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Vol 27, 2022 SUMMER

Hello ELC Community,
While summer is somewhat quieter around the ELC offices with fewer students around and staff taking holidays at various times, we still accomplished a lot in the past few months:
  • At the end of May, hosted our first-in person events in Vancouver with Associates and Alumni;
  • From May to the end of July, we ran a summer session of the ELC Clinic;
  • We released our Annual Report in June;
  • All summer we wrapped up or advanced ongoing projects; and
  • In early August, we welcomed two new people to the team: ELC Lawyer & Clinical Education Program Associate Charis Kamphuis and Articled Student Jack Jones.
You’ll see more about some of these activities below, but as we all recover from holiday brain, we’re turning our minds forward because as everyone well knows: September is coming
It’s a daunting joy to assemble our Annual Report. Daunting because we can’t possibly fit in everything we do, but joyful to reflect and share the wonderful opportunities our students have had in assisting communities who would not have otherwise had received assistance to increase their ability to advocate for their public interest environmental law concerns. Our relatively small team of staff and students provided an astonishing 6,588 hours of pro bono legal services this past year!

Our 2021-22 Annual Report provides a snapshot of our activities and features our work in upholding Indigenous authority, protecting land and water, and the emerging but important theme of greenwashing. We also share a series of impacts realized from past or ongoing files. For a good overview of what the ELC is and does, we invite you to give it a read.
With the goal of empowering citizen groups to defend access to the wild spaces they care about, the ELC and the Outdoor Recreation Council released Wild Places and Green Spaces: A Citizen’s Guide to Proving Public Access this August.

Three in four Canadians said in a recent poll that time spent outdoors is more important to them now than ever before, and more than 85% of people in the same survey said that access to nature has been important to maintaining their mental health. However, more and more people may find they are locked out of the very places they used to access for relief. READ MORE...
Upon learning of Marion Cumming’s passing this past month, we gathered all the greeting cards she had sent to us in recent years as an ELC supporter. Marvelling at both her images and messaging (not to mention stunning penmanship) provided an opportunity to also reflect on her deep kindness and sincerity. While her care for the environment was always clear, her actions as a non-Indigenous person taking meaningful steps to respect and care for Indigenous rights (and giving Land Back) always resonated. We wanted to take a moment to recognize and thank her for her contributions. Rest in Peace, Marion. (For more information about Marion Cumming, see Maleea Acker’s lovely profile piece: Marion Cumming's indomitable spirit.)

Request That Coal Mine Pollution Issues in the Kootenay/Kootenai River Watershed Be Referred to the International Joint Commission

Submission prepared on behalf of Wildsight requesting that the issue of cross-border coal mine pollution issues in the Kootenay/Kootenai River Watershed be referred to the International Joint Commission.

Link to ELC Submission:

Wild Places and Green Spaces: A Citizen's Guide to Proving Public Access:

Prepared on behalf of Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, the Citizen’s Guide is designed to assist British Columbians who want to prove a public right to access to wild places and green spaces.

