It takes a special kind of person to turn a personal tragedy into a beautiful legacy.
“Nature heals us,” says Heather McLeod. When Ms. McLeod lost her daughter, she turned to nature for comfort, reconnecting with her Saskatchewan roots. While grieving, she remembered the book Old Man on His Back, written by Sharon Butala about her husband Peter’s family ranch of the same name. Together the couple worked with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to conserve the ranch. Ms. McLeod’s grandfather grew up on an old homestead in Saskatchewan near OMB, and she felt a connection to the Butalas’ story.
On the anniversary of her daughter Ella’s death, Ms. McLeod visited OMB with her mother and was able to find solace on the land. Her gratitude for this healing experience inspired her to help NCC to care for the land there. “We all have our time,” said Ms. McLeod, “and no matter what our lives add up to, it always helps to heal the Earth.”
Ms. McLeod wanted her daughter’s brief life to be celebrated, so she established a gift of life insurance. She named NCC as the beneficiary of this gift, so that Ella’s memory could live on in the natural places that will be protected. “It’s an affordable way to be a significant contributor,” she explains.
Many forward-thinking Canadians like Ms. McLeod have entrusted the Nature Conservancy of Canada with generous legacy gifts. NCC is rated by MoneySense magazine as one of the most responsible and effective charities in Canada. NCC donors are confident their gifts will be invested wisely.
Ms. McLeod chose to give to NCC because she likes the organization’s approach. “NCC looks at what would help the most. In some cases, they let the Earth be, where in others they help it along with restoration.” She is comforted by the opportunity to be a part of the solution, she says. “I like knowing that these wild places are staying natural with our help, not just despite our mistakes.”
NCC uses proven scientific methods to identify which lands are the top priorities for conservation. But with development and other changes to Canada’s landscapes, it’s difficult to predict where the highest priorities will be in 10, 20 or 30 years. This means that NCC must continually recalibrate its targets to ensure that its actions are having the most impact.
“Our work is about the future,” says John Lounds, NCC’s president and CEO. “Bequest investments ensure that we’ll be able to continue to protect natural lands forever. They provide the ready funds we need for emergency purchases today and help us leverage funds from other sources.
“In addition, they fund the long-term management of the lands we’ve conserved together – so that each new generation of Canadians can enjoy them.”
Today, Heather McLeod has two young sons, and they love to spend time in nature together.
“We all have our time, and no matter what our lives add up to, it always helps to heal the Earth.”