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Outdoor Play Canada serves to build and support the growing network of leaders and organizations working together to galvanize an outdoor play movement across Canada.

Our Vision

Outdoor play is a valued part of daily life for all people living in Canada.

Our Mission

Outdoor Play Canada is a national organization that brings together advocates, practitioners, researchers and partner organizations to promote, protect, and preserve access to play in nature and the outdoors for all people living in Canada. Outdoor Play Canada provides leadership to galvanize the outdoor play movement across Canada to promote the health and wellness of Canadians and the environments in which we live.

The work we support and lead is at its core about repairing our relationship with the land, and with each other as caretakers and stewards of the land. We acknowledge the traditional land defenders who have been here for millennia, and who are still here. When we look around us, breathe the fresh air, admire the rich biodiversity, this is an opportunity to thank the ancestors who sustain these lands so that we can benefit from them today. In our work, we strive to consider how future generations will benefit from the time, energy, and intention we put into it. We have a responsibility to carry forward these teachings.

Outdoor Play Canada is based in Ottawa, on the un-ceded and un-surrendered Mohawk, Algonquin, and Anishinaabe territory. Our treaties challenge us to see our common purpose, share the gifts of the land, and step into our role as caretakers.

We commit to promoting, supporting, and applying an equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity (EDII) lens and a continuous improvement approach to our work. This is in alignment with the action items identified within the Outdoor Play in Canada: 2021 State of the Sector Report priority on Advocating for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Outdoor Play.

Our Team

OPC Board of Directors


Mark Tremblay, Ph.D., President

Senior Scientist, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group



Heather Cowie, Vice President

General Manager, Community and Protective Services at City of Fort Saskatchewan



Matt Leung, Treasurer

Program Manager, Alberta Recreation & Parks Association



Eun-Young Lee, Ph.D., Secretary

Assistant Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University



Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Ph.D., General Member

Associate Professor within the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto



Mariana Brussoni, Ph.D., General Member

Professor, The University of British Columbia



Jane Cawley, MEd, General Member

Educational Consultant


Kim only

Kim Hiscott, General Member

Executive Director, Andrew Fleck Children's Services


Terry Fox monument in St Johns

Richard Larouche, Ph.D., General Member

Associate Professor, The University of Lethbridge



Raktim Mitra, Ph.D., General Member

Director and Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and co-Director of TransForm Research Laboratory, Toronto Metropolitan University


Angel Suarez Tree Pic – Copy

Angel Suarez Esquivel (he/him), RECE

Outdoor Educator, Humber Arboretum Nature Centre


meganzeni headshot

Megan Zeni, PhD candidate, General Member

Early Learning & K-7 Curriculum Implementation Teacher Consultant, SD #38 Room to Play Consulting


OPC Staff


Louise de Lannoy, Ph.D., Executive Director


Headshot_2020 copy

Maeghan James, Ph.D., Post-doctoral fellow, HALO Research Group & Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play



Bayan Kaid, RECE, 2024-2025 Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play Fellow



Paula ter Huurne, RECE, Project Coordinator


*NEW* We now deliver outdoor play workshops to support advocates, practitioners and organizations in their outdoor play work.

Our Champion Members

Rekesh Corepal, Manager for Physical Activity Programs, BC Alliance for Healthy Living

Matt Leung, Program Manager, Alberta Recreation & Parks Association

Mavis Lewis Webber, ECE Consultant

Kimberly Squires, PhD, RECE, OCT, Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph

Mark Tremblay, OPC President and Senior Scientist, HALO Research Lab

Past Champion Members

Katy Cameron, Carleton University MSc HSTP student with the HALO Research Lab

Ryan Francis, Manager, Provincial Outreach & Coordination, Government of Nova Scotia

Margaret Fraser, Co-founder and Co-director of Metalude

Jennifer Leo, Director, The Steadward Centre, University of Alberta

Shelagh Pyper, BSc, Principal of Fuse Consulting

Stephanie Rivera, Waste Reduction Manager with Ecosource

The history of outdoor play advocacy, practice and research in Canada is diverse and strong. Recently, there has been a marked increase in multi-sector efforts to align our work and build a movement together. This timeline captures only some of the pivotal way points and events that are contributing to our momentum. It is important for the outdoor play story in Canada to honour the work of leaders who have paved the way, to build on each other’s work and respect the cultural and historical relevance of all of our work.

