Blog: Faces of CELA, Laura Tanguay

What is your role and how long have you been involved with CELA?
I’m the Water Policy Coordinator, and I’ve been working at CELA for about a month! Though, I’ve benefitted from CELA’s many webinars, blogs, and other outputs of public legal education for about a decade, and have applied CELA’s critical examination of the many environmental issues we are confronted with as Ontarians as teaching resources for about half a decade.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law and public policy?
I’ve always been an empath, and so many of the concerning observations I’ve made in my life (including impacts of suburban sprawl, lack of rigorous waste management systems in rural areas, PCBs found in breast milk, severe reductions of cod stocks and other fish species); these are all situations that result in (environmental) injustice, and I quickly learned that environmental law and policy are some of the best tools we have to mitigate the impacts.

What’s the most rewarding part of working/volunteering with CELA?
Working with some of the smartest and most impactful folks in the sector, and sharing a passion with my colleagues. I’ve had sincere and thoughtful mentorship so far and I’m grateful for having continuous opportunities to learn and grow and having a genuine opportunity to make change for the most impacted Ontarians and beyond.
What do you think is Canada’s biggest environmental challenge today?
I think it might be managing the impacts of the solutions that are on the table to combat climate change.
How do you think we can best approach this challenge?
To keep up with evolving modernity, humanity is asking a lot from the planet. I’m pretty interested in theories of degrowth, and how we might go about asking less of the environment as a whole. In my experience, following the lead of Indigenous land and water guardians, and offering all that I have as support has been the most clear approach forward. Indigenous communities have been stewards of the land long before colonization, so respecting Indigenous laws and jurisdiction, and giving decision-making authority to communities whose rights will be impacted by settler infrastructures makes a lot of sense to me.
If you were the Leader of the World, what environmental law or policy would you implement?
Leader of the world! hoo! I would never want me (or anyone else, haha) to have that role! I did have a student once suggest that an effective tool for waste management and environmental education would be that every single thing a household purchases over the course of a year would have to remain in their household, without the option of throwing it away (with the exception of compost). There are a lot of potential equity issues here (some households are tremendously larger than others!) but I like this idea a lot. 

When you’re not working on environmental issues, what do you like to do?
I love to read, spend time with my family, fish with my dad and partner, and explore various parks and hiking trails with my friends. I spend a lot of time appreciating my dog, going for walks, and looking to him like he has all the answers. I’m finishing up my Ph.D., and I sincerely enjoy teaching and learning from students, and contemplating how to make the world a better place with my colleagues.