Protecting the people and places we love
It all started with a tour
In 2014, the David Suzuki Foundation launched the Blue Dot Movement. The goal: enshrine the right to a healthy environment – the right to clean air and water – in Canadian law. Specifically, the goal was for Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to recognize everyone in Canada’s right to live in a healthy environment.
We kicked things off with a momentum-building, awareness-raising, cross-country tour featuring David Suzuki and a variety of other prominent Canadian thought leaders and artists. The inspirational tour mobilized communities and volunteers to take action from coast to coast to coast.
A movement was born
Over the next seven years, thousands of volunteers:
- Organized themselves into teams
- Held skills-building trainings
- Organized events
- Canvassed communities
- Participated in National Days of Action
- Met with decision makers
- Creatively campaigned on social media
- And much, much more…
Their dedication inspired others, brought people together and mainstreamed the idea that our laws should protect vulnerable communities and ensure that everyone has access to clean air, fresh water and a safe and healthy environment.
At the end of the day, together, we made some incredible progress:
- 176 municipalities across Canada adopted declarations recognizing their citizens’ right to a healthy environment
- Following the October 2019 federal election, 107 of the 338 MP’s (31%!) signed our public pledge in support of environmental rights.
- Blue Dot volunteers initiated two popular House of Commons petitions to strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (Canada’s main environmental law, which we hope someday will include the right to a healthy environment).
- Blue Dot’s advocacy was instrumental in getting Bill S-5, an Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, passed by Parliament. This act recognizes Canadians’ right to live in healthy environment.
- Blue Dot also champions Bill S-226 – An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice.
It’s a terrific day when Canada recognizes the right to a healthy environment and will be an even better day when governments respect, protect and fulfill everyone’s right to a healthy environment! The passage of S-5 puts Canada on path at last.
David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and environment and Blue Dot movement spokesperson
What’s next for environmental rights in Canada
This multi-year campaign for environmental rights has seeded a groundwork of grassroots organizing groups across Canada, and has helped inspire the creation of the Foundation’s Future Ground Network. Although it has not yet been determined if Section 7 of our Charter of Rights will include our right to live in a healthy environment, Blue Dot has helped shift how many in Canada approach protecting the environment with a human rights-based lens.
As we adapt our work to the ever-evolving needs of our planet and communities, the Blue Dot chapter comes to a close. But the David Suzuki Foundation remains committed to taking a rights-based approach to all its campaign work – as social and environmental justice are inextricably tied. Solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises must be grounded in equity, respect and fulfillment of human rights, and access to justice.
In 2014, when the Blue Dot tour called on their audiences to champion environmental rights, we were only 10 and seven years old. Blue Dot gave us the tools and opportunity to make real change.
Franny Ladell and Rupert Yakelashek
Franny Ladell and Rupert Yakelashek youth advocates who received international recognition for their Environmental Rights work.
Photo: David Ellingsen
In Indigenous philosophy we think seven generations behind and seven generations ahead. We need stronger environmental laws to protect the next seven generations.
My journey to the MP’s office began with my passion for the environment, which comes from my commitment to living lightly on the planet. I love nature, and so does my grandson, and I want to protect the earth that sustains us.
The groundswell of support for Blue Dot has been amazing. I remain in awe of the passion with which Canadians have embraced the environmental rights movement. Our Blue Dot community has grown from eight to thousands upon thousands of dedicated supporters working together.
The Blue Dot movement helped us expand our focus from protecting water sources to advocacy for environmental rights before all levels of government, green house gas emissions reduction and preservation of our natural heritage. Our team has grown and flourished, allowing us to make positive change in our community.
Photo: Peg McCarthy
Future Ground Network
Future Ground Network is a hub for groups of people like you taking action in their communities to secure healthier, more viable futures in the areas of climate justice, biodiversity, waste reduction.