Providing information in three Indigenous languages about the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) is one way the ECO is widening public awareness about this important toolkit for environmental rights. Indigenous communities are often disproportionately affected by pollution, including air and water pollution, and poor drinking water quality, as the ECO highlighted in our 2017 Environmental Protection Report. Indigenous communities often play a critical role identifying changes and threats to the environment, including those brought on by climate change.
The Chiefs of Ontario noted in a December 2015 media release that First Nations in northern communities are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change. “Animal migration patterns have adversely affected hunting, while warmer winters have reduced or eliminated ice roads to remote communities.”
In January of this year, the Mushkegowuk First Nation convened a climate change summit in Timmins. Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon told 120 First Nation leaders, government representatives and scientists that he had seen changes along the James Bay coast in his lifetime and urged them to utilize the knowledge of Elders and engage First Nation communities.
The Environmental Registry is an important online channel for public engagement. It is a critical link between government decision-makers and all Ontarians, including Indigenous communities, and the newly translated information can help make the Registry more accessible.