The Roberta Bondar Foundation was established in July 2009 as a registered not-for-profit charity under the Income Tax Act of Canada. A significant donation of fine art photography by Dr. Roberta Bondar, a professional nature and landscape photographer trained at the Brooks Institute of Photography in California, comprise the basis for the Foundation’s exhibitions and learning materials. Her space experience as a crew member aboard the space shuttle Discovery left her with a whole new view of science, herself and the future of planet Earth. As a medical doctor, her perspective on medicine also changed to encompass more than her specialties of neurology and space medicine to include the health of the environment.
The Signature Programs of the Foundation
The Travelling Exhibition and Learning Experience had its inaugural opening at the First Canadian Place Gallery in Toronto, Ontario in the Spring of 2011. Touring communities for several months at a time, the Exhibition has as its first theme, Biodiversity and Extinction. The Exhibition is an opportunity for human reflection and helps people understand the diversity of species that provides ecosystem services; their importance to sustaining human lives; the natural beauty that is present on our planet. The Exhibition’s theme and other activities of the Foundation help forge an emotional bond between nature and the individual.
A fundamental belief that underpins the work of the Foundation is: the more we learn about our environment and the better we become at asking important questions, the better equipped we will be both to respond to change and to influence positive change. Addressing the growing nature deficit in society, The Roberta Bondar Foundation helps cultivate in all ages a sense of awe, respect and appreciation for other life forms that share our planet. The Bondar Challenge was created as an accompanying program of the Travelling Exhibition – a hands on field-based experience that promotes environmental education across all age groups through photography. Over the years, the Bondar Challenge was adapted to different learning environments, from schools to summer camps to wilderness settings.