Know Your Ward: KEREN TANG for Ward 11

Environmental Profiles of Candidates Running for Edmonton City Council

Name: Keren Tang

Ward: 11

View Map of Ward: City_Ward_Individual_Map_Ward_11

Why are you running for city council?

“I moved to Edmonton about five years ago to do my Master’s in Health Promotion. A big part of why I chose Edmonton was because I saw it as a growing city where I had a chance of making a real impact. After moving here, I got involved in advocacy on active transportation and the river valley, and I saw that my actions did have a real impact, which I found really empowering. But not everyone feels this [way]. I’m running for City Council because I want to make sure that more people feel their voices are heard. I want to make sure that diverse experiences reflected in our city are brought to the table when making policy decisions. I believe my health background brings an important perspective to the table.”

15626117_1817352175216238_4280781273742173581_o
Profile Photo of Keren Tang.
Source: https://www.facebook.com/kerentangyeg/photos/a.181316151230 1971.1073741825.1813159325635523/1817352175216238/?type=1&theater

What do you know about the way civic government operates?

“My understanding of our civic government comes from personal, community, and professional experiences. Our municipal government is responsible for areas including transit, roads[,] and city infrastructures including drainage and water, police service, [and] public services such libraries and recreation. Our City Council operates much like a board with a chair (Mayor) and board members (12 [Councilors]). They play a critical bridge-building role between the people who elected them to represent their interest and government decision-making and policy development. I’m familiar with the policy development process through my current work as a policy analyst with the provincial government. My professional background working with communities at the grassroots level has given me a deep appreciation for what it means to be a bridge between the local community and political decision-making. I have board governance experience through a number of organizations addressing health promotion, environmental conservation, multiculturalism, and girls empowerment. These experiences have equipped me with the skills and understanding needed to serve on City Council.”

Mill Creek Clean - IMG_2217_20170507
Photo Source: photo is from Mill Creek Ravine cleanup – provided by Keren Tang

What do you want to focus on as a city councillor and how will you get it done?

“My focus is on healthy community, but health is determined by many factors, like education, transportation, social and physical environment, early childhood development, etc. We call these factors the ‘social determinants of health’. I would apply this lens to City decision-making, and I would apply my community engagement experience from working with Indigenous peoples, youth, and newcomer immigrants. My approach for any project is always starting at the grassroots level. It’s important for people in the community to identify issues, shape them, and discuss how they’d like their needs to be met. Meaningfully listening to people and incorporating their ideas into policies would allow us to bring everyday lives and experiences to the table at City Hall. Ultimately, I see myself more in a facilitator role as a [Councilor] working with communities, and less in a hierarchical leadership role. I want to politically engage the community. That’s how I think things get done.”

How do environmental issues fit into your vision/plan as a potential city councillor?

“As a health promoter, I understand the impact of environment – both built and natural – on our health and wellness. I have been serving on the board of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society (“NSRVCS”) for several years because of my passion for nature, the river valley, and green space. I would allocate resources to protect Edmonton’s river valley and other green spaces, supporting the vision of a Ribbon of Green. I have also been an active transportation advocate, helping to start the Edmonton Bike Coalition. Active transportation and conservation efforts all have an impact on our environmental responsibility as a city, reducing our carbon footprint, and curbing climate change. I’d like to see Edmonton as an environmental leader.”

What would having constitutional environmental rights (e.g. the right to clean air, clean water, safe food, to access nature, etc.) mean to you both personally, and as a city councillor? 

“The environment plays such an important role in our health, so I see environmental rights tightly connected to health rights, and everyone has the right to live a healthy life. I think about my daughter, and I want to protect what natural environment we have for her and for future generations. Ultimately, having environmental rights would help us as private citizens to be better ecological stewards.”

If elected city councillor would you support having Edmonton make a ‘Blue Dot Pledge”, joining the over 100,000 Canadians, and over 140 cities, declaring that your city “believes every Canadian deserves the right to a healthy environment”?

“Yes, I would take this pledge. However, I would go beyond this pledge by promoting programs and policies that support the right to a healthy environment.”

Where can people go to learn more about you and your campaign?

To learn more about me and my campaign, please visit my website (http://www.kerentang.ca), follow me on twitter (@kerentangyeg), look up my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kerentangyeg/), or reach me by e-mail (kerentangyeg@gmail.com).

Keren_Family
Keren Tang with her husband and daughter.
Photo Source: http://www.kerentang.ca/about

Five ‘Environmental Rights’ Questions with Kelcie Miller-Anderson

Photo Credit: Alberta Oil Magazine: http://www.albertaoilmagazine.com/2016/07/kelcie-miller-anderson/
Photo Credit: Alberta Oil Magazine: http://www.albertaoilmagazine.com/2016/07/kelcie-miller-anderson/

Kelcie Miller-Anderson

Founder at MycoRemedy

Canadas Top 20 Under 20,

Next 36 2016 Cohort

1) What would having constitutional environmental rights (e.g. the right to clean air, clean water, safe food, to access nature, etc.) mean to you, and/or your organization? 

“Access to a healthy environment is something I think that everyone deserves, having constitutional environmental rights are a fantastic first step in making this access a reality for all. I think we as a province, our communities, government, and industry, are already moving in the right direction to securing a healthy and sustainable future for Alberta’s ecosystems,

[and] having these constitutional rights in place are only going to further motivate and drive the creation of new clean technologies, and [improve] our current industries to lessen and ultimately reverse their impacts.”

