

Through our Education Programs we encourage our next generation of Canadians to enjoy our wild places and understand the importance of conserving them.  In 2015 we will reach over 100,000 students and teachers with our curriculum based programs which focus on species at risk, watershed and grizzly bear conservation, and the importance of protecting parks and wilderness.  We are also expanding our program to include adult education including new immigrants and corporate groups.

Our Programs

How We Do It

Our role is to provide landscape scale, science-based support and advice for the conservation and protection of Alberta’s protected areas and wildlands. Albertans expect that our voice is at the table to address critical environmental issues with multiple stakeholders. Some of our success include the establishment of the Bow Valley Protected Area (1988), working to get overpasses built over the trans Canada highway in Banff National Park (1995) and seeing grizzly bears listed as “threatened” under the Alberta Wildlife Act (2010).

EDUCATION | Since 1997, CPAWS SAB has provided educational opportunities to communicate conservation messaging deeper into the community.   We have reached nearly 100,000 students and teachers in Calgary and surrounding areas.  Our programs include in-class programs, hikes and teacher workshops, from Grades 2-12.  The focus of these programs includes grizzly bear ecology and conservation, endangered species and water conservation, and stewardship.  By engaging elementary and secondary students in rich science and education experiences today, we are encouraging and mentoring the environmental stewards of tomorrow.

We seek to create a community of knowledgeable empowered citizens who engage in stewardship and positive action to conserve our natural areas and wildlife. Through our programs we connect kids to nature and give them a chance to go hiking – to learn about our Environmental Education Programs, refer to this Video.

PARKS | Canada’s national are critically important for both the preservation of nature, and for people’s ability to enjoy protected nature. Dedicated by law to be used so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations, they carry the legal mandate to be managed primarily for ecological integrity.

WILDERNESS | Southern Alberta’s wilderness contains a diversity of rich and diverse landscapes. From our picturesque prairie grasslands, rolling foothills, inspiring parklands, and into our cascading epic Rocky Mountains – these places are special to us all. CPAWS SAB is dedicated to the continual protection and preservation of our wilderness spaces for us today and for our children tomorrow.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Gord James recently retired after working at Suncor Energy for 25 years, with the last ten years as the corporate controller. He has used his skills as an accountant to help in the CPAWS office and later was asked to join the Board. Over the years, Gord has volunteered for a variety of organizations and has always had a love of wilderness. His job at Suncor took him and his family from Toronto to Calgary in 1995. Gord spent much of his time in the parks of Ontario, and here he has enjoyed living near the mountains and getting to experience a different landscape. He is passionate about hiking, cycling, and running.

You can help to ensure that our children, and theirs to come, will thrill to the sight of the swift fox, the scent of sweet forest pine or the sound of the loon. Please help CPAWS to protect Canada’s precious wilderness by joining us today. See How Can I Help or options below:

Donate: You can give wildlands and wildlife in Southern Alberta a voice! By supporting CPAWS Southern Alberta you’ll help to ensure that our children, and theirs to come, will thrill to the sight of the swift fox, the scent of sweet forest pine or the call of a red-tailed hawk.

Take Action: Our current work and campaigns are outlined on our website. We help citizens make the most effective impact possible. You can add your voice for wilderness protection.

Volunteer: CPAWS Southern Alberta is looking for dedicated, energetic and motivated people with a passion for wilderness protection.


Kirsten Olson

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Southern Alberta (CPAWS-SAB)


Charitable Number: 106865272RR0001

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