Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) acknowledges that the lands and waters on which we live and work are the traditional territories, since time immemorial, of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. We acknowledge that Indigenous communities across Canada have distinct cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. We are grateful to have the opportunity to live and work on these lands and waters. We recognize that we have a great deal to learn and a significant amount of work to do to address historical and ongoing environmental injustices imposed on Indigenous Peoples, including the denial of access to justice.

CELA is committed to learning about Indigenous community legal and governance systems, which are inherent, longstanding, and independent from the common law, civil law, and governance systems that prevail in Canada. CELA recognizes that this commitment requires consistent reflection and education.

CELA’s recognition and respect of Indigenous nations and Indigenous legal orders includes working to address the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and to give effect to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As a legal aid clinic dedicated to environmental equity, justice, and health, it is core to CELA’s mandate to advocate for legal reforms necessary to address systemic issues and correct environmental injustices. Specifically, we are committed to addressing the historic and inequitable impact of environmental harms such as legacy contamination, resource extraction, and pollution. CELA strives to collaborate and advocate with Indigenous clients, colleagues, and organizations in key areas of focus for our legal services, including:

  • environmental impact assessments,
  • access to safe drinking water and source water protection,
  • housing,
  • energy systems,
  • stewardship of land, and
  • siting of hazardous facilities.

CELA is committed to:

  • learning about Indigenous legal and governance systems and providing trauma-informed legal services;
  • working with Indigenous clients, communities, and collaborators within different regions across Ontario and making efforts to establish new relationships, including with Indigenous youth and Indigenous people living in urban centres;
  • respecting Indigenous information and data, consistent with OCAP® principles;
  • sharing information about CELA’s services, initiatives and law reform campaigns through Indigenous media outlets and networks;
  • collaborating with Indigenous communities to better understand ways in which CELA can continue to support Indigenous Peoples; and,
  • determining what benefits CELA can offer to Indigenous clients, communities, and collaborators, including identifying opportunities to provide public legal education, select casework, and undertake law reform initiatives.

CELA intends for these commitments to be dynamic, on-going and integral to all our work. As we seek to fulfill these commitments, we will reflect and improve our efforts.


Protecting Lands and Waters: Toolkit

With thanks to the funding provided by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Canadian Environmental Law Association with contributions by the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (ANA) Land Protection Team, has created this toolkit which aims to shed light on IPCAs as an

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Source Water Protection in Indigenous Communities

Since 2017, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, the Oneida Nation of the Thames, the Munsee-Delaware Nation (CMO) and the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) have undertaken a collaborative, community-based project to identify threats to source waters in the

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