2) What do you think people in Edmonton can and/or should do to further the cause of environmental rights?

“I think an important first step is to show the value [that] environmental rights have to our community and [the] commitment we have to them.[….] I believe we can show this by actively engaging in sustainable practices and making an effort to focus on being good environmental stewards as a community. If these rights are ever going to be ensured, it’s not going to just be the responsibility of the government, it’s also important for our communities to be actively engaged[.] [I]f we can show we are taking the first step to help secure environmental rights we will be able to lead by example [and] highlight their importance to the government.”

3) What are you (or your organization/business/group) doing to further the cause of environmental rights? (i.e. either directly or indirectly)

“Environmental rights aren’t going to be achieved by governmental regulations alone. Myself and my organization, MycoRemedy, are committed to creating access to healthy ecosystems, by creating new, low­ impact, natural technologies that can remediate and restore polluted soils and environments. Industry plays such an important role in our province, both socially and economically, and its important we are able to support both the industry and the environment at the same time. [The] way to create a prosperous future for Alberta, with a strong economy and healthy environment, is through environmental innovations and solutions that support both industry and ecosystems.”

4) 110 nations around the world recognize their citizens’ right to a healthy environment. Why do you think Canada hasn’t done this yet? (i.e. what do you think are the biggest obstacles in the way?)

“I don’t think [it’s] that Canada as a nation does not recognize or value the right to healthy environment, and I think that perhaps in the future this will come. Canada is ahead of many nations in terms of its environmental regulations set out to —

Photo Credit: MycoRemedy logo taken from LinkedIn website: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sns-technologists/comments?topic=6146154063961612288&type=U&scope=1240063&stype=C&a=CBrH&showModal=true
Photo Credit: MycoRemedy logo taken from: http://www.mycoremedy.com/

 

— protect our environment, however we also have an economy that is very dependent on resources. Although it’s the responsibility of the government to protect our environment, it’s also their responsibility to protect our industry sectors, jobs, and our economy. I think the big challenge at this point is our technology isn’t quite at the point to eliminate and minimize the environmental impacts of industry, but the government is actively encouraging the implementation and development of environmental solutions to green our industries, and I think they have helped us come a long way.”

5) Would you be willing to sign the ‘Blue Dot Pledge”, joining the over 100,000 Canadians, and declare that you “[b]elieve every Canadian deserves the right to a healthy environment”? .

Yes.

You can find out more about Ms. Miller-Anderson’s work at http://www.mycoremedy.com/

~ Jacob Marchel

Five ‘Environmental Rights’ Questions with Sina Kazemi

Sina Kazemi - President of the Environmental Law Students' Association (ELSA)
Sina Kazemi – President of the Environmental Law Students’ Association (ELSA)

1) What would having constitutional environmental rights (e.g. the right to clean air, clean water, safe food, to access nature, etc.) mean to you, and the Environmental Law Students’ Association? 

“Personally, I believe the [constitutional] right to a healthy environment… means that people can expect higher standards with respect to pollution, greater action on preserving vital ecosystems, and would provide a means to take legal action against government conduct that affects the environment. Constitutionally-protected environmental rights can also be used alongside Aboriginal rights, [protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982], to provide greater protection for Indigenous groups and would be another step towards reconciliation.”

2) What do you think people in Edmonton can and/or should do to further the cause of environmental rights?

“I think the best way to further the cause of environmental rights is by joining a movement to voice your support and take action. For example, the City of Edmonton currently has not passed a declaration supporting the right to a healthy environment, so joining a movement such as BlueDot to influence Edmonton City Council to pass a declaration would be one way to take action. In addition, encouraging friends, family and other individuals in your community to write to their City Councillor, MLA, and MP in support of environmental rights would go a long way towards informing decision-makers that this issue is important to Canadians.”

3) What are you and ELSA doing to further the cause of environmental rights? 

ELSA Official Logo - Credit: ELSA Facebook Profile Photo
ELSA Official Logo – Credit: ELSA Facebook Profile Photo

“Our organization, the Environmental Law Students Association (ELSA), is working on several new initiatives […]. For example, we are currently in the process of helping to create an environmental law clinic at the University of Alberta. A clinic such as this would allow law students, under the supervision of a lawyer, to assist members of the public with environmental legal issues. We are also in the early stages of launching a divestment campaign, to encourage the University of Alberta to divest from fossil fuels.”

4) 110 nations around the world recognize their citizens’ right to a healthy environment. Why do you think Canada hasn’t done this yet? 

“There are two methods to get Canada to recognize the right to a healthy environment, each presenting unique obstacles. An amendment of Canada’s Constitution, which the BlueDot campaign is aiming to achieve, is extremely difficult to do with many political factors to consider. The other way would be through litigation aiming to read in environmental protection with existing provisions of the Constitution, such as section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protecting the right to life, liberty and security of the person. However, this would require a case with the right set of facts and would also be a tremendously expensive endeavour.”

5) Would you be willing to sign the ‘Blue Dot Pledge”, joining the over 100,000 Canadians, and declare that you “[b]elieve every Canadian deserves the right to a healthy environment”? .

http://bluedot.ca/join-us/

“Absolutely!”

For more information on the Environmental Law Student Association at the University of Alberta please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Environmental-Law-Students-Association-ELSA-University-of-Alberta-118051618259211/

~ Jacob Marchel