Montreal

Quebecers give thanks to nature, hug trees across province

The Thanks to Nature event is in its third year, and is taking place in eight parks across the province, two of them national and five provincial.

Thanks to Nature event is taking place in 8 parks

Ash Hayut hugs a tree in Montreal's Île-de-la-Visitation nature park as part of an event that aims to get people to connect with nature. (Valeria Cori-Mannochio)

As families gather around the dinner table for Thanksgiving, one Quebec organization is encouraging them to give thanks to nature — something some say doesn't happen often enough.

The Thanks to Nature event took place Sunday in parks across the province. Participants were invited to make a wish to a tree, or give it a big hug.  

"The idea is to bring people to connect again with nature by … making an emotional link to nature," said Alain Branchaud, the initiative's organizer and the executive director of SNAP, the Quebec branch of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

The event is in its third year, and is taking place in eight parks across the province, two of them national and five provincial.

'The idea is to bring people to connect again with nature by … making an emotional link to nature,' said organizer Alain Branchaud, who dressed up as a caribou in Montreal's Île-de-la-Visitation nature park on Sunday. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio)

Several activities were organized to help rekindle people's connection to nature, including learning the six different ways to hug a tree, and making a wish for nature at a special "wishing tree."

Attendees were also encouraged to take a very slow walk through the park, to soak in every leaf.

"Nature is our first ally to fight against climate change, and fight against the biodiversity crisis, so we really need to protect nature," Branchaud said.

The initiative also collects donations for youth programs and conservation initiatives, according to SNAP's website. Last year, the event raised around $15,000 — this year, the goal is $40,000.

Thanks to Nature participants were invited to make a wish to a tree. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio)

Branchaud says he wants participants to "receive a big dose of 'Vitamin Nature.'"

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio 

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