Keynote Earth Week talk addressed struggles for environmental justice in Indigenous and Black communities


Every year Earth Week features a series of amazing speakers, do-it-yourself workshops, tours, gardening and 2021 is no exception. While Earth Week certainly did not look like years past due to COVID-19, the organizers were able to take advantage of our current online reality by virtually bringing in Keynote Speaker Dr. Ingrid R G Waldron of Dalhousie University, executive director of the ENRICH Project, and Team Co-Lead of the Improving the Health of People of African Descent at the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie.

Dr. Waldron is the author of There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Black and Indigenous Communities, as well as the co-producer of the Netflix Documentary There’s Something in the Water, narrated and co-produced by Elliot Page. Montreal-born Dr. Waldron is a Dawson College graduate (Class of 1983, Social Science).

Students from Dawson’s Journeys Program and from the Science Program attended the talk along with faculty and staff from Dawson College and colleagues from across the English-language CECEGP network enabling a broad cross section of our community to learn from our esteemed speaker.

Dr. Waldron’s April 22 talk, Women on the Frontlines: Grassroots Struggles for Environmental Justice in Indigenous and Black Communities, provided the theoretical grounding of environmental racism, while critically connecting this to climate change and the impacts to the health and lands of Black and Indigenous communities in Canada.

Ways of mobilization

She elaborated the ways that Black and Indigenous women have organized their communities to fight against federal and provincial governments and corporations to protect their people and lands. She also discussed the environmental justice movement in Canada that has long ignored the intersections of race and gender, which has exacerbated the structural inequities faced by Black and Indigenous communities.

Critically, Dr. Waldron described the activist frontline work she has engaged in such as her work as the executive director of the ENRICH project , which uses community-based research, creates multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral partnerships to mobilize and leverage capacity building to address environmental racism and its health effects in Black, Indigenous and other marginalized communities across Canada. The ENRICH project also engages with students encouraging student research, mentorship, and internship possibilities. Dr. Waldron underscored that community, evidence-based scholarship, and frontline fieldwork are all essential to successful projects that address environmental racism. Academics and activism walk in lockstep and are the key to success.

Get actively involved

Dr. Waldron completed the talk by highlighting the various organizations she has gotten involved in that combat environmental racism and importantly legislation that is before the House of Commons.  C-230 is a private member’s bill entitled An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism. It was an excellent conclusion to her talk as it highlighted the diverse ways people can get actively involved in environmental justice and climate change mobilization through supporting grassroots organizations, community-based research as well as federal and provincial legislation.

If you missed Dr. Waldron’s talk please click here to view. Interested in getting involved in climate change action or environmental justice? You can join Dawson’s Student Green Earth Club, contact your Member of Parliament to advocate for C-230, reach out to the Office of Sustainability at Dawson College or research the various grassroots organizations around the country always looking for volunteers, donations, and support!

Article by Diana Rice of the Peace Centre and the Office of Academic Development.

Last Modified: May 4, 2021