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History and Mission

History of the group

ASEQ-EHAQ is a group that has been built and run by volunteers who strongly believe in the necessity for change with regards to environmental sensitivities (ES). It is unacceptable for us to watch people suffering and do nothing to help them.Our compassion and caring are constantly called to action when on a daily basis we are presented with suffering and illness that is not being adequately / properly addressed. This in turn leads to loss of EMPLOYMENT and sometimes loss of housing, family and their support system.

We constantly see the deplorable: people misunderstood and marginalized, and all because they have lost tolerance for chemicals commonly encountered in the myriad of products that are used, by mould, by electromagnetic radiation, etc.Despite all this, we are constantly amazed by the ingenious ways members cope with and overcome the most challenging and seemingly hopeless situations.

These are the people who drive the energy that moves the group.

Our goal is to have ES recognized, and for s to receive appropriate treatment and social services here in Québec.

The Group

As a result of numerous appeals from people suffering from toxic injury, the allergy and Environmental Health Association (presently known as the Environmental Health Association of Québec) was started in 2004. One of the first informal meetings took place in a park in Westmount, Québec. Five people, many of whom were severely intolerant to perfumes and other chemicals and who could not find any building in which to meet, came together in the only place they could all tolerate, and held the group’s first meeting. They dared to dream – of reaching out to others with the same health problem, of obtaining healthy spaces so they could get their freedom back, of treatment and support so that they could recover their health. Those pioneers were Solona Armstrong, Lila Gotthiel, Paula McKeown, Rohini Peris and Michel Gaudet

Over the years, membership has grown to 1,400 and is continually increasing. Among ASEQ-EHAQ’s many tasks, priority has always been given to providing members with support and help. This has been a challenging and often difficult task, since the group is almost exclusively run by volunteers, some of whom suffer from ES.

To fulfill a desperate need for affordable healthy housing and to provide credible information on ES, we have been working on projects related to housing and education.

The housing project is located in the clean air of the Laurentian mountains where 25 acres of land has graciously been donated. Our partners in this project are Aziz Dennoune from the Technical Resource Group Réseau 2000+ and TREMBLAY LÉCUYER ARCHITECTE (TLA). We are presently collaborating with Claire Vanier (Service aux collectivités de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Rachel Cox (Professeure, Département des sciences juridiques, UQAM), Lise Parent (Professeure en Sciences de l’environnement TÉLUQ) and Marie-Ève Brodeur (Agente de développement, Projet de formation sur les hypersensibilités environnementales) on an educational project funded by the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport du Québec.Our sincere thanks to all our partners and collaborators for their dedicated work on our projects.

This educational project has reached many regions of Québec. If you would like more information about our projects and how you can participate, please contact ASEQ-EHAQ.
ASEQ-EHAQ has participated in eco events, exhibitions and other public events in order to raise awareness about and advocate for ES through education and prevention. Prevention includes teaching how to choose least toxic products and services in order to create and maintain good health.
To learn about our programs and activities, please click here. They have been developed over the years and are directed toward support and help for members and people suffering from environmental illness.

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Fall 2004 A conference entitled ‘Pesticides in our Bodies – A Toxic Legacy’ was organized to launch ASEQ-EHAQ. It was attended by over 500 people and covered in both French and English media across Québec.

2005 A petition addressed to the National Assembly asking for recognition and health and social services for people suffering from ES was circulated. Our first scent-free meeting was held in Montréal at the Centre St-Pierre. ASEQ-EHAQ joined the Canadian Environmental Network, participated in its Toxics and Health Caucuses and represented it at meetings with Environment Canada and Health Canada. EHAQ’s first website was created by a volunteer.

2006 Our petition was tabled in the National Assembly on October 10, 2006. We started to work on a healthy housing project and a made presentation on the Review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 99). We requested that people suffering from ES be recognized, protected and included as a part of the vulnerable population in Canada. We started offering support meetings.

At the end of 2006 the group received a grant from the CANADA MORTGAGE and Housing Corporation to prepare a feasibility study on a vacant school in Beaconsfield, in order to convert the building into healthy apartments for people suffering from ES. The group worked with a technical resource group, an architect, Bernard Olivier, from the architectural firm l’OEUF, and Anne-Marie Parent, from the firm Parent Latreille et Associés, .

2007 We co-hosted an event in Montréal with the Environmental Health Committee of the Québec College of Family Physicians, entitled ‘Consultations on Consumer Products’, and sponsored by national groups: the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) and Pollution Probe. Participation was by invitation only and included physicians, government representatives, public health officials, NGO’s, academics and Industry.

