Black History and Climate Action

Have you heard of these Black Women who have been protecting our world and advocating for environmental action?

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist and policy expert. She is the founder of Urban Ocean Lab (think tank on the future of coastal cities), co-founder of The All We Can Save Project (an initiative to support feminist climate leaders), co-host of How to Save a Planet (podcast on climate solutions) and founder of Ocean Collectiv (consulting firm for conservation solutions). What an incredible amount of climate solutions! But it doesn't stop there, she has also authored 2 books!Also the co-founder of Blue Halo Initiative, she led the Caribbean's first successful island-wide ocean zoning effort: protection of 1/3 of Barbuda's coastal waters., Dr. Johnson co-created the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy.

Have you heard of GreenGirlLeah? Find her on FB, Insta or her website. Understanding that communities of colour are most exposed to poor air quality and environmental conditions (black residents have a 1.54x higher burden than the overall population), she focuses on environmentalism and anti-racism and has a strong youth following on social media.

"Intersectional environmentalism is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected."

Wangari Maathai 
I learned about Wangari Maathai - renowned Kenyan Environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner - when I was in university and she was featured in an exhibit about the Earth Charter International movement. She founded the Greenbelt Movement to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women (see link posted in comments!)Now, as a parent, I cannot think of a better person to emulate for my children in these uncertain times.Watch this short animated video of Wangari Maathai to be inspired yourself or together with your children. She died in 2011 but her spirit to never give up is more important than ever.Words to live by: "I will be a hummingbird" and "I will do the best that I can"

Dr. Ingrid Waldron

"Everyone wants to talk about environmental justice, nobody wants to talk about the racism part of it." Dr. Ingrid Waldron

We have been highlighting some amazing Black environmentalists this month. For our last #BlackHistoryMonth post, we would be remiss to not directly speak to environmental racism in Canada.

Hogan's Alley (BC), Leamington (ON) and Shelburne (NS) are only a few examples of Black communities facing environmental racism here in Canada. A UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent recommended that “Government of Canada should encourage federal, provincial and municipal governments to seriously consider the concerns of African Nova Scotians and help to develop legislation on environmental issues affecting them.”

Dr. Ingrid Waldron is an Associate Professor in Faculty of Health at Dalhousie and is the Director of Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project). She authored "There's Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities." The book examines environmental racism in Nova Scotia, focusing on Black and First Nations communities. The book was made into a documentary in 2019, which you can find on Netflix. thank Dr. Waldron for bringing this important topic front and centre, and to a global stage.

Combating Environmental Racism in Canada:Over the next few weeks we will also be talking about Bill C-230, A national strategy to redress environmental racism in Canada.  This is up for a vote in March. It was introduced by Nova Scotia MP Lenore Zann.  A Canadian first, it would require the environment minister to develop a national strategy to redress environmental racism. All parties should support its passage.Zann was inspired to draft the bill after encountering Ingrid Waldron’s research into the causes and effects of toxic industries near Mi’kmaq and Black Nova Scotian communities.