September 28, 2023

The 2023 Outdoor Play Canada Awards are awarded: (1) Honour Award: Dr. Beverlie Dietze, (2) Dr. Mariana Brussoni Award: Megan Zeni, (3) Policy Award: Laura Molyneux and Cloudberry Forest and Nature School, (4) Practice Award: Dorothy Penner (5) Research Award: Dr. Mariana Brussoni (6) Youth Award: Xandria Reece.

September 27, 2023

The 2023 Breath of Fresh Air Outdoor Play Summit hosted by Outdoor Play Canada is held at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON.

January 31, 2023

Outdoor Play Canada officially becomes a not-for-profit organization!

October 18, 2022

Outdoor Play Canada in collaboration with the CHEO Research Institute, Andrew Fleck Children's Services, and Algonquin College are awarded $2.1M in memory of John and Susanne Graham to launch the Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play.

October 6, 2021

The 2021 Outdoor Play Canada Awards are awarded: (1) Honour Award: Child Nature Alliance of Canada, (2) Dr. Mariana Brussoni Award: Brenda Simon and Linda Naccarato, (3) Policy Award: Mike Arthur, (4) Practice Award: Janna Sullivan, Aleesha Bird, Joanne Dunn, Meera Bandechha (5) Research Award: Dr. Trish Tucker.

October 6, 2021

The Outdoor Play in Canada: 2021 State of the Sector Report is launched at the 2021 Breath of Fresh Air Summit.

October 6-7, 2021

The second biennial Breath of Fresh Air Summit is held online with only the OPC Leadership Group convening at Wesley Clover Parks.

April 2021

OPC receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Connection Program to translate all elements on the website including the Outdoor Play in Canada: 2021 State of the Sector Report into French.

January 19, 2021

The Lawson Foundation invests $4.95 million in eight outdoor play projects, including OPC.

June 2020

OPC receives funding from an anonymous donor to develop the Outdoor Play in Canada: 2021 State of the Sector Report.

March 2020

The World Health Organization announces a global pandemic. OPC publishes the statement 'Should I go outside in the COVID-19 era?' leading to a 100-fold increase in visits to the OPC website.

Winter 2020

As part of the process of developing the application for Phase Two of OPS, OPC determines the following strategic priorities: 1) provide leadership and strategic direction for the outdoor play sector; 2) serve as a central portal of credible information on the outdoor play sector in Canada; 3) amplify efforts and successes related to outdoor play; and 4) convene and facilitate collaborations among members of the outdoor play movement.

Winter 2020

The Lawson Foundation announces Phase Two of their Outdoor Play Strategy (OPS) and their plan to fund projects focused on building capacity to implement and support outdoor play in early childhood.

September 28, 2019

The inaugural Outdoor Play Canada Awards are awarded: (1) Honour Award: The Lawson Foundation, (2) Dr. Mariana Brussoni Award: Dr. Mariana Brussoni, (3) Policy Award: The City of Calgary, Parks and Recreation, (4) Practice Award: Maple Ridge Environmental School, (5) Research Award: Dr. Ian Janssen, (6) Youth Award: Chloe Dragon Smith.

September 27, 2019

Outdoor Play Canada is launched at the Breath of Fresh Air Outdoor Play Summit in Ottawa.

September 27-29, 2019

The first Canadian Outdoor Play Summit takes place at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, and Wesley Clover Parks Campground.

October 24-26, 2018

Lawson Foundation hosts the Outdoor Play & Early Learning Policy Research Invitational Symposium in Toronto.

June 1, 2018

The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) Statement supports and endorses the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play developed by a coalition of organizations in 2015, which states: ``Access to active play in nature and outdoors-with its risks-is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children's opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings-at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.``

May 30, 2018

A Common Vision for Increasing Physical Activity and Reducing Sedentary Living in Canada: Let’s Get Moving is released in May, 2018 by the Government of Canada.

May 8-10, 2018

Gathering Strength: Framework for Recreation in Canada Forum, Regina - May 8-10, Canadian Parks and Recreation Association.

Parks for All

Parks for All, An Action Plan for Canada’s Parks Community embeds outdoor play within some strategic action items as an essential part of strengthening children’s connection to nature. Canadian Parks Council and Canadian Parks and Recreation Association.


#Nature4All in Canada was formed as a collaborative of partners working together to advance the #nature4all movement in Canada. Outdoor Play Canada is a contributor to this collective impact model.

