Our Mandate

The Canadian Environmental Law Foundation is the charitable arm of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA). We work to safeguard equity, justice, and health by shaping, applying, and strengthening environmental law and policy.

The Foundation (also conducting activities as the Resource Library for the Environment and the Law) was established in 1993 and formally changed its name to the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation in 2019.

Today, the Northern Services program operates with the support of Legal Aid Ontario. The part-time program provides legal and education services to communities in Ontario’s north. It responds to some of the most pressing environmental issues of the day, including mining development and Indigenous Rights issues in the Ring of Fire region. 

Founded in 1970, CELA is one of the oldest public interest litigation clinics in Canada. The Foundation has been raising funds to support CELA’s charitable projects and to preserve the ongoing history of environmental law in Canada since 1993. 

    Our work began before environmental law and government environment departments existed in Canada. We were there when environmental law helped bring life back to the Great Lakes. We were there when environmental law gave individuals a right to participate in decision-making. We were also there when environmental law failed to protect drinking water for remote and Indigenous communities. We were there when environmental law failed to prevent or address climate change. 

    Our work is not done. We need to ensure that the gains of the last 50 years are not forgotten. We need to ensure that environmental law continues to evolve.

    The Foundation’s key initiatives include the Canadian Environmental Law Collections, an extensive library of online and printed resources that document Canada’s environmental law and policy history, an annual fellowship for one aspiring environmental lawyer, and the Access to Justice for Northern Communities Initiative. The Foundation also supports ongoing education and outreach efforts to promote public participation in environmental decision-making. 

    The Canadian Environmental Law Foundation is a registered Canadian charity, no. 889832390RR0001.

    Photo credit – Petri Bailey