Yellowknife latest city to recognize citizens’ right to live in a healthy environment

City joins Richmond, The Pas, Vancouver and Montreal in standing up for citizens’ right to have a say in decisions that affect the people and places they love

On December 8, Yellowknife became the fifth city in Canada to recognize its citizens’ right to live in a healthy environment, passing a municipal declaration that protects clean water, fresh air and healthy food, and gives citizens a say in decisions that affect people’s health.

The David Suzuki Foundation’s local partner in Yellowknife, Dene Nahjo, welcomed the news. “The people of the North are experiencing climate change daily and living with a mining legacy that doesn’t embody responsibility, social justice or public health,” said Dëneze Nakehk’o, spokesperson for Dene Nahjo. “To have the City of Yellowknife support a declaration for environmental rights shows bravery and leadership and sends a strong message to the North and the rest of the world that our most valuable resource is people.”

The city joins Richmond and Vancouver, B.C., The Pas, Manitoba, and Montreal, Quebec, with many more getting ready to follow suit. “Cities from coast to coast to coast are joining this movement,” said Sophika Kostyniuk, National Organizing Manager for the David Suzuki Foundation. “These cities represent almost two-and-a-half-million Canadians who now benefit from local governments that are putting the health of the people and places they love first.” Kostyniuk said thousands of Canadians are already working to grow this movement in cities and towns across Canada. “This grassroots effort shows what can happen when ordinary people take extraordinary action, and in the coming weeks and months we’ll see even more communities sign on.”

David Suzuki Foundation communications and public engagement director Michiah Prull noted that mega-projects like Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline have raised serious questions among Canadians about the protections in place for their health and well-being. “Local communities are rightfully calling for a say when it comes to important decisions that will affect the health of citizens and the communities they call home,” Prull said.

He added that the ultimate goal of the Blue Dot campaign was to see a Charter amendment guaranteeing the right of every Canadian to live in a healthy environment. “More than 110 nations already have this right, but not Canada. It’s time for that to change, and clearly cities are leading the way.”


By Ian Hanington from The David Suzuki Foundation on Dec. 11, 2014.

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