In recognition of Chris Adam’s remarkable contribution of creating a culture of sustainability and promoting the value of well-being for all at Dawson College, he will receive the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, the Governor General of Canada, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on March 21.

On the Governor General’s website, Chris’ achievement is described as follows: “Chris Adam introduced the Living Campus concept that has made Dawson College a model of sustainability and well-being. A persuasive leader and educator, he has inspired staff and students to integrate social and ecological responsibility into all aspects of the school’s teaching and operations. As a result, the connection between people, community and nature has become central to Dawson’s culture, and motivated its aspiration to being carbon-neutral forever.”

Chris joined Dawson as a teacher in the Community, Recreation and Leadership Training program in 1993. In 2017, he began working full time for sustainability at the College and in 2019, the Office of Sustainability was officially created. Today, Chris leads sustainability efforts at the College and works with a team of staff, volunteer students and colleagues across the College who have also embraced sustainability as a way to a happier future for the well-being of all.

“This award is a recognition of all of the people who have supported me personally and professionally on my journey on this wonderful planet!” said Chris in reaction to the news. He also wishes to emphasize that many people share this award. “I work with an exceptional core team that makes it a pleasure to come into work!” he said.

Since Chris opened the Office of Sustainability, Dawson:

  • Pledged to be Carbon Neutral Forever
  • Received the Gold-level accreditation from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (the first CEGEP to do so)
  • Was named Sustainability Institution of the Year by the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education’s International Green Gown Awards
  • Co-developed the Sustainable Happiness Certificate program that has been shared across Canada and around the world
  • Created the Living Campus concept that has been shared with all levels of schools across Canada

Chris holds a Master’s degree in Education and has three years experience in wildlife and fish management. His diverse career has had several chapters.

“I have been an entrepreneur since I was in my early 20’s,” Chris said. “I started a charitable organization, a not-for-profit business, and several private businesses that were all involved with developing experiential education programs (especially for children), consulting in education, and eco-landscaping projects. The CRLT program hired me to give some specialized environmental programs in the late 1980’s that led to some course offerings and eventually a full-time post.

“I taught outdoor education, entrepreneurship, program design and group leadership for several decades while volunteering to start the sustainability program at Dawson in 2006. This slowly led to release time from teaching over the years to further the sustainability objectives and eventually a management position in the newly established Office of Sustainability.”

Chris has been fortunate to work with and learn from a range of amazing people. “Some world- renowned like Jane Goodall, and others with very different, but equally important lessons, like kindergarten-aged students who continually remind us of what is important in education. The fact that over 800 species have accepted the invitation to live on the Dawson rooftops and grounds is special.”

“I think any time living things grace us with their presence, it is an evaluation that we are heading in the right direction. Learning to live with Nature, not just in it, is a life-long goal for me and any project that gets me and the community I work with closer to that goal gives me both hope and pride. The Dawson community is inspiring many educational institutions nationally and internationally and I am also proud to be part of discussions that are dealing with the greater purpose of education.”

Created by Queen Elizabeth II, the Meritorious Service Decorations recognize Canadians for exceptional deeds that bring honour to our country. The cross was originally created in 1984, for members of the military. In 1991, a medal was added to the military division, and both the cross and medal were introduced for civilians.


Chris Adam, M.Ed., M.S.M.

Chris directs the Sustainability and Living Campus Office at Dawson College in Montreal. He has been recognized nationally and internationally for designing and implementing sustainability-related projects and leadership in education and was most recently recognized with the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal, one of the highest civil awards in Canada. His background in wildlife management, leadership training and entrepreneurship provides a holistic filter through which he works. His passion is developing Living Schools that reconnect people, community and Nature.

Last Modified: March 26, 2024