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Upcoming Health and Environment Forum in Sarnia to focus on First Nations youth

Upcoming Health and Environment Forum in Sarnia to focus on First Nations youth

Organizers of an upcoming environmental forum are hoping to engage First Nations youth, wrote The Sarnia Observer Jan. 30:

The event, hosted by the Aamjiwnaang First Nations Health and Environment Committee, in partnership with York University, is a follow-up to a 2008 health symposium held in Sarnia to share research findings with members of the scientific community, environmental groups, the media and government.

“The idea came about a year ago after [Aamjiwnaang community member] Ada Lockridge mentioned the idea of doing a follow up symposium,” said Sarah Wiebe, project coordinator for the Community Forum on Pollution and Action, and research assistant to Dayna Scott, environmental law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School [and executive director of the National Network on Environments & Women's Health], who has worked closely with Lockridge and the Aamjiwnaang community to investigate the links between pollution and health.

. . .

The one-day forum will include a series of workshops exploring the relationship between the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Sarnia's Chemical Valley, to deliver "collective and creative legal education," said Wiebe.

Participants will be invited to familiarize themselves with using the Environmental Registry and accessing PollutionWatch data. A session will also be held exploring how money collected from environmental offences is distributed to affected communities.

"We're trying to look at legal remedies, so when fines are charged to local facilities, one option could be to reallocate that money to those who maybe have a health concern," said Wiebe. "We also want people to have a better understanding of how to provide input when new facilities and projects come up."

Another component of the forum, "Raising Voices," will invite area youth to share their thoughts and concerns on the environment, including a group of First Nations youth who have been working on an ongoing photography assignment since the summer.

"We've asked them to document the good, bad and the ugly in their context; what gives them hope and what gives them concern," said Wiebe. "We're planning to showcase some of their images."

Community members will also receive an update on the ongoing Lambton Community Health Study, as well as updates from researchers investigating cancer, child development and endocrine disruption on the reserve.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin