2021: Year in Review

2021 was a great year for our Ontario Chapter! In spite of the ongoing pandemic, we forged ahead with our existing programs – and even created a few new ones along the way. Here are the highlights of 2021 from a few of our featured initiatives.Ring of Fire In June 2021, Sierra Club’s Ontario Chapter commenced a research project examining the Regional Assessment of proposed mining developments in the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is a 5,100km2 area located in Northwestern Ontario, home to roughly 45,000 Indigenous people of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The assessment aimed to encourage the Indigenous members of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation to share their traditional and land based knowledge on the Ring of Fire development. This research was led by Joseph Duncan, an Indigenous member from Treaty Nine Territory.  The assessment had several goals:Explore current understandings in how mining developments impact Indigenous communities Highlight Nishnawbe Aski Nations’ (NAN) Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and perspective on how their land rights are impacted by the Ring of Fire development Highlight Nishnawbe Aski Nations’ Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge on environmental and ecological damage on the Ring of Fire Outline Nishnawbe Aski Nations’ Indigenous peoples’ recommendations for the Ring of Fire development Data collection spanned July 2021- November 2021, during which time over 50 NAN members were interviewed. The formal report of the Ring of Fire assessment was published in late November. You can read it here.   Plastics Plastic is ubiquitous. Our goal is to bring the issue of plastics to the forefront, inspiring action and change at all levels – including governments and industry. We want to see stronger policy on plastics and plastic waste and a shift from throwaway culture to a circular economy.  We ran several activities in 2021 as part of our plastics campaign. This summer, we held our second annual Plastic Free July. During each day of July, we inspired Ontarians to refuse, reduce and reuse plastic. We’re proud to have led 31 days of activities and action against plastic pollution. In total, 165 people took on the Plastic Free July Challenge with us! We used our platform and our Plastic Free July Challenge to put pressure on Big Plastics.On July 8th, we joined other Canadian Environmental Groups in calling on Big Plastic companies to drop their lawsuit against the Canadian government. NOVA Chemicals, Dow Chemical and Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil are suing the federal government in an effort to stop the federal action plan to reduce plastic pollution. You can read our full statement here.On July 27th, we, along with other Canadian Environmental Groups, hosted a Twitter Day of Action against Big Plastic. With over 10,000 tweets using the #PlasticFreeJuly hashtag, we trended on Twitter in Canada and made sure to let NOVA Chemicals, Dow Chemical and Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil how we felt about their #trashytactics. We also launched the Problem with Plastics Project with the goal of bringing awareness and action on plastic issues in Canada. One of our first actions has been to launch a petition to get single-use plastics banned. 685 people have signed on so far, and more are signing our petition each day. Join us! (English/ French)  Breathe EasyThe goal of Breathe Easy is to inspire awareness of, and community action on, air pollution. We’re using citizen scientists equipped with handheld air quality monitors to track air pollution levels throughout the city of Ottawa.    Here’s a look back at some of our accomplishments in 2021:We continued to sample air quality throughout Ottawa, in cooperation with Ecology OttawaWe advocated for increased funding for air quality initiatives in Ottawa’s city budget We worked with 2 Ottawa-area schools to conduct air quality monitoring. Youth are often overlooked when it comes to air pollution, but are disproportionately affected.   We hosted 3 webinars, featuring diverse perspectives and research on the topic of air pollution. Click the links below to check them out!A Telling Tale of Tailpipes: Traffic-Related Air Pollution in CanadaLessons from London with Dr. Gary Fuller All Hands on Deck webinar – How’s the Air You’re Breathing?We published 3 Op-Eds, highlighting the issue of air pollution, the importance of citizen science, and the need for our governments to prioritize air quality issues. Take a read!Targeting an invisible problem: Combatting air pollution with citizen science (National Observer)Our new MPs should be talking about air quality (Ottawa Citizen)Ottawa has an air pollution problem and it’s time we tackled it (Ottawa Citizen)We partnered with the Peace and Environmental Resource Centre on a fundraising campaign. You can donate here.   Looking Ahead2022 will be a big year for the environment in Ontario as we head into a Provincial Election. In keeping with our mandate, we will continue to advocate for the environment and strive to empower individuals to be local leaders. In our programs, we will continue to expand their scope and our outreach efforts. Stay up-to-date with what we’re doing by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and by subscribing to our Ozone newsletter.