Richelle Martin: Environmental Advocate & 2018 Recipient for the Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award
Richelle Martin is the 2018 recipient of the Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award, and this fall, will be pursuing a Law Degree at the University of Ottawa. With this degree, Richelle hopes to use law as a tool to have a more meaningful impact in the field, and to strengthen her ability as an environmental advocate.
While pursuing this degree is her first foray into the world of environmental law, Richelle’s journey as an environmental advocate is well underway. Having worked with the Nature Trust of New-Brunswick for the past six years, Richelle has been actively using her voice to protect nature in Canada for some time. In her position at the Nature Trust, she was responsible for the management of 50 nature preserves across the Province and the facilitation of community involvement in volunteer land stewardship. From there, the conservation of nature and diversity of living things became the driving force for the path that she has chosen in life.
Her passion for nature is something that strengthened through Richelle’s professional endeavors, but that was innate to her at a very young age. Richelle notes that, having grown up in rural Eastern Canada, “a connection to nature could be easily fostered from a young age. Spring was signaled by the call of spring peepers, summers were spent camping and swimming in the lake, fall brought colourful hardwood forest canopies, and winter meant skating in the backyard pond. I have always admired the extreme changes of seasons where I live and the ability of nature to adapt and thrive.”
She notes that, as she has grown up, her admiration for the nature that surrounds us has grown in tandem with her appreciation for everything it does for us. Putting it quite plainly, she shares that, “the food and water that nourish us, the air we breathe, our mental wellbeing, our economy, and the survival of species all depend on intact natural systems. As self-aware citizens of the Earth, it is our responsibility to be stewards of it.”
Richelle noted how important this scholarship was, and how it is a key piece of the puzzle to help finance her education, and remain an active environmental advocate. This support will award her with more time to become involved in volunteer work and activities in environmental law, applying what she is learning to the conservation of nature in Canada.
Looking beyond her next few years of studies, Richelle hopes to use her degree to work with both NGOs and government to develop stronger environmental laws and policies that protect biodiversity and ensure future generations’ access to a healthy environment. She also shared that she sees herself as an educator, with part of her role as a lawyer being to educate the public on their rights, and in empowering grassroots community organizations and people with the power of the law. By empowering grassroots community groups and people, we will be able to use the power of the law to better hold law breakers accountable for harm to the environment.
Richelle extends her thanks to the Labatiuk family for their generous scholarship, which supports people who aim to protect and conserve nature in Canada.