Link to ELC Submission:
SHOUT OUT TO YVR ALUMNI! Thank you to all the Vancouver alumni who came to our casual May 27 gathering. It’s always wonderful to see what our alumni are doing, and we look forward to future (and maybe, one day, fancier?) celebrations with both our Vancouver and Vancouver Island alumni and friends.
THANK YOU to our Cohort 8 Associates and guests for participating in our “What’s Happening in Environmental Law?” afternoon learning session in Vancouver at the end of May. Although we’ve long said we’re training the next generation of public interest environmental lawyers, it’s especially heartening to see so many ELC alumni involved in the Associates Program. Special thanks to our alumni presenters (pictured on the left from top to bottom): Jamie Arbeau (Ratcliff), Michael Bissonnette (WCEL), and Matt Hulse (Ecojustice).
WELCOME to our Articled Student Jack Jones! An ELC alumni and former student Board member, Jack will be with us until the end of December. You can learn more about Jack here.
WELCOME also to our new ELC Lawyer & Clinical Education Program Associate Charis Kamphuis! Charis will co-teach the ELC Clinic this Fall term with Deborah Curran. You can learn more about Charis here.
CONGRATULATIONS to the Kitasoo Xai’xais and Nuxalk Nations on the recognition of their Coastal Guardian Watchmen as Park Rangers with authorities under the Parks Act and Ecological Reserve Act to address illegal activity in their territory on behalf of their nation. While Guardians have stewarded their territories for thousands of years, this formal recognition is welcome by the communities.
The ELC worked in collaboration with BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council on The Case for a Guardian Network Initiative, which called on governments to collaboration with Nations and support Indigenous Guardian groups.
UPDATE ON CANADA'S FAILURE TO CONTROL COAL MINE POLLUTION IN THE ELK VALLEY: Recognizing that coal mine pollution in the Elk Valley was causing serious damage to fish, last July we prepared a submission to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Auditor General of Canada seeking an inquiry into Canada’s failure to control Elk Valley’s coal mine pollutions.
As reported in the ELC Resource Roundup, we followed the submission up in late April with a letter to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and US Secretary of State requesting both governments refer coal mine issues in the region to the International Joint Commission.
In mid-May, the International Joint Commission wrote an unprecedented letter to the US and Canadian governments indicating their concern and belief that this matter should come to them from both countries as a joint reference. This was followed up by a US State Department statement of support on an IJC Referral, after meeting with transboundary Indigenous groups.
UPDATE ON PROTECTING BEAR DENS: It’s great when a client takes the work we’ve prepared together and runs with it. Case in point is Sierra Club BC’s phase two launch of protecting bear dens, which includes a letter-writing tool for folks to write to their local representatives, a digital amplification package for social media and email sharing, and even (maybe our favourite) an informative black bear comic.

UPDATE ON PLASTICS: We are continuing to see legislative change in response to our work on developing and coordinating strategic law reform for the production, use, recycling and disposal of plastics. In June, the federal government released their Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, which bans six categories of single-use plastics: checkout bag, cutlery, foodservice ware, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws.

In July, the Minister of Environment and Climate changed announced that the next step in delivering on Canada’s commitments on plastic waste and pollution would be two consultations to develop rules for recyclability and compostability labelling; and establish a federal plastics registry for producers of plastic products.

UPDATE ON GREENWASHING: The Keurig case is indeed the gift that keeps on giving.  Attached is the Keurig corrective ad run in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail, as ordered by the Competition Bureau.  The ad has run several times in all major Canadian newspapers.
UPDATE ON MINING LAW REFORM: In 2019, the ELC joined with organizations throughout the province to launch the BC Mining Law Reform platform, which is intended to guide mining law reform in BC for the next decade.

The BC Mining Law Reform Network and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust recently released an interactive online map of tailings facilities in BC designed to provide local communities, First Nations, and other users with information about the location of, and risks associated with, tailings across the province. The map provides communities with critical information about the risks posed by billions of cubic metres of toxic wet mine waste, called tailings, stored behind some of the highest dams in the world. 
Join us for a webinar with Dr. Emerman and Adrienne Berchtold, Ecologist & Mining Impacts Researcher at SkeenaWild Conservation Trust,
To learn more about the risks of dam failures and what can be done to improve their safety, the BC Mining Law Reform Network is hosting a webinar on September 21, 2022 at 10am.
UPDATE ON WATER BOTTLING: Released shortly after last summer’s heat dome, our submission: Water for the Future: Why BC Needs an Immediate Moratorium on New Water Bottling Licences prompted our clients to join with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance and others to support the ELC’s recommendations and to launch a provincial campaign aimed at raising awareness of the water bottling issue and providing interested citizens with information and tools on how to organize as individuals or communities in order to call for change.
The latest piece of the campaign our clients launched with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance and others is the podcast: Vol 5 of The Freshwater Stream, which features the ELC’s Deborah Curran and other water champions from around the province. 
UPDATE ON WATER SUSTAINABILITY: The Province of BC committed to the first Water Sustainability Plan in partnership with Cowichan Tribes. The ELC has completed several projects for Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Watershed Board (co-governed by Cowichan Tribes), and Deborah Curran is an advisor to the Steering Committee.
ALUMNI SHOUTOUT to ELC alum Earl Stevenson for the change-making work he has been doing with the Peguis Nation in reforming their child welfare laws to restore traditional ways and knowledge, which are proving to be a model for reform for other Nations.
NATURE AT OUR WINDOW: In early summer, we were all delighted to have a front row Law Library stairwell window view to the nesting, brooding, hatching and eventual fledging of this wee hummingbird family.
ICYMI: Did you know that the ELC is now on Instagram? Check out our behind-the-scenes action at UVicELC
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