Blog: Faces of CELA, Krystal-Anne Roussel

1) What is your role and how long have you been involved with CELA?
I have been an articling student at CELA since July 2020. Before that, I volunteered with CELA as a law student in 2019 and I have been following CELA’s work closely for years.

2) What inspired you to get involved in environmental law and public policy?
Ever since I was little, I have always loved being outdoors, and being surrounded by nature and wildlife. Spending most of my summers in rural New Brunswick, I quickly became aware of the environmental devastation wreaking havoc on low-income communities and wildlife. I chose to go to law school because I wanted to understand how the law could be used to improve environmental protections for humans and animals alike.

3) What’s the most rewarding part of working with CELA?
A big part of the work I do at CELA involves responding to legal inquiries from the public. More often than not, these inquiries come from individuals who are deeply and personally affected by environmental problems. The most rewarding part of my job is being able to provide answers, guide these individuals through the complex legal frameworks that surround their problems, and help them move forward.

It is also incredibly rewarding to be part of an organization that is at the forefront of environmental law reform and is constantly pushing for our existing laws to be enforced –– these are both critical parts of protecting people and the environment in Canada.

4) What do you think is Canada’s biggest environmental challenge today?
It’s a toss-up between acting too slowly and acting retroactively. The climate crisis is hitting us hard and fast, and I don’t think we are ready to respond in the same way, particularly if the current trend of backsliding on our environmental protections persists.

5) How do you think we can best approach this challenge?
I think a two-pronged approach is really necessary here. First, it is important to get all levels of government working towards stronger, more enforceable environmental legislation. As it stands, our environmental laws are full of lofty goals and ambitions but provide far too much discretion in terms of when and how to carry out duties and responsibilities. Meaningfully enforceable laws are the only way to be proactive in terms of the challenges we will face as a result of climate change. Second, it is important to provide legal education to the public so that they can better understand the laws that protect them from environmental harm and feel empowered to get involved in discussions about building better environmental policies.

6) If you were the Leader of the World, what environmental law or policy would you implement?
I would implement a policy to encourage and incentivize research and innovation in green energy and technology, particularly in the transportation and agriculture sectors. I think this would really help some of the biggest polluting industries move towards more sustainable, environmentally-sound practices.

7) When you’re not working on environmental issues, what do you like to do?
In my spare time, I love spending time outdoors – hiking, swimming, canoeing, camping, and just generally lazing about in the sun with my cats.