On April 22, 1970, a crowd gathered by the polluted Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, to protest environmental catastrophes. They sang “give Earth a chance.” That was the first Earth Day. This year marks the 54th anniversary and, to celebrate, we’re answering your top questions about Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day!

Why is Earth Day on April 22?

To answer that one, let’s head to Ecojustice on Instagram for a quick history lesson.

Did you catch it? That’s right, Earth Day is observed on April 22 in part because it fell between colleges’ spring break and final exams, maximizing student participation.

Who started Earth Day and why?

Just like Ecojustice, Earth Day was founded in reaction to a devastating oil spill. On January 28, 1969, an oil well blew at Union Oil’s offshore platform in the Santa Barbara Channel, leading to one of the worst oil spills in U.S. waters.

In the aftermath, Senator Gaylord Nelson wanted to bring the same energy to a pro-environment movement. He announced the idea for a teach-in and brought on Denis Hayes, a young activist, to bring the plan to life.

Why do we celebrate on Earth Day?

From the start, Earth Day has been about the power of community. The 1970 Earth Day brought around 20 million people together from all walks of life — young, old, urban, rural — and gave them a shared purpose. And it worked. The extraordinary protests across the United States led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and landmark laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Those laws have saved millions of lives.

Right now in Canada, we’re celebrating something special. After years of working with key partners and decision-makers, we’ve secured both a strengthened Canadian Environmental Protection Act and Canada’s first environmental racism law. Both of which better protect the environment and the health of all people in Canada.

Changing the law takes time, and we’re only able to continue this work thanks to supporters like you.

What can I do this Earth Day 2024?

As an environmental charity, Earth Day provides Ecojustice with one of our biggest fundraising opportunities of the year. We rely entirely on donations to fund the work that we do — from representing clients who couldn’t otherwise afford it, to working with governments to draft new legislation to meet the urgency of the climate and ecological crises.

So give now and your donation will be matched. That’s twice the funds to support:

  • Our lawyers keeping oil and gas developments at bay.
  • Our scientists fighting to ban cancer-causing pesticides and stop toxic pollution.
  • Our policy experts building better environmental legislation.
  • Our law reform team ensuring Canada protects 30 per cent of lands and oceans by 2030.

P.S. If you have any photos from your community’s Earth Day celebrations, we’d love to see them! Please feel free to share on social media and tag us @ecojustice_ca