In October we organized six workshops which were held over five days. The workshops were entitled ‘Playing it Safe: Service Provider Strategies to Reduce Environmental Risks to Child Health’. This event was very successful and well attended by caregivers, service providers, parents and professionals from school boards, hospitals, schools, daycare coordinating offices, santé public Montréal, CLSC’s, Health Canada, Environment Québec, nurses, some representatives from the press and businesses wanting to make ecological changes for the health of their staff. Once again, we had the support of the Environmental and Health Committee of the Québec College of Family Physicians, the Syndicat des professionnelles en soins infirmiers cardio-respiratoires and several well-known NGO’s such as the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women, the Green Coalition, BREAST CANCER Action Montreal, La Maison du 21e siècle, the Urban Ecology Centre and Option Consommateurs.

ASEQ-EHAQ was invited to speak at the Montréal School Board at an event entitled ‘T’es vert, t’es en santé’, on toxic chemicals, health effects and alternatives. It was a good opportunity to create awareness on environmental sensitivities. This event was attended by over 500 people. The responses to a questionnaire which was filled out by all participants indicated that people were very enthusiastic about making changes and appreciated the workshops. We were asked to organize more workshops in spring 2008.

The feasibility study for a housing project was completed in 2007. It was determined from the financial feasibility analysis that the group could pay one million dollars for the school and surrounding land. The Lester B Pearson School Board asked for four million. Since there was no political will to support the project, or people suffering from ES, the project fell through.

2008 A special assembly of members was called to discuss a change of name. the assembly voted to drop the ‘Allergy’ from our name and renamed it ‘l’Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec–Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ). The membership of the group was 900 in 2008. In order to provide reliable information and good management strategies on ES, we began working on an Eco Resource Guide. The group participated in the Salon national de l’environnement in Montréal, and other eco events in Brome and St-Anne de Bellevue.

A member from Morin-Heights offered to donate land to the group for affordable, healthy housing. The municipality of Morin-Heights determined that the size of the lot was not sufficient to support forty units. A neighbouring lot situated in the municipality of Mille-Isles was for sale at a very affordable price. The owner of the land was impressed by the group’s project and agreed to wait until ASEQ-EHAQ contacted Mille-Isles. The municipality of Mille-Isles requested a feasibility study and a presentation of the project.

2009 Membership was at 1000. Projects and services as described in ‘Programs and Activities’ continued in 2009. In addition, we participated with groups across Canada to promote ‘Healthy Schools’ day on April 27, 2009. Towards the end of 2009 we participated in the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Québec College of Family Physicians with an information booth. There was a workshop at the event for doctors on environmental sensitivities.

ASEQ-EHAQ, architect Bernard Olivier and a representative from Réseau 2000+ presented a feasibility study for a housing project in Mille-Isles. The mayor and council at Mille-Isles welcomed our project and asked for a review by their planning department. We were informed that while Mille-Isles was very pleased with the project, the land requirement to sustain a project of 40 units, was 25 acres. An active search for land was conducted throughout the year.

2010 Membership was up to 1200. Forty-one volunteers gave 6000 hours of their time to the group. ASEQ-EHAQ now had one part-time employee through a grant from Emploi-Québec. We collaborated with UQÀM on a project for education, awareness and prevention of ES, we participated with groups across Canada to promote ‘Healthy School’ day on April 27, 2010. A well-attended conference was organized by ASEQ-EHAQ along with the Vegetarian Association of Montréal on April 22, 2010, entitled ‘Toxic footprint – How safe is your food?’. The conference was held at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC), Montréal. A two day ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop entitled ‘How to reduce environmental risks for the health of children’ was held in Montreal on June 10 and 11, 2010, at the Centre St-Pierre, led by Myriam Beaulne. The workshop was jointly funded by Health Canada and ASEQ-EHAQ. A press release was sent out on May 12, 2010 for Environmental Sensitivities Day in Québec. An exercise session entitled ‘Environmental Sensitivity / Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Exercise’ was held on October 23, 2010 at Résidence des Écores, Laval. A support meeting/ Christmas party was held at Mountainside United Church in Montreal, on December 4 2010. The ‘Eco Resource Guide’ is continued.

2011 Beginning of a two-year project entitled ‘Enivronmental Sensitivities: how to manage this condition? Training on the biological and legal aspects’ in collaboration with UQÀM, TELUQ and UQÀM`s Service aux Collectivités, funded by the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport. The first year consisted in information gathering and the creation of tools and workshops. The training workshops will begin in fall 2012 and will be held to `train the trainers’. The training workshops will be led by professors from UQÀM and TELUQ in collaboration with ASEQ-EHAQ. Workshops will given in at least 10 regions of Québec by trainers with support from UQAM and ASEQ-EHAQ. The aim of the workshops is to help people suffering from ES, their families, entourage and support systems in order to better understand this illness. In addition, the aim is to provide the necessary tools and resources for better management of ES. This project will help people learn about their Rights regarding housing and the workplace, and will augment their understanding of ES on the aspects of biology. ASEQ-EHAQ has contacted members and groups across Québec to participate in the project and has received a positive response despite the disability suffered by many.

