The Ecojustice Atlantic office is officially open, and we can’t wait for you to meet our newest team members.

We’ve just opened the doors to our Atlantic Canada office, based in beautiful Halifax, N.S.

It’s been a long time coming. In our experience, a critical part of being an effective legal advocate for the environment is having boots on the ground — so to speak — to build the community and client relationships that are vital to our mission of using the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.

It was with that idea in mind that we set out on a nation-wide survey of potential office locations. After much deliberation, and in recognition of the urgent need for more environmental law resources in Atlantic Canada, we picked Halifax as our newest home base.

Located at 1801 Hollis Street, Ecojustice Atlantic will be staffed by lawyers James Gunvaldsen Klaassen and Sarah McDonald, and legal administrative assistant Genevieve Rondeau.

Meet the team

James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, staff lawyer

James joins the Ecojustice team after litigating cases in Canadian courts for the past 20 years, and acting as counsel with the Department of Justice until April 2018.

“I feel very lucky to be part of the new Halifax office and to work on issues that are important to Atlantic Canada. This new office helps us on the ground in Atlantic Canada – we have the opportunity to use the law to challenge carbon-emitting industries in our region, fight environmental racism, stop the clearcutting of our old-growth forests and protect threatened and endangered species, like the North Atlantic Right Whale, Atlantic Salmon and Striped Bass.

I also welcome the chance to work on issues like the crisis of plastic accumulation in our marine environment­ — this pollution is collecting on our beaches, contaminating our rivers and soils, filling our landfills, and killing our ecosystems.”

 

Sarah McDonald, Articling Student

Sarah McDonald, staff lawyer

Sarah joins the Atlantic office from Ecojustice Toronto office, where she articled and moved into a staff lawyer role in 2017.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Ecojustice’s new Halifax team. I lived in Halifax for three years while attending law school at Dalhousie University, and fell in love with Nova Scotia’s stunning natural spaces. Now that I’m a lawyer with Ecojustice in Halifax, my goal is to ensure that industrial development in the Atlantic provinces does not come at the expense of the species and spaces on which we all depend.

I believe that Ecojustice can be a strong force for environmental protection in Atlantic Canada, and I’m excited to get working!”

 

Genevieve Rondeau, legal administrative assistant & office administrator

Genevieve joins Ecojustice after spending much of her legal career supporting the work of counsel at the Department of Justice in both immigration and tax law.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Ecojustice team here in Halifax. It’s like a dream come true — living in a place I love and working for what I believe in most.

I am looking forward to seeing advocacy in action — from the communities demanding clean water and thriving ecosystems, to ensuring protection and restoration of habitat of the living organisms in the waters, fields and  forests.”

Looking ahead

With this new, centralized location, the Ecojustice team now has the opportunity to work more closely with local partners and strengthen the environmental community’s impact in Atlantic Canada.

Key issues our team will be looking to tackle in the years ahead include marine protection, poor implementation and enforcement of endangered species laws, threats to air and water quality, and unsustainable resource extraction.

And while we’ve only just opened the doors to our office in Halifax, the Ecojustice team is no stranger to Atlantic Canada.  Here’s a quick recap of some of our recent work in the region:

  • We worked with East Coast Environmental Law to help residents of Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia, fight for their right to clean, safe drinking water. Ecojustice lawyers went to court on multiple occasions on behalf of Harrietsfield residents to successfully uphold clean-up orders for the industrial site that had contaminated their drinking water.
  • We worked with Sierra Club Canada Foundation and East Coast Environmental Law to help Canada challenge a North American Free Trade Agreement ruling that could force Canada to pay upwards of $500 million in damages for enforcing its own environmental laws. The case was dismissed earlier this spring.
  • Last year, Ecojustice lawyers launched a lawsuit to stop risky and unlawful offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to the beluga whale, leatherback sea turtle and more than 4,000 other species. This case is ongoing.

 

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