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2017 Outdoor entrepreneur Awards

We think our Outdoor Nation collaborators are kind of a big deal. To honour these inspiring Canadians who help their communities get outside and active, MEC is awarding each a $10,000 grant to support their ongoing leadership and innovative work.

Chasing Sunrise

Co-founders Julian DeSchutter and Gordon Swenson

Following a 3-week personal challenge that required them to wake up at 4:30am for three weeks, friends Julian and Gordon decided to celebrate with a sunrise hike on Day 22. That morning, as they watched the sun come up over BC’s Coast Mountains, Chasing Sunrise was born. Since then they’ve been inspiring people across the nation to get more out of life – more experiences, more adventures, more mind-blowing memories – with weekly community outings, sunrise hikes, yoga sessions and spontaneous camp-outs.

How’d they go from a tiny crew watching the sunrise to a cross-nation community making things happen?

Les Chevres de Montagne

Founder Maryse Paquette

Maryse founded Les Chevres de Montagne to provide women with the knowledge and experience they need to build confidence and have fun in nature. Her team of outdoor enthusiasts lead after-work events, day outings, weekend ventures, and even trips abroad. Hangouts run the gamut from climbing weekends, canoe camping and mountain bike camps to kite surfing sessions, longboarding meetups, backcountry ski tours, and more. These programs connect women who are passionate about learning and growing in the great outdoors and turn their enthusiasm into a solid and flourishing community.

Learn how Les Chevres de Montagne turns newbies into outdoor nuts.

Surf the Greats

Founder Antonio Lennert

As the founder and Chief Experience Officer of Surf the Greats, Antonio is at the heart of northern surf culture. He and his surf crew lead beach cleanups, educational workshops and meet-ups in hopes of instilling a need to act in the local surf community. For Antonio, Surf the Greats is the manifestation of passion for adventure, exploration and the power of nature – something that was ingrained in him in Brazil before moving to Toronto in 2009. Now his passion project is a trip and events company, a shop and cafe, a surf school and a movement.

 Find out how Antonio rode a love-of-surf wave into a successful Toronto business.


Co-founders Alex Berlyand and Boris Issaev

Boris’s personal experience as a new Canadian with little access to outdoor areas was the catalyst for he and Alex to create Parkbus, a transportation initiative that takes urbanites out to parks and wild spaces not easily accessible by transit. Since Parkbus’ inception in 2010, the duo has teamed up with Ontario Parks and Parks Canada, brought home a Tourism Entrepreneurship Award, and expanded service to BC Parks destinations as well as a Halifax to Kejimkujik National Park route.  

Learn how the pair expanded their barrier-busting bus service across the country.

Plein Air Intercultural

Founder Adrienne Blattel

As an avid outdoorswoman, Adrienne has been getting outside with friends and outdoor club members as well as leading outings and trips for years. In 2010, she decided to kick things up a notch with the launch of the Plein Air Interculturel program through the Milton Park Recreation Association. The initiative introduces new Canadians living in Montreal to fun outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, canoeing and hiking.

How’d she go from working at non-profits to welcoming new Canadians with open-air activities?


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