The departments of Law and Biology at the University of UQÀM and TELUQ will teach the legal and biological aspects of ES.

ASEQ-EHAQ participated with groups across Canada to promote ‘Healthy School’ day on April 27, 2011. We also co-sponsored a conference with the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health, entitled ‘Policies Needed! Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Women’s Health’. This conference was held on March 30, 2011 at the Sheraton HOTEL in Montréal. Rohini Peris, President of ASEQ-EHAQ was one of the speakers.

In May the group met with a gracious benefactor who promised to donate 25 acres of land in the municipality of Mille-Isles. The municipality was in the process of amending its bylaws which meant that our housing project would fit its urbanization plans. Aziz Dennoune from the Groupe de Ressources Technique (GRT) Réseau 2000+, and the architect, Bernard Olivier from the architectural firm L’OEUF, got together with ASEQ-EHAQ to start preparations for a funding application to the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) to build affordable, healthy housing. ASEQ-EHAQ made a successful request to the Canada Revenue Agency to add ‘Housing’ to its mission.

A special poster was created for the month of May which is ES month. We created a symbol to represent ES, and made a pin which features the symbol.

On May 9 2011, a conference entitled ‘Health, environment, governance and emergent long term risks’ was organized by l’Institut des Sciences de l’Environnement et l’Equipe du Gretess de l’UQAM. Michel Gaudet, vice-president of ASEQ-EHAQ made a presentation on ES. The title of his presentation was ‘Environmental Sensitivities – Multiple Chemical Sensitivities: an urgent need for recognition, prevention and health services’.

Conference was co-organized with the Institute of Sciences of the Environment, UQÀM and the Health Caucus, Canadian Environmental Network. It was held on May 12, 2011 for ‘ES Day’ at Coeur des Sciences, UQÀM, entitled ‘Environmental Health: Seeds of Change – A conference on Environmental Sensitivities’. The Chair of the conference was Barry Breger, MD. Speakers were Michel Gaudet, Louise Vandelac Ph.D, Meg Sears, Ph.D, Richard Nahas, MD, Me Judith Cohen, Sheila Cole and André Cicolella. Simultaneous translation was provided. The conference was endorsed by the David Suzuki foundation, The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, BREAST CANCER Action Montreal, The Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, the Environmental Health Association of Ontario, RIOCM, La Maison du 21e siècle, the Green Coalition.

May 28, 2011, was ‘Environmental Sensitivities Awareness, Education and Action Day’. On this day, a conference was held at CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY, entitled: ‘Toxic Trespass: Effects on Human Health’. The main speaker was Dr John Molot MD, CCFP, FCFP. The conference was chaired by Barry Breger, MD. Following the conference, we held our first March, which started at Concordia University and ended at Premier Jean Charest’s office on 2001, Avenue McGill College. The march was organized to draw attention to ES, and request recognition, support and other essential services for people suffering from the condition. Press releases were sent out for ES Day in Québec and for the conferences.

A petition addressed to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux was read by Mr. Pierre Marsan, MNA for Robert-Baldwin, on September 22, 2011 at the National Assembly of Québec. ASEQ-EHAQ members were in attendance during this reading. The petition requested that May 12 be recognized as ES Day in Québec and that the month of May be recognized as the month for awareness and education on ES in Québec.

On September 22, 2011, ASEQ-EHAQ held a booth at the National Assembly of Québec to create awareness and to educate the Members of the National Assembly on ES. The Minister of Health, Mr. Yves Bolduc, visited the booth and posed for pictures with EHAQ members who were present.

On October 20 2011, ASEQ-EHAQ organized a conference at the Centre St-Pierre entitled ‘Healthy Home Conference’, on the topics of electromagnetic fields and mould prevention. Speakers were Mr. Claude Mainville and Mr. Stéphane Bélainsky.

On November 28, 2011, ASEQ-EHAQ presented to the Board of Administrators of the Centre de Santé et des Services sociaux (CSSS), West Island, to have a clinic to treat people who suffer from ES and related conditions in Montréal’s West Island. Speakers were Michel Gaudet, Meg Sears Ph.D, and Barry Breger MD. EHAQ is waiting for a response from the Board on this subject.

ASEQ-EHAQ applied to the Programme de soutien aux organismes communautaires (PSOC) (Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal) to qualify for core funding. This request was refused. ASEQ-EHAQ appealed this decision and lost. The file was sent to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. ASEQ-EHAQ’s request to qualify for core funding as a national health group was accepted.

A request for funding was made to the Minister of Heath to receive funding from the Minister’s discretionary fund.

