Environmental racism is when policies or actions disproportionately impact racialized or indigenous communities. Elizabeth May of the Canadian Green Party used this term to describe the illegal dumping of toxic waste on Indigenous Mohawk territory in Quebec. At the heart of the issue is a waste disposal site close to Kanehstatà:ke. The site is near Montreal, and it is a threat to the community, and many speculate that this would not have happened if the territory had not belonged to a racialized minority. The issue has garnered support from several NGOs, including Amnesty International, and many are calling on the Canadian government for swift action.

May addressed the issue by stating in parliament;

“At its core, it is about environmental racism. It is about the illegal dumping of toxic waste on Mohawk territory.

Elizabeth May is currently endorsing Bill C-226, a bill that, if passed, would help combat environmental racism and will advance environmental justice. The bill has had its first reading, and it is unclear if it will pass at this stage. However, May asserts that Canada is sorely in need of this type of regulation. Similar events have not been uncommon in Canada; the well-known “Chemical Valley” near Sarnia, Ontario, is infamous for its pollution from Canada’s chemical industry. Canada also has oil pipelines being constructed on indigenous lands, which the environmental consequences most impact racialized and indigenous populations. Past attempts to regulate pollution have not been successful, and it remains to be seen if the newest bill will pass.

Danna Houssian

Danna graduated with an M.A from Simon Fraser University and a B.A from the University of Victoria. She is highly interested in international relations and defense.

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