Chemical Valley in Sarnia, Ontario. Photography by Peter Kovacs
Environmental racism refers to the disproportionate exposure to pollution experienced by communities of color, First Nations and poor communities, and the subsequent negative health effects, as well as the unequal environmental protection provided through laws, regulations, governmental programs, enforcement, and policies.
In Canada, there are far too many cases of highly polluting mines, dumps, oil and gas wells, pipelines, refineries and chemical plants being in or near First Nations and Afro-descendent communities and communities of color despite the opposition of these communities and contaminating their air, water, and soil as well as exposing them to greater impacts of climate change. Members then face serious and complex health problems due to the pollution with little or no accountability on the part of corporations or governments that should have protected their health and wellbeing in the first place.
To understand more about environmental racism, we suggest There’s Something In The Water, written by Dr. Ingrid Waldron. It has been made into a documentary of the same title, currently available on Netflix.
Bill C-230: An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism
A private member’s bill, Bill C-230, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism, has passed second reading and is now before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for study. It would require the federal government to develop a national strategy to counter environmental racism by collecting information and data on race, socio-economic status and hazards, identifying the location of environmental hazards and develop measures to redress these situations.
Breast Cancer Action Quebec submitted a brief to the committee strongly supporting the rapid adoption of Bill C-230 which you can read here.
The House of Commons environment committee recently completed its review of the Bill. This marked a critical first step toward Canada acknowledging its shameful legacy of environmental racism and ensuring that all people in Canada benefit from environmental protection policies. Read our press release
For more on Bill C-230:
National Anti-Environmental Racism Coalition
An important new coalition, the National Anti-Environmental Racism Coalition, led by Dr. Ingrid Waldron at Dalhousie University has been created to support the fight against environmental racism. Over sixty organizations across Canada, including BCAQ, have become members.