Preserving Wilderness, Investing in the Future 

Inovia’s commitment to land conservation in Kenauk marks an important step in our journey to sustainability 

Have you ever imagined what Montreal would feel like without its green “mountain” towering over downtown? What if Mont-Royal park, a beloved landmark and meeting point, was just another paved over neighbourhood where only a few trees had survived urbanization?

Montreal’s Mont-Royal park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed NY Central Park) 150 years ago. Imagine how much smaller the green space would be without the foresight.

Thankfully, over the past 150 years, visionaries fought to preserve what is now recognized by Quebec as a Heritage Site. It may be a drop in the ocean, but it is a beacon for Canada’s environmental potential. Our country is home to 20% of the world’s freshwater resources and 24% of wetlands. What we do with it will have a tremendous impact on slowing climate change and protecting biodiversity for generations to come.

In this spirit Inovia is proud to support efforts by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Kenauk Institute (KI) to keep the Kenauk property, a 65,000-acre territory between Ottawa and Montreal, wild. The C$3 million contribution of Inovia partners and broader team members to the C$50 million project will help shield this extraordinary stretch of land from commercial development and create an open-air research and education laboratory.

Charting our journey toward sustainability 

Four Canadian families, including my own, started working toward conserving Kenauk a decade ago by acquiring it. This week, we announced the donation of a large portion of the land around Lake Papineau to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, pursuing the ambitious goal of preserving this unique territory in perpetuity and building an important wildlife corridor for species migration.

Kenauk and the proposed wildlife corridor are critical for species migration in the coming centuries.

My colleagues at Inovia are excited to support Kenauk as a firm, especially since they know the site well: we have made it a tradition for the whole team to run our annual retreat there, getting updates from the researchers and educators. Participating in this campaign is also of particular significance to Inovia as we chart our path toward sustainability and work to define what it means for our portfolio companies and us. 

We recognize that ESG issues are complex and that it would be easy to fall into the traps of greenwashing as we explore ways to adopt best practices. While we have a long road ahead,   we also recognize that we can’t wait to have all the answers before taking action. Supporting the preservation of land accessible within minutes from two urban centers, and therefore particularly vulnerable to development, is the first step in our journey. 

For the next 100 years, not only will animals be able to move freely in this ecological corridor between the Plaisance and Mont-Tremblant parks, but we will pass the knowledge and appreciation of biodiversity onto future generations through school visits and research. This focus on the environment and education is a natural complement to the economic, intellectual and financial wealth we’re working to build as a firm. 

Last but not least, I am proud that the Kenauk project has been met with enthusiasm by Canadians of all means. As a result, the vast majority of donations have come from Canadian individuals or companies and foundations like Dax Dasilva’s Age of Union, proving there is active leadership on environmental questions in our communities. 

This enthusiasm is giving us hope for the future. At Inovia, we take pride in building businesses for the long run. The Kenauk project also looks several generations ahead, and it takes pride in making sure our great-grandchildren get to know the nature we cherish, just as we have benefitted from the legacy of Mont-Royal protectors 150 years ago.