In 2009, at the age of 21, he was one of six recipients of North America’s top environmental prize for youth, the Brower Youth Awards. He won the award for his efforts to protect millions of acres of forest.
According to the California-based Earth Island Institute, which hosts the awards, Bryan divided his time between attending classes at Winnepeg University and organizing rallies, speaking with elected officials, delivering classroom presentations about the issue, raising funds, and organizing volunteers.
Originally from the hamlet of Prawda, about 95 kilometers southeast of Winnipeg, Bryan’s home community is close to the world’s largest single-land storehouse of carbon and most abundant source of fresh water, the boreal forest of the East Shore Wilderness Area in Manitoba and Ontario.
As a young activist canvassing with the Wilderness Committee , Canada’s largest membership-based, citizen-funded wilderness protection group, Bryan said he began to realize how much is at stake, locally and globally, if the ecology of the province isn’t protected in large sections.
“I also began to realize just how unregulated and destructive industrial logging and mining have been in Manitoba,” he said. “If I didn’t begin to dream big, act fast, and lead by example, I felt that I would have to sit back and watch a historic opportunity to stand up for public lands and protect the second-largest wild area in the biosphere pass me by.”
In 2008, Bryan was rewarded for his efforts when the provincial government announced in its legislative throne speech that it was banning logging in four of the five parks that had logging operations.
Bryan is now campaigning for the protection of the East Shore Wilderness Area, encompassing more than 250,000 square kilometers of Ontario and Manitoba.
Bryan’s efforts to hold industry accountable and defend natural areas continue unabated to this day.
Sources: Brower Youth Awards, CBC