Search for "Environment"

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Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May, OC, politician, environmental activist, lawyer, author, leader of the Green Party of Canada 2006–19 (born 9 June 1954 in Hartford, Connecticut). May served as a policy advisor (1986–88) to the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and in 1989 became the founding executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. In 2011, she became the first Green Party member elected to the House of Commons. May resigned as party leader in November 2019.

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Natural Resources in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

There are many types of natural resources. These resources are used for goods and services. Some natural resources are air, sunlight, water, land, vegetation, minerals and animals. Canada has many natural resources. Canadians debate about how they should be used. We need natural resources. So, it is important to know how to use them responsibly.

(This article is a plain-language summary of Natural Resources in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry, Natural Resources in Canada.)

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Joey Angnatok

Joey Angnatok, hunter, fisherman, social entrepreneur, businessman, community leader (born May 1976 in Nain, Newfoundland) has worked with university researchers and his fellow Inuit for more than 30 years collecting climate and other environmental data. At the end of each fishing season, he turns his fishing boat into a marine research vessel.

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Human Geography and Canada

Human geography studies the relationships between people and the environments in which they live. Within the field of human geography there are five main areas of study. These areas are economic geography, cultural geography, political geography, urban geography and environmental geography. In Canada, human geographers might study the status of Indigenous languages or differences between rural and urban Canadians, among many other topics.

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Natural Resources in Canada

Natural resources are aspects of the natural environment from which goods and services can be obtained and produced. They include air, sunlight, water, land, vegetation, animal life and geological resources. People can also value natural resources for their own sake or for their aesthetic qualities. Humans must manage natural resources to sustain the benefits they offer.

Canada is among the most resource-rich countries in the world. Its large and varied natural resources are essential to its economies and cultures. But there are ongoing debates about how to use, share and manage natural resources.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

This is the full-length entry about natural resources in Canada. For a plain-language summary, please see Natural Resources in Canada (Plain-Language Summary).

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Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal

The $7.9 billion Northern Gateway project was a pipeline proposal that Enbridge put forward in 2008. Northern Gateway would have carried diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) about 1,170 km from Bruderheim, Alberta to a terminal on the Pacific Ocean at KitimatBritish Columbia. Enbridge claimed that the project would create $1.2 billion in tax revenue for BC, as well as 560 jobs. The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the pipeline’s approval in 2016. That same year, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the project.

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Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the largest land conservation charity in Canada. Since 1962, NCC has helped to protect more than 160,000 km2 of land and water across the country. Its mission is to partner with individual donors, corporations, non-profits and governments to purchase and protect areas rich in species diversity (see Biodiversity). The charity and its partners achieve this goal by working with local communities to identify habitat and species in need of protection, and by implementing the best evidence-based conservation science available. As of June 2019, the NCC has conserved habitat across Canada for 34 per cent of Canada’s species at risk. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

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Right Whales Could Be Extinct by 2100, Study Finds

A study published in the journal Oceanography concluded that right whales could be extinct by the end of the 21st century. Since 2015, warming waters had forced the whales into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where they faced increased danger from shipping routes and fishing gear. The total population of North Atlantic right whales was estimated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be 368, including fewer than 100 breeding females.

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Graeme Gibson

Graeme Gibson, CM, writer, cultural activist, teacher (born 9 August 1934 in London, ON; died 18 September 2019 in London, England). Graeme Gibson was a noted Canadian author and conservationist. His novels Five Legs (1969), Communion (1971), Perpetual Motion (1982) and Gentleman Death (1993) were widely acclaimed. He also published the environmentally conscious The Bedside Book of Birds (2005) and The Bedside Book of Beasts (2009). A committed bird watcher, he helped found the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. He was also instrumental in forming the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Book and Periodical Development Council and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. He was a former president of PEN Canada and the longtime partner of Margaret Atwood.

