The Environmental Data Justice Lab is an Indigenous led lab that focuses on the relationships between data, pollution, and colonialism.

It has two major projects:

1) The Land and the Refinery: Past, Present, Future

This is an Indigenous-led project organized led by Vanessa Gray and Michelle Murphy, with lab members Kristen Bos, Reena Shadaan, and Ladan Siad. We are researching the history, operations and pollution activities of the Imperial Oil Refinery in Canada’s Chemical Valley, the oldest refinery in North America. Chemical Valley is located on Anishinaabe land and surrounds Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

The project aims to gather together and make publicly accessible information about this refinery. This includes gathering historical information, pollution reporting and regulating, and health effect research. This research is intended to support Aamjiwnaang community members in advocating for less pollution and the future of Chemical Valley they want. We hope this research will also help to hold companies responsible for the pollution and health harms they create. The story of this Imperial Oil Refinery demonstrates the relationship between pollution and colonialism in Canada. This project will result in an educational website, interactive app, and publications.

This project includes archival documents, historic timelines, interactive maps of land acquisition, refinery operations, and history of environmental regulations. We hope to also highlight Aamjiwnaang’s experiences through any stories or comments from community members.

2) The Chemical Responsibilities Interactive App:

This app uses publicly available data on refinery emission (NPRI) and connects them to the known health effects and symptoms based on published peer-reviewed medical literatures. Our vision for this app is to bring to the community our research gathering diverse technical information that will be translated into an accessible form so that people can more easily link health issues to facility activities. The app will be built for community users and be searchable by symptom, so that users will have an accessible database of chemical pollutants and their effects that we hope will be useful for the community to advocate for the changes they want. All materials and software will be open and free. The app is being prototyped with facilities in Chemical Valley, and if successful will be useful to any frontline community in Canada. We hope this app will 1) provide access to important information and 2) explicitly connect responsibility for health effects to specific facilities. The app will also facilitate community members ability to report spills and accidents to the Ministry of Environment.  This app is built by the EDJ team in collaboration with Prof Beth Coleman. 

EDJ Lab Contacts:

Michelle Murphy: michelle.murphy@utoronto.ca

Vanessa Gray: v.gray@utoronto.ca