There's a burgeoning climate justice movement in Canada and around the world. That movement demonstrates quite clearly that environmental racism and the placement of polluting industries in certain communities is inextricably linked to climate change in several ways.
The kinds of emissions that come out of polluting industries actually have implications for climate change. The same communities that are disproportionately impacted by environmental racism are the same communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change. The long-standing structural inequities that Black and indigenous peoples in this country experience—separate from climate change and environmental racism—actually put them at risk. People don't often talk about what exactly puts people at risk. It's not just geography. It's not just where indigenous people live. It's about the structural inequities, whether it be poor housing, neighbourhoods with poor-quality public infrastructure, food insecurity, housing insecurity, income insecurity or under-education. Those are the structural inequities that put communities at risk for climate change, as well as for the placement of polluting industries in their communities.
When we talk about the after-effects, because of the long-standing structural inequities they've faced, these communities find it much harder to fight back against climate change, to come back from climate change and to address climate change because, as Lenore mentioned earlier, those are the communities that have less clout. They have less political, economic and social clout. They don't have the networks. They don't have this thing we call social capital that allows them to come back from climate change quickly.
Part of the definition of environmental racism is not simply the location of polluting industries in those communities. There's a five-part definition of environmental racism. Lenore talked about the disproportionate location, but it's also about the lack of political power these communities have for resisting the placement of industrial polluters in their communities. It's about the implementation of policies that sanction the harmful, and in many cases life-threatening, poisons in these communities. It's about the disproportionate negative impacts of environmental policies that result in differential rates of clean up.
It's also about the history in Canada of excluding indigenous and racialized communities from mainstream or environmental groups, boards, commissions, regulatory bodies and decision-making bodies. Essentially, this is about systemic racism. It's about the issues and the structural inequities independent of climate change and environmental racism that put these communities at risk in the first place.
At the back end, it's about the fact that the lack of clout makes it much more difficult for them to come back and address it. These are issues that are inextricably linked. In Canada, I think people are starting to see those links.
We then talk about the identities, race, gender and the fact that women around the world bear the brunt of climate change impacts, particularly in developing countries.
We also need to think of policy. We need to look at those intersections of race, class, socio-economic status and gender. In Nova Scotia, I've noticed that it's the indigenous women who seem to be on the front lines. They are the ones doing much of the work in terms of addressing it because it's part of their culture and of their tradition.