‘It’s hard to have a dry eye’: Megan Leslie celebrates WWF’s Climb for Nature

Our 32nd annual WWF Climb for Nature on April 21 and 22 was a wild success. More than 5,500 climbers conquered the CN Tower and our record books as they raised $1.53 million for conservation across the country.

Woman in pink shirt at the CN Tower Climb finish line
Megan Leslie at the CN Tower Climb finish line © Kevin Raposo / WWF Canada)

Moments after climbing the 1,776 steps herself, we spoke to WWF-Canada’s president and CEO, Megan Leslie, on CN Tower’s observation deck about the historic event and how this year’s Climb for Nature is bigger in more ways than one.

First off, how was your climb?

I did it! Every year, I get to the bottom of the tower and get serious butterflies in my stomach. And then I think about the butterflies, and the fact that every dollar I raise goes to helping wildlife in Canada and I’m super charged up.

Look around and hear that buzz! Everybody is so excited to be taking steps for nature. It’s a great year!

What does the Climb for Nature mean to you?

There’s a lot of salt water on me — some if it is sweat and some it is happy tears. People here are just filled with emotion. They want to do this to challenge themselves, and they also want to do this to help nature and wildlife across Canada.

I spoke to a woman today, she’s a volunteer with us — we are powered by volunteers! — and she said it was on her bucket list to volunteer for this event. That’s how much she cares about it, that’s how deeply she feels about her contribution. It’s hard to have a dry eye when people tell you how important this is and why they’re involved. The stories are really incredible.

How does seeing this huge turnout make you feel about the future?

Here’s the thing, there is a lot of dark stuff happening out there. We know there’s biodiversity loss, there’s climate change. But at WWF-Canada, we know what the solutions are, and part of it is restoring and protecting nature while fighting climate change.

Climbers on the CN Tower observation deck
Climbers on the CN Tower observation deck © WWF Canada

And everybody here — they know that there are solutions too, and they feel like they are part of the solution. And you know what? They are. It’s so inspiring to see people take action and not just say, “Oh, that’s too big for me. I can’t be involved.” They are involved. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, they are helping us climb towards a brighter future.

WWF has been doing this climb for over 30 years now, what does it allow us to do?

The CN Tower Climb is our largest fundraiser event, it is very important for us to raise this money — it’s over $1.5 million that goes directly to wildlife across Canada. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us to share our message about the solutions.

But this year, we wanted to think about how we can bring in other people from across Canada, so for the first-time ever we have the BC Climb for Nature in Vancouver on May 26. We’re doing a stadium climb in BC Place — and for all of you with a competitive spirit, it’s our first year so you can set some records!

Climbers at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Climbers at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre © Jeff Turford / WWF Canada

And if you’re not in Toronto or BC?

We have a virtual “Anywhere” climb! This tower is 1,776 steps so we’re asking people: what can you do in your home community?

Maybe you want to skip rope 1,776  times, maybe you’re going to go on a bike ride with your kids, or a hike. With the Climb for Nature x Anywhere, you can do whatever activity you want, raising money for nature and being a part of this incredible vibe that’s going on and contributing to solutions.

So, we’re pretty excited about this year!