I’m Kaitlyn, and I believe that we all have the right to live in a healthy environment. Regardless of our income or the colour of our skin, each of us has a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat food grown in uncontaminated soil.
Around the world, more than 150 countries have legally recognized the right to a healthy environment. But in Canada, our laws have yet to explicitly recognize this fundamental human right — a failure that disproportionately impacts low income populations, Indigenous communities, and other historically disadvantaged groups in Canadian society.
Today, on Human Rights Day, I want to share my holiday wish: For Canada to recognize, respect and fulfill our right to a healthy environment.
Why are environmental rights important? Picture where you live. Now imagine your community surrounded by chemical plants and oil refineries that emit tens of millions of kilograms of air pollutants each year. Your friends and family breathe this polluted air. People in your community report high rates of asthma, miscarriage, and certain kinds of cancer. On more than one occasion, you have awoken to someone banging on your door warning of an evacuation alert because of an incident at a nearby chemical plant.
This is the hard reality for Ada Lockridge and Vanessa Gray, two of Ecojustice’s clients. They are members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation — a small community surrounded by Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, where air pollution threatens their community’s security, health and wellbeing. Thanks to your support, we’re helping them use the law to defend their right to a healthy environment and hold polluters to account.
We have started to see promising developments. After years of foot dragging, the Ontario government had finally committed to fund a health study and update Sulphur dioxide air quality standards. But there is more urgent work to be done.
Please help us stand up for Ada and Vanessa — and every Canadian — by making a gift today in support of our work to advance environmental rights in Canada.
Kaitlyn Mitchell, Lawyer
P.S. Ecojustice represents all of its clients free of charge. Your donation helps retain experts, run costly litigation, and advocate for strong laws and policies that protect our environment. Please give today.