June 2013 Bulletin

TCPC receives Public Health Champion Award

The Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition (TCPC), of which CELA is a member, was honoured with the 2013 Public Health Champion Award recipient in the organization category by the City of Toronto. TCPC is a unique coalition of government, community agencies and organizations along with cancer survivors and citizens.

A history of CELA

In 1970, three young lawyers, David Estrin, John Swaigen and Joe Castrilli established CELA. Their goal was to use existing laws to protect the environment and to advocate for environmental law reforms. The three founders produced a short history of CELA’s humble beginnings. (Be sure to check out the recorded clips for the oral history!)

Mourning the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

As the first anniversary of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act’s death approaches, CELA’s Richard Lindgren mourns the Act that imposed legally binding environmental assessment (EA) obligations upon federal decision-makers.

Faces of CELA: Branimir Gjetvaj

CELA established a scholarship to assist hard-working students who are making a difference in protecting our environment. Our “Michelle’s Prize” scholarship honours the life work of Michelle Swenarchuk, lawyer, environmental activist and former Executive Director of CELA who passed away in 2008.

This year’s recipient of Michelle’s Prize is Branimir Gjetvaj, 52, who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We caught up with him for a short interview.

  • So what do you do, Branimir Gjetvaj?

 I work as a Plant Molecular Research Assistant at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Saskatoon, and study part-time in the Master of Sustainable Environmental Management Program at School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan. Through my photography business, I frequently contribute my photographic skills to local conservation organizations and groups involved in environmental education.

  • What inspired you to get involved in environmental research?

I am combining my daytime work priorities (development of new, non-food crops for biofuel production) with a personal interest in nature protection, to study implications of agricultural policies and practices on the environment. 

  • What do you plan on doing with the prize money?

The prize money will provide great assistance in obtaining the MSEM degree – it has already been spent on paying the graduate studies tuition fee.

  • What is the most important environmental regulation you would like to see implemented in Canada?

I would like to see the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act be strengthened from the gutted version that was introduced in 2012. Also, I am quite concerned about the planned “amendments” to the Species at Risk Act.

  • What advice would you give to Canadians about reducing their risks from toxic chemical exposure?

Make them sure that they know where their food and drinking water comes from.

  • How do you hope your studies will help Canada’s environment in the future?

I am studying environmental and socio-economic implications of growing bioenergy production crops on so-called marginal lands in Saskatchewan. I am particularly interested in assessing the threat risk to biodiversity and species at risk from converting native grasslands to biofuel crop production. Hopefully, results of my research project will provide decision-makers with data needed to determine responsible land-use policies, and to assist in planning for sustainable management of agricultural lands.