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.”

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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 Brandy Burdeniuk

Brandy-Budeniuk.
Photo provided from Ms. Budeniuk’ LinkedIn Profile. 

Brandy Burdeniuk

EcoAmmo/ Principal, BDes, Industrial Design, LEED Accredited Professional Building Design + Construction

Business Development at EcoAmmo

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?

“Across the board [constitutional environmental rights] allow for more collective agreement. They would help prevent polarizing the discussion when talking about other environmental issues; we’d all start at the same–

— place. Right now the question is ‘are [environmental rights] even important?’. But once they’d be part of the constitution, it would allow us to get past that first question of importance. We’d never have to preface discussions with whether or not they are important and why [….] we’d just get to talk about solving those environmental issues.”

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

“Have patience. A lot of people are just starting to recognize the importance of environmental rights, whereas [other] people have devoted their whole lives. Right now there is a ‘coming of age’. We need more discussion with Edmonton experts. Edmonton is a huge importer of knowledge and exporter of experts, we have incredible people in the science and humanities side who have actively made [environmental issues] part of their business culture. There were previous conversations that bent towards ‘the environment versus entrepreneurship’. But now you’re seeing more, [both] as an international and local trend, if you want to succeed in business, be it from office culture all the way to pleasing shareholders and eliminating risk, you have to include and address environmental issues. So people should just be patient and keep working towards those goals in whatever way they can.”

3) What are you (or your organization/business/group) doing to further the cause of environmental rights?

“For the last 10 years the business I am a part of, EcoAmmo, has worked to help people see where they can fit environmental improvements in their decisions, projects, etc. The aim of [EcoAmmo] is to move towards greater sustainability….so we come from place where we see environmental rights as important. We create an outlet for change by leading by example to improve where we live. For example, our focus is with ‘green’ building and efficiency. In Edmonton, we expanded the city’s market for green building choices, and so that is how I think we further the cause of environmental rights.”

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

“We [Canadians] think we are so ‘resource rich’ because we see nature all the time. [So] by default we think we already exist in a healthy environment, and think we don’t need the help … —

EcoAmmo oogo provided via twitter: https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/747823365159739396/01SHZl9G.jpg

ecoammo_logo

–I think the Alberta government just started using the words ‘climate change’ about 600 days ago. In the previous conservative government we could not say climate change. But thankfully this has changed, the government is only now addressing the issue. Also, we [the people] are still so polarized in how we talk, and we don’t challenge our government. We don’t see the major challenges that will become more common from an environmental health and wellness issue. We just don’t see it in ‘our backyard’ we haven’t felt it first hand enough yet.”

 5) Would you be willing to sign the ‘Blue Dot Pledge” (*at http://bluedot.ca/join-us/), joining the over 100,000 Canadians, and declare that you “[b]elieve every Canadian deserves the right to a healthy environment”? .

“Yes. Absolutely.”

For more information on the work Ms. Budeniuk does, please visit EcoAmmo’s website at http://www.ecoammo.com. Also, Ms. Budeniuk is currently running for Edmonton city councillor for ward 11. So to stay informed of her campaign, follow her on twitter @votebrandy.

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 Professor Cameron Jefferies

profile-2

Photo from the University of Alberta website:

https://www.ualberta.ca/law/about/contact/profiles/cameron-jefferies

Cameron Jefferies, BSc, LLB, LLM, SJD

Assistant Professor

Borden Ladner Gervais Fellow

University of Alberta, Faculty of Law

 

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?

“It is well understood that environmental protection and conservation is a fundamental value of Canadian society. National opinion polls consistently evidence this and our highest court has recognized it as well. Personally, I am interested in how we can achieve a more sustainable Canada and believe that recognizing environmental rights, at whatever level, means that Canadians will get a different tool to use in pursuit of improving their local environment and Canada’s reputation as an environmental steward. For me the discussion does not start and stop with constitutionalized rights. That might be an awesome end goal, but there are a whole bunch of intermediate steps that can be taken along the way—municipal declarations, provincial statutes, etc. These are all important pieces of the environmental rights movement.”

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

“At one level it is about educating yourself. What are environmental rights? How could they make a difference to me or my community? After that, it is about helping spread the word. Talk to your friends and family about these things, maybe send a letter or email to your city councillor letting them know what a healthy environment means to you!”

