Making the Links: A Northern Ontario Toolkit for Environmental Protections, Health, and Equity

CELA Northern Services presents a new toolkit for Northern Ontario on environmental rights and public action

Across Canada, low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities bear the disproportionate burden of adverse health and environmental impacts from contaminants that are discharged into air, land, and water. The nexus between pollution, poverty, race, and ethnicity has prompted civil society, academics, lawyers, and non-governmental organizations to advocate for legal reforms that facilitate access to environmental justice.

This Toolkit has been created to pair critically urgent environmental issues with legal mechanisms for change and public advocacy. It has been developed with and for Indigenous and settler communities, and individuals throughout Northern Ontario. It is meant to be a foundational resource so that both individuals and practitioners can have ready access to solutions for environmental health issues. Part I provides an overview of key terms and concepts, like environmental justice and informed consent, while Part II profiles urgent environmental health issues in the North. Part III provides solutions and how-to guides on getting involved. Each chapter is accompanied by additional reading, found at the end of this guide.

At CELA, we have been working since 1970 to represent the individuals, communities, and First Nations directly affected by development, environmental hazards, and systemic racism and to amplify their voices – whether in the courts, before lawmakers, or within their community, to precipitate change. This Toolkit was an ambitious project, supported by the communities and leaders that have worked alongside CELA since the launch of its Northern Services program in 2019.

While the case studies, stories, and profiles within this Toolkit are based in Northern Ontario, their lessons and calls to action span the province and reflect the Canadian Environmental Law Association’s ongoing commitment to bring legal aid services to those most affected and underserved in environmental decision-making.

We invite you to read, share and explore this Toolkit to learn more about the important role we all share in advocating for more just, equitable, and healthy communities.

Making the Links Toolkit, 2021

The original toolkit, created in 2021, is available for download by clicking the following link: CELA_Northern_Services_Making_the_Links
Prepared by: Kerrie Blaise, Northern Services Legal Counsel at CELA, and Jane Cooper, JD Candidate (2023) and CELA Summer Student (2021)
ISBN # 978-1-77842-000-9
CELA Publication No. 1431

Making the Links Toolkit, Update 2022

An update of this toolkit was created in 2022 and can be downloaded by clicking this link: CELA Northern Services Making the Links – Update
Prepared by: Kerrie Blaise, Northern Services Legal Counsel at CELA, and Rebecca Waxman, JD Candidate (2024) and CELA Summer Student (2022)
ISBN # 978-1-77842-005-4
CELA Publication No. 1481

Making the Links Webinar, 2021

The “Making the Links” webinar, originally aired in August 2021, highlights the connections between environment, health and industry in Northern Ontario, and demonstrates how you can use the law to prevent harm to you, your community, and the environment. It also:

  • Highlight pressing issues facing Northern Ontario from forestry and aerial spraying to industry exemptions from air emission standards
  • Discusses impacts on food sovereignty and treaty rights
  • Presents legal tools and opportunities for public engagement

To download the presentation slides click the following link: Presentation_Slides_Making_the_Links

Making the Links Update Webinar, 2022

A recorded presentation outlining the updates to the Making the Links toolkit is available below.