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 M. Murphy, Vanessa Gray, Kristen Bos, Reena Shadaan, Beze Gray, and Fernanda Yanchapaxi. 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 also highlight Aamjiwnaang’s experiences through any stories or comments from community members

2)  The Pollution Reporter 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. The app focuses on Ontario’s Chemical Valley, and is guided by Aamjiwnaang community researchers and members. The app gathers and translates diverse technical information into an accessible form so that people can more easily link health issues to facility activities. The app is built for community users and is searchable by symptom and pollutant 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. The app also has a reporting function that allows community members to report spills, leaks, flares and other pollution events to the Ontario Ministry of Environment using their phones and email. The first iteration of the app focused on the emissions of the Imperial Oil Refinery in Sarnia, but now it contains all facilities in Chemical Valley.

We hope the app will be useful to any frontline community in Canada. This app is built by the EDJ team in collaboration with The City as Platform Lab (Beth Coleman) and Reflector Digital.  Pollution Reporter is downloadable on phones and tablets in both Google Play Store and the App Store.

EDJ Lab Contacts:

Michelle Murphy: michelle.murphy@utoronto.ca

Vanessa Gray: v.gray@utoronto.ca