2012 ASEQ-EHAQ continued working with UQÀM and TELUQ on the project entitled ‘Environmental Sensitivities: how to manage this condition? Training on the biological and legal aspects’ for creating awareness and education on the biological, medical and legal aspects of Environmental Sensitivities.

Various events related to the project were held on the following dates:

· February 10, 2012 – Meeting of the Expert Committee in Montréal.

· May 26, 2012 – a six-hour pilot project workshop was held with eleven participants in Montréal.

· September 29 and 30 and October 13 and 14, 2012–Around twenty people were trained to give workshops in two training sessions, each consisting of two-day training workshops in Montréal.

· October 27, 2012–Workshop in Gatineau (Outaouais)

· November 23 and 24, 2012–Two workshops in Saint Sauveur, covering the regions of Lanaudière and Laurentides.

· December 7 and 8, 2012–Two workshops in Magog, covering the regions of Estrie and Montérégie.

The remaining workshops will be held in Montreal, Québec City, Chaudière-Appalaches, Saguenay Lac St Jean and Bas St-Laurent from January to May 2013. A two-day training workshop for 10 people in the city of Québec will be organized for March 16 and 17, 2013.

Housing Project: The owner of the land subdivided his land into lots which include 25 acres, donated to ASEQ-EHAQ. He also made a biological survey of his property. In April 2012, a formal request for funding for the housing project was submitted to the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ). Seed funding was received from the CANADA MORTGAGE and Housing Corporation to help with project development.

A series of messages were released in May 2012, for awareness and education of ES. They can be found on our website on this page.

Fundraising–The group will actively raise funds this year from foundations and other sources.

ASEQ-EHAQ will continue and expand as a support group to address issues commonly encountered by people suffering from ES and to create a network of mutual support for the challenges related to this condition.

ASEQ-EHAQ continues its work to increase its membership and achieve recognition, with the aim of having ES recognized as a disabling medical condition, so that sufferers can have easy access to appropriate health and social services, affordable healthy housing and other suitable services to ensure that s are cared for and are helped to alleviate social isolation and exclusion.

The above-mentioned activities have allowed us to reach 375,000 people from the general public and 750 people directly through our projects every year since 2010.

Projected activities in 2013

The support services as mentioned above will continue in 2013. In addition, the following projects will be continued or started:

· Project ‘Environmental Sensitivities: how to manage this condition? Training on the biological and legal aspects’.

· Housing project

· Fundraising–The group will actively raise funds this year from Foundations and other sources.

· A special newsletter to be released in May, for awareness and education of Environmental Sensitivities.

· Development of the Eco Resource Guide.

· Continue and expand a support group to address issues commonly encountered by people suffering from Environmental Sensitivities and to create a network of mutual support for all the challenges faced.

· A Report titled ‘Socio-Economic Impact of Environmental Sensitivities in Canada, with a focus on Quebec’.

· To hold a conference on Environmental Sensitivities and related issues.

· That EHAQ continues its work so that the group increases in number and achieves recognition–with the aim of having Environmental Sensitivities recognized as a disabling medical condition, so that sufferers have easy access to appropriate health and social services, affordable healthy housing and other suitable services to ensure that s are cared for and are helped to alleviate social isolation and exclusion.

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The Mission of the Environmental Health Association of Québec (EHAQ) is:

  • To provide and operate low–rental residential accommodation and incidental facilities exclusively for persons of all ages, of low and modest or low and moderate income and who are disabled from Environmental Sensitivities and persons with similar overlapping conditions and special housing needs.
  • To do research to aid and improve the ecological building model so that it can be reproduced and made an example of how to build and live in order to minimise our ecological imprint.
  • The protection of the environment and human health directed towards the individual and the collective by creating awareness, support and education of the population on the protection of the environment from toxic products and pesticides.
  • To promote ecological solutions and least toxic strategies to preserve our environment for future generations.
  • Educate the population on environmental sensitivities and ways to minimize exposures to known and suspected toxic substances (toxic products, pesticides, etc) and to promote least toxic strategies to help prevent environmental sensitivities.
  • Support of people who have environmental sensitivities (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Electro Magnetic Sensitivity (EMS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and Fibromyalgia (FM)) by providing information and services to help improve quality of life.
  • Collaborate in Research and Knowledge Translation addressing links between environmental exposures and health; Research in all aspects of environmental health and environmental sensitivities including underlying mechanisms; diagnostic and treatment methods for environmental sensitivities; and impacts of toxics use reduction.
  • To receive donations, bequeath through a will and other contributions of the same nature in money, in fixed and non-fixed assets; to administer such donations, bequeaths and contributions; and to organize fundraising campaigns with the aim of collecting FUNDS for charitable needs.