Environmental racism is the term for policies, practices, institutions, decisions, and laws that discriminate against communities where the majority of residents are Black, Indigenous, and people of colour by harming the air, land, water, biodiversity — or people’s ability to connect with and steward these. In other words, Indigenous and racialized communities are more likely to have exposure to contamination and pollution from industry and are not in positions of power to resist the placement of these polluting industries in their communities.
Environmental racism happens worldwide. The experiences of Africville, Grassy Narrows First Nation, Boat Harbour, and Aamjiwnaang First Nation are only a few of many cases of environmental racism in Canada. This year, environmental racism has left these communities and others facing poor health outcomes from pollution and contamination more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s resources connect experiences of environmental racism in both Canada and the Global South.
Read #ICantBreathe and Environmental Racism in Ecuador written by Nathalia Bonilla from Acción Ecológica
A long-term partner organization of KAIROS, Acción Ecológica is a self-described ecofeminist organization that is a leader on climate justice, working with and alongside Indigenous, women, and rural and urban communities towards a more liveable world for all. Acción Ecológica is one of the most well-known and respected climate justice organizations in Latin America and its reputation and collaborative reach is global in scale. Acción Ecológica and the Latin American Network of Women Defenders of Social and Environmental Rights, which it coordinates, are KAIROS partners on the gendered impacts of resource extraction.
Watch There’s Something in the Water (available on Netflix), a documentary about women land defenders and water protectors facing environmental racism in their communities in Canada.
Our action today is to contact your MP to support Bill C-230, an Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism. The National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism Act was tabled by Lenore Zann, MP for Cumberland-Colchester and is scheduled to move to second reading when Parliament resumes in the fall.
Find your MP and ask them to:
- Support Bill C-230: National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism Act
- Modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to recognize everybody’s right to a healthy environment and defend people in vulnerable situations.