Muhammad Qureshi (2014 recipient of a Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement)

Our natural fingerprint

The magic began on a cold autumn afternoon after a hockey game with friends. I was walking home through a trail and the leaves had turned bright yellow and deep red, and I came across a painted turtle scurrying to find its way back to a pond. A whole hour vanished as I explored a wild species in a wild space only a few moments from home. That natural experience was as much a part of my day as hanging with my friends.

At 150, Ontario's magnificent natural heritage is as much a part of Ontario as our rich cultural heritage. My vision for Ontario is to guard our natural heritage against the challenges of climate, urbanization or change in general. What is truly wonderful is that our young people especially feel that conservation of these wild spaces and wild species is a reminder of how deep our roots are in the natural world and how much we have grown, while still working to keep the natural fingerprint that makes Ontario unique. One day, a new generation will walk through the same trail and the descendants of that turtle will be there to greet them.

Photos courtesy of Muhammad Qureshi

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