On Friday, February 2, 2018, ECELAW partnered with the Marine and Environmental Law Program and the Environmental Law Students’ Society at the Schulich School of Law to host an Environmental Law Research-a-Thon at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.
Inspired by a similar event being held at the University of Victoria, Schulich law professor Sara Seck and ECELAW’s Lisa Mitchell worked with local law students and the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) Wilderness Team to develop legal questions to shape the day.
Gathered together around a large table in the room that EAC staff call their “EcoDanceHall,” law students, law professors, a Schulich Fellow, and ECELAW’s articled clerk worked side-by-side throughout the morning and early afternoon to determine whether and how Canadian and international jurisdictions beyond Nova Scotia regulate clear-cutting in their forests.
With the goal of discovering whether proposed clear-cutting restrictions in Nova Scotia have parallels in other Canadian and international jurisdictions, participants divvied up the map and dove online to find relevant law and policy, surfacing periodically to pose questions, share insights, and crack jokes about the difficulty of finding clear answers and straightforward language in the law. After a few hours of concentrated research, participants put together dozens of pages of information that were later compiled and given to the EAC.
Time-limited team processes like this one may not provide all of the answers at the end of the day, but they offer exceptional opportunities for collaboration and community-building. For the law students who participated in the event, a break away from the theoretical learning of the classroom and a chance to provide practical benefits to community organizations like ECELAW and the EAC were attractive reasons to roll up their sleeves and take part.
As the Government of Nova Scotia awaits the results of William Lahey’s independent review of forestry practices in this province, ECELAW and its student volunteers are proud to have taken part in a collaborative legal research event that we hope will become a tradition for years to come.
November 24, 2017
In recent years, racism has been pushed to the forefront of environmental conversations in Nova Scotia. Organizations like the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health (ENRICH) Project and the Peace and Friendship Alliance of Nova Scotia, along with committed community groups and activists working throughout the region, are demonstrating that Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities in this province suffer disproportionately from environmental harms. In April 2015, NDP MLA Lenore Zann tabled Bill 111, An Act to Address Environmental Racism, in the Nova Scotia legislature. In April 2017, the Nova Scotia Environmental Rights Working Group (NSERWG) launched a draft Environmental Bill of Rights that explicitly recognizes and seeks to redress the disproportionate harms suffered by Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities. This October, an event organized by KAIROS Canada put a spotlight on Indigenous attempts to protect local watersheds and asked what reconciliation can and should look like in the context of environmental activism.
These are just some of the many examples that point to a groundswell of public attention to environmental racism in Nova Scotia. ECELAW is proud to have been involved in a number of these initiatives, and we know that our relationships with ENRICH and the NSERWG have been mutually beneficial. The legal expertise that we bring to the table is enhanced by the expertise of the affected communities that share their experiences and insights with us, and we know that together we are building critical legal analyses that can respond to lived realities in Nova Scotia today.