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Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL was a proposed 1,947 km long pipeline project that would have carried crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. It was owned by Calgary-based TC Energy Corporation. The pipeline was named XL for “export limited.” First proposed in July 2008, it was the prospective fourth phase of TC Energy’s existing Keystone Pipeline system. In Canada, Keystone XL had the support of both the federal and Alberta governments. However, the project faced significant opposition and legal challenges on environmental grounds. In January 2021, United States president Joe Biden cancelled its permit on his first day in office. On 9 June 2021, TC Energy and the Alberta government announced the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Wet'suwet'en First Nation Protests Against Trans Mountain Pipeline

Environmental activists held protests on Vancouver Island and at the Toronto office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, calling for the federal government to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through the Wet'suwet'en First Nation territory in British Columbia. Coastal GasLink had obtained approval from the elected councils of 20 First Nations, but hereditary clan leaders refused to consent to the pipeline and demanded that it not proceed.

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James Bay Project

In 1971, Hydro-Québec and the government of Quebec initiated the James Bay Project, a monumental hydroelectric-power development on the east coast of James Bay. (See also Hydroelectricity in Canada.) Over the course of two phases, a total of eight generating stations were built, allowing for the pollution-free production of a significant portion of Quebec’s electricity. However, the project also profoundly disrupted the environment and the Indigenous communities living in the region, the effects of which are still being felt today.

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Coal in Canada

Coal is a fossil fuel that has been used as a source of energy in Canada since the 18th century. Canada is home to 0.6 per cent of the world’s coal resources. Most of the country’s coal reserves (over 95 per cent) are found in AlbertaBritish Columbia and Saskatchewan. In recent years, the environmental movement has opposed the coal industry for disrupting local ecosystems, creating adverse health effects and for its large contribution to the carbon-dioxide emissions that drive climate change. In an effort to curb harmful emissions, the federal government has signalled its intention to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, and Alberta has a plan to achieve the same goal as a province.

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Sustainability in Canada

Sustainability is the ability of the biosphere, or of a certain resource or practice, to persist in a state of balance over the long term. The concept of sustainability also includes things humans can do to preserve such a balance. Sustainable development, for instance, pairs such actions with growth. It aims to meet the needs of the present while ensuring that future people will be able to meet their needs.

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Berger Commission

In 1974, the federal government formed a royal commission to consider two proposals for natural gas pipelines in the North. Thomas Berger, a judge, led the inquiry. Over the next two years, the Berger Commission assessed the potential impacts of the proposed pipelines. Berger held formal and informal hearings. These included 45 community hearings from the Northwest Territories and Yukon to Southern Canada. His 1977 report made several recommendations. He called for further study and the settlement of Indigenous land claims. He also called for a 10-year ban on pipeline construction in the Mackenzie Valley. Berger opposed building any pipeline across the sensitive caribou habitat of the northern Yukon. The Berger Commission involved the public and included Indigenous views more than any resource-related consultation had done before in Canada.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project

The Trans Mountain Expansion is a project to build about 980 km of new pipe, most of which will run parallel to the existing Trans Mountain oil pipeline. The new line will carry diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. The expansion will increase the pipeline route’s overall capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

The project’s first owner, Kinder Morgan Canada, sold it to the Government of Canada in 2018. The Trans Mountain Expansion has been a focus of environmental and economic debates, as well as political conflicts. The $12.6 billion project is now under construction.

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BC First Nations Push for Vancouver Island-Size Conservation Area

Several First Nations called on the British Columbia government to endorse plans for a 40,000 km2 conservation area, which would be located on the ancestral lands of three Kaska Dena First Nations in Northern BC. The proposal for the Kaska Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area, which would cover an area larger than Vancouver Island, has been in the works for more than two decades. The First Nations have applied for $4 million in federal funding for the project but must first obtain provincial approval.

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Roberta Bondar

Roberta Lynn Bondar, CC, OOnt, FRSCastronaut, neurologist, physician, educator, photographer (born 4 December 1945 in Sault Ste Marie, ON). Bondar became the first Canadian woman and second Canadian in space when she flew aboard the American space shuttle Discovery in 1992. A doctor specializing in the nervous system, she is a pioneer in space medicine research. Bondar is also an exhibited and published nature photographer. She established The Roberta Bondar Foundation to educate people about environmental protection through art, and she currently serves as one of the organization’s directors.