September 13-16, 2017

Unleashing the Power of Play 20th International Play Association (IPA) Triennial World Conference, Calgary - Sept. 13-16

June 26-28, 2017

Moving Research to Action for Healthy Kids Children’s Health and the Environment Workshop and Symposium, London, ON - June 26-28

April 18-21, 2017

Children Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids, Child and Nature Network International Conference, Vancouver, B.C.

March 8-11, 2017

Parks, Protected Areas, Open Spaces and Public Places, Canadian Parks Conference - Banff, AB. Keynotes and workshops focused on health, nature and play.

February 2017

Formation of Outdoor Play Canada, a growing network of multi-sector leaders working collaboratively to grow the outdoor play movement in Canada.

December 2016

Ontario Trillium Foundation invests in the development of Outdoor Play Canada through the collective impact stream of funding.

Fall 2016

Initial development of the Outdoor Play Strategic Impact Plan.

June 2016

Canadian Outdoor Play Working Group transitions to design a collective impact model and process with national scope and provincial application in Ontario.

April 2016

Ontario Trillium Foundation funds an initial stage of an Outdoor Play Collective Impact project.

April 2016

Canadian Parks Summit - Canmore, AB - Parks for All document drafted. Canadian Outdoor Play Working Group provides input to include the role of outdoor play as integral for building a child’s connection with nature.

March 31, 2016

Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released the report, Obesity in Canada - A Whole of Society Approach for a Healthier Canada, including a few recommendations to encourage and enable outdoor play.

January 2016

Lawson Foundation Outdoor Play Strategy launched, with an initial investment of $2.7 million between 2013-2018 in outdoor play initiatives across Canada. The Lawson Foundation's total investment in outdoor play has now reached almost $5 million.

September 2015

Supreme Court of British Columbia accepted the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play and 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card as ‘social fact’ and ‘authority’ evidence and ruled in favour of the District of Saanich that it was not negligent in a case involving a child and outdoor play (a game of grounders).

June 2015

Position Statement Strategic Planning Meeting - Ottawa, ON. Position Statement on Outdoor Active Play partners and community experts identified stakeholder gaps & a dissemination strategy.

June 9, 2015

Release of the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play.

June 9, 2015

Release of the ParticipACTION 2015 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

February 12-13, 2015

Provincial and Territorial Ministers endorsed and the Government of Canada supported the Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015. The announcement took place at the 2015 Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation.

January 2015

Position Statement Working Group initiated the Position Statement draft process at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto, lead by Dr. Mark Tremblay and the CHEO-HALO research group.

November 2014

Recreation Framework Summit - Toronto. Endorsement of A Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015 – Pathways to Wellbeing.

Spring 2014

Systematic reviews initiated to gather evidence: 1. What is the relationship between outdoor time and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and physical fitness in children? 2. What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children?

February 2014

Canadian Parks Council releases the report, Connecting Canadians with Nature.

November 5-7, 2013

Canadian Injury Prevention & Safety Promotion Conference – Montreal - pre conference workshop Risky Play Symposium, As safe as possible or as safe as necessary - can injury prevention include healthy risk promotion? The resulting paper was published, Can child injury prevention include healthy risk promotion?

May 2013

Active Canada 20/20 National Roundtable - New Brunswick. Active Play Action Group formed.

April 17, 2013

Committee on the Rights of the Child provides General comment No. 17 (2013) on the right of the child to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts (art. 31).


Right in Principle, Right in Practice, Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Canada, Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children.


Active Canada 20/20, the national physical activity sector strategic plan, was launched and includes references to the need for ‘spontaneous’ play within the context of physical activity.

May 29, 2012

Is Active Play Extinct?, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth includes the outdoor and nature indicator and highlights play as an essential part of child and youth physical activity levels.

September 2011

Healthy by Nature Conference - multi-sector dialogue to support the connection between human health and nature. Vancouver, BC.

November 2010

Healthy Children Healthy Spaces Conference - Ottawa, ON. Hosted an indicator workshop for the development of an outdoor and nature indicator to be included in the 2011 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card.

December 13, 1991

Canada ratifies United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).


Provide leadership and strategic direction for the Outdoor Play sector.
Serve as a central portal of credible information on the Outdoor Play sector in Canada.
Amplify efforts and successes related to Outdoor Play.
Convene and facilitate collaborations among members of the Outdoor Play movement.

Is our website missing important outdoor play content?

We believe that outdoor play is important for the physical, mental, emotional, and social health and well-being of all persons.