3) What are you as an academic doing to further the cause of environmental rights?

“In teaching my courses on environmental law, international environmental law, and sustainability I introduce students to the idea and potential operation of environmental rights in the Canadian context. I also explore related issues in my academic writing. This is definitely an aspect of emerging Canadian law and policy that can’t be ignored.”

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?)

“There are a number of obstacles. For one, most of our foundational constitutional documents were drafted back in the 1860s, well before most prominent law makers were aware of environmental conservation issues the way we are today. Then, when Canada patriated its constitution in the early 1980s and included the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, environmental rights did not attract enough attention to warrant inclusion. One of our biggest obstacles, then, is that our supreme laws do not recognize environmental protection and amending them to achieve this sort of recognition is difficult and not likely to happen—at least any time soon. Therefore, it falls to the federal government, the provinces, and even municipalities to consider different ways that they can include environmental rights in law and policy help Canada move towards a greener and healthier future.”

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/

“Already done.”

Photo from the Oxford University Press:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/marine-mammal-conservation-and-the-law-of-the-sea-9780190493141?cc=ca&lang=en&

You can learn more about Professor Jefferies, and his work, on the U of A Faculty of Law page here:

https://www.ualberta.ca/law/about/contact/profiles/cameron-jefferies

Additionally, you can purchase his new book entitled:

Marine Mammal Conservation and the Law of the Seaonline at https://global.oup.com/academic/product/marine-mammal-conservation-and-the-law-of-the-sea-9780190493141?cc=ca&lang=en&

~ Jacob Marchel

Five ‘Environmental Rights’ Questions with Miranda Jimmy

Photo Credit: Miranda Jimmy of RISE

Taken from Twitter: @TheMirandaJimmy

(https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/784904671211192320/V-ibhLp_.jpg)

Miranda Jimmy

RISE – Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton

https://www.facebook.com/RISEdmonton/

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?

“I’m First Nations [Cree] so on a personal level it means a lot. You may have heard in the media about First Nations communities not having access to clean water, and although Northern Ontario receives a lot of attention, it recently came out that 90% of Alberta’s First Nations communities have been under a ‘boil advisory’ in the last 10 years. Not having access to fresh water is something that is hard to grasp for people […], so [constitutional environmental rights] would help bring awareness to these types of problems in [Canada].”

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

“First and foremost Edmonton is a government city. The decision makers of the province work here. So Edmontonians have good access to those people compared to those [living] in remote communities. So people in Edmonton have a responsibility, not to speak for those remote communities, but to be allies and bring their voice.”

3) What are you (or your organization) doing to further the cause of environmental rights?

“My organization is called RISE (Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton), where the idea of reconciliation means having a level of commitment from everyone involved…RISE aims to bring awareness not only to past reconciliation issues, but [also] current problems like water access, housing, education, [etc.]….again things most people in Canada take for granted. [With RISE] the simple thing we do that has a lot of impact is using social media to share news and stories on indigenous issues, and have people connect to us. [We want to] give people an opportunity to engage. If we can show that there is a present day issue, it creates a call to action to make a difference.”

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 think there are two things. Firstly, it is change in the federal government going forward. Previously, both the Federal and Provincial [Conservative] governments had been complacent with environmental issues. Resource development trumped everything else…only focusing on the short term. Now more recently the LNG pipeline decision seems to make it clear that the Liberal government is taking a similar view. Secondly, as a society we take our environment for granted, Canadians think we have an endless supply of natural beauty and resources, maybe this is starting to change…but we as Canadians still cling to the idea of a vast wilderness.”

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/ 

“Yes, absolutely. I actually believe I already signed it.”

Photo Credit: RISE Logo —  Taken from Official Facebook Page –(https://www.facebook.com/RISEdmonton/photos/a.1452549211704840.1073741825.1452548438371584/1452549218371506/?type=1&theater)

You can learn more about Miranda Jimmy’s work with RISE on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RISEdmonton/ In addition, Ms. Jimmy is currently, running for City Councillor for Ward 5 — one platform is the access to green space. You can learn more about that here: http://mirandajimmy.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