Background on the project:

The Navigating the Law to Protect the Environment webinar series is a partnership project between the Manitoba Eco-Network, the University of Winnipeg, and the Public Interest Law Centre which aims to provide information to activists, lawyers, students, and community members about a variety of environmental law topics. The project has funding support from the Manitoba Law Foundation.

The legal tools available to the public to make their voices heard regarding environmental matters are often overwhelmingly complex. By making the insights of experts in this field publicly available, we hope to improve Manitobans’ legal knowledge and help increase public engagement in legal processes and reforms related to environmental law. We will be offering three webinars in the fall of 2020 and three in the winter/spring of 2021.

Fall webinar dates, times, topics, and speakers

September 10th | 12-1pm: Environmental racism and the law
◦ Chief Heidi Cook of Misipawistik Cree Nation (introduction video)
◦ Dr. Bruce McIvor, Principal of First Peoples Law Corporation (introduction video)

October 8th | 12-1pm: Accessing legislative change (introduction video)
◦ Hugh Benevides, lawyer and consultant
◦ Justyna Laurie-Lean, Vice President of Environment and Regulatory affairs with the Mining Association of Canada
◦Glen Koroluk, Executive Director of the Manitoba Eco-Network

November 12th | 12-1pm: Are class actions the way to go?
◦ Professor Jasminka Kalajdzic, an associate professor at Windsor Law and director of the Class Action Clinic (introduction video)
◦ Catherine Gauthier, Executive Director of ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU) (introduction video)

Environmental Racism and the Law

Environmental racism occurs when a law, policy, or practice differently affects or disadvantages individuals, groups, or communities based on race or colour, often resulting in a lowered quality of life for those persons. This webinar will explore the topic of environmental racism and identify how it manifests in the Canadian and Manitoban contexts. Invited guests are Dr. Bruce McIvor and Chief Heidi Cook.

Chief Cook is from Grand Rapids, Manitoba, and is a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation. Her interests include the protection of lands and waters, understanding and strengthening Treaty relationships, cultural teachings and ceremonies, and living a good life. She holds a BA in Environmental Sustainability and Politics and a Masters Certificate in Project Management from UWinnipeg, and a Masters in Development Practice (MDP) in Indigenous Development from the University of Winnipeg.

Heidi has served for 6 years as a Councillor for Misipawastik Cree Nation and most recently, in July of 2020, she was elected Chief of Misipawistik. Prior to her time as an elected official, Heidi worked with the Misipawistik Cree Nation Traditional Lands and Waters in areas of land use, planning, and management.

She continues her work with Indigenous communities in Manitoba to achieve development that is just, improves opportunities for health and employment, and ensures lands, waters, and rights are protected.

Dr. McIvor is principal of First Peoples Law Corporation, a law firm dedicated to defending and advancing Aboriginal title, Aboriginal rights and Treaty rights. His work includes both litigation and negotiation on behalf of Indigenous Peoples across Canada. Bruce is dedicated to public education. He recently published the third edition of his collection of essays entitled First Peoples Law: Essays in Canadian Law and Decolonization. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law where he teaches the constitutional law of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Bruce is a proud Métis from the Red River in Manitoba. He holds a law degree, a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history and is a Fulbright Scholar. Bruce, a member of the bar in British Columbia and Ontario, is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada.

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Accessing Legislative Change

Environmental law is created by legislators through the legislative process. This process is open to public input and, as a result, citizen engagement in the legislative process is an important part of pushing for change on environmental matters. In this webinar, three seasoned advocates will discuss their tools for engaging and truths about the process of advocating for legislative change. Invited guests are Hugh Benevides and Justyna Laurie-Lean & Glen Koroluk.

Hugh Benevides has been called to the Bar in Ontario and Nova Scotia and has worked for a Member of Parliament and committee chair on Parliament Hill, as the Canadian legal officer at an international organization, and for many of Canada’s leading environmental law, environmental and conservation organizations. In 2004-06 he led a campaign for the Canadian Environmental Law Association in relation to the federal “smart regulation” program and served on an advisory committee (the Reference Group on Regulating) to Privy Council Office in 2005-06. Since 2016 he has advised groups on government and parliamentary relations, particularly on Bills C-68 and C-69 that became law during the final days of the 42nd Parliament.

Justyna Laurie-Lean works with MAC members in addressing and understanding the federal regulatory and legislative environment that Canadian mining companies adhere to. In her role, she monitors emerging regulatory issues and participates in policy development for a wide range of federal acts and regulations. Prior to joining MAC in 1991, Justyna worked in various mining operations in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia, followed by a posting with the federal government. A pioneer in the industry, Justyna was one of the first female mining engineers in Canada, having completed a degree in Mining Engineering from McGill University in 1978.

Glen Koroluk has spent most of his working career in the non-profit and charitable sector as a community organizer and coordinator on issues and projects such as housing, food sovereignty, community development, and environmental protection. He is currently the executive director of the Manitoba Eco-Network and volunteers as a board member with the National Farmers Foundation, Canadian Environmental Network, and his local community club, Valour CC. He holds a BSc. from the University of Winnipeg that focused on geography and statistics.

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Are Class Actions the way to go?

Class action lawsuits present an opportunity for many individuals to join forces in taking on typically bigger and more powerful entities. This tool is being increasingly used in the environmental context to protect individual and collective rights to a clean and healthy environment. This webinar will focus on these developments in the legal world and what promise Class actions might hold for furthering environmental justice. Invited guests are Professor Jasminka Kalajdzic and Catherine Gauthier.

Professor Kalajdzic is an associate professor at Windsor Law where she teaches courses on legal ethics, evidence, and class actions. Professor Kalajdzic is widely published, including Class Actions in Canada: The Promise and Reality of Access to Justice (2018) and The Law of Class Actions in Canada (co-authored, 2015). Professor Kalajdzic was the co-principal researcher and co-author of the Law Commission of Ontario’s Class Action Report (2019). She speaks regularly about class actions at scholarly and judicial conferences in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She served two terms as a member of the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Class Proceedings Committee and is the Canadian representative in an International Research Collaborative on Collective Litigation. She co-teaches a comparative class action seminar with colleagues at Stanford, Tilburg, and Leuphana Universities. She is the founder and clinic director of the Class Action Clinic, the first clinic in the world to focus on the needs and interests of class members.

Catherine Gauthier is the executive director of ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU), a Quebec environmental organization focused on educating and equipping Quebec’s youth to take action on environmental issues. Catherine holds a Masters in international law and politics, specializing in international climate negotiations, environmental issues, education, and human rights.

She has been invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly, at the 11th conference of the parties for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and, on behalf of ENJEU, has participated in ten UN conferences of the parties on climate change since 2007.

In 2018, Catherine and ENJEU launched a class action lawsuit against the federal government of Canada for its inaction regarding the climate change crisis, this action is presently moving through the courts.

Catherine continues to be involved with groups working on issues related to climate change, just and equitable economic transitions, and intergenerational equity.

To come.