Over the course of the past 15 years, Level has worked closely with law students across Canada to engage with their communities and ignite change. We strongly believe that law students continue to play an integral part in advancing a culture of social consciousness. Our student chapters are comprised of dedicated young leaders who continue to advance our important work on human rights, advocacy, and legal research on campuses across Canada, and remind us daily of the importance of community empowerment.
Check out what some of our incredible Level Student Chapters have been up to this academic year, as well as some of the exciting events on the horizon!
University of Ottawa
On February 11, Level’s Student Chapter @ uOttawa hosted the cheekily named Extracting Environmental Justice, a panel presenting a critical dialogue on the effects of natural resource extraction on marginalized communities and was co-hosted by the Indigenous Law Students’ Association, Environmental Law Students’ Association, and CLAIHR uOttawa. This collaborative event engaged students in a discussion on the intersection of environmental and social justice issues in Canada, highlighting the disproportionate effects of extraction on marginalized communities, and inviting conversation on better solutions. Featured panelists were associate professors Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, Aimée Craft, Penelope Simons and Nathalie Chalifour, as well as the Human Rights Clinic Director of HRREC at the university, Salvador Herencia. A full recap of this event by Chapter Execs. Aneta Bajic and Christa Croos is available here.
In the coming months, our this chapter will be hosting a viewing of Water Warriors, a film that documents the collaborative success of New Brunswick Mi’kmaq Elsipogtog First Nation community, alongside French-speaking Acadians and English-speaking family allies, in driving out the oil and natural gas industry seeking to destroy their water supply through fracking.
Level’s Student Chapter at Queen’s held events throughout the academic year to grow their network on campus and spread the word on environmental justice issues. In October, the Chapter held a bake sale and used the opportunity to engage with students and distribute literature on environmental justice and racism. In November, they hosted a movie night featuring a screening of Colonization Road, a documentary film by Michelle St. John and hosted by Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon. Colonization Road details the historical context of settlement in Canada by studying the Public Lands Act of 1853.
This week, the Chapter was honoured to have Chief R. Donald Maracle, Teala Nadjiwon, Professor Hugo Choquette and Professor Hugh Adsett share their knowledge and expertise on the issue of Safe Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems in Indigenous Communities in Canada.
Queen’s Law students and faculty members were invited to learn about the practical and legal realities of the existing access to water crisis. The discussion was preceded by a short video by Human Rights Watch entitled Canada’s Water Crisis: Indigenous Families at Risk. This contextualized the discussion, and conveyed the urgency of the issue of access to clean water. Drawing on knowledge from their personal and academic experiences, panelists spoke to the real effects that polluted wells and lakes have had on the lives of residents and how there is a desperate need to raise awareness, gather funding, and enhance infrastructure so that fundamental rights to water are realized.
Students shared that more events and discussions on environmental issues are needed as there is limited access to this kind of knowledge. It was emphasized how historical context is crucial in order to understand or even begin to apply a legal lens or framework on such intricate issues.
Level Queen’s Chapter acknowledges LexisNexis and Trailhead Kingston for their generous contributions in making this event possible.
Université de Montréal
Level UdeM held a variety events this past term, including a legal networking session, a bake sale, and an environmental law conference. The conference featured Roxanne Passos, a lawyer at the Quebec Center for Environmental Law (CQDE), who discussed the implications of agriculture on Canadian environmental law.
Currently, our Chapter at UdeM is putting together its Revue Juridique, an annual student-run journal, which accepts submissions in both French and English, and focuses on elevating student voices on Level’s annual theme. Have something pressing you want to say about Environmental Justice in Canada? Draft your submission now! Want to see what the Revue Juridique is about? Check out last year’s journal here.
Our Western University chapter recently held their 2nd Annual “Plawnt” fundraiser, where attendees created their own terrariums while learning about Level’s events on campus and explored the year’s theme of environmental justice. The chapter also organized a clothing drive for homeless in London, donating over two cars full of clothing and furniture to local charity LIFE*SPIN’s free store.
Western’s Chapter has also been working towards the implementation of London’s Indigenous Youth Outreach Program, taking place at Antler River Elementary School located in the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation on March 22 and 29th. Members of the IYOP Subcomittee of the Western chapter are currently working closely with our Director of Programs, Lisa Del Col, to plan a successful program delivery for participating youth.
University of Saskatchewan
Earlier this month, Level’s Saskatchewan Chapter held a Food Deserts in Saskatchewan: The Right to Food Security, a panel discussing the intersections of health, poverty, and environment in Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. Panelists included agriculture professor Grant Wood; community health and epidemiology professor Rachel Engler-Stringer; Executive Director of the Saskatoon Food Council, Gord Enns; and First Nations educator and advocate Glenda Abbott, from the Pelican Lake First Nation.
This was closely followed by an Empathy Training session led by Level Program Manager, Tristan Mohamed, where several Chapter leaders engaged in an interactive training experience, using gameplay to learn the importance of empathy in legal practice, and insights on how to incorporate this useful skill into their legal career.
University of Calgary
Missed out on the above events? Don’t despair - Calgary’s Chapter is in the midst of planning two events in the upcoming month. First, the Chapter will be holding a “Research-athon” with the school’s Environmental Law Society, spending a day researching plastic bag bans across the world, and their successes and challenges. The event will also include a lunch-time panel of environmental lawyers, government representatives, and professors to discuss the end product - a proposed policy to help mitigate the harmful effects of plastic waste in Canada.
The Chapter will also be hosting a panel to discuss Orphan Well Association v. Grant Thornton Ltd., a recent Supreme Court case that placed burden on oil and gas companies to assume financial responsibility of abandoned oil wells. The event will feature lawyers from the energy industry, environmental advocates, and professors to discuss the implications of the case on environmental justice in Alberta.
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Want to be a part of Level’s Student Chapters?
In case you didn’t hear, we’re launching a Level Student Chapter @ the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. Only a few short days remain to apply for a Chapter President Position! If you or someone you know is interested, check out our call for applications here.
Interested in joining an existing chapter? Reach out to your local Level Chapter President for more details!
*Photographs taken by our Level Student Chapter Presidents