There’s no environmental justice without racial justice

Our message in solidarity for racial justice

June 9, 2020

Many of us took a stand the past few weeks and marched in protest of police violence and brutality, demanding justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, calling for change to the systems that historically have and continue to enable racial injustice. Communities beyond the ones under attack must also stand up and speak out. We must do everything in our collective power to disrupt the system that perpetuates oppression.  

Environmental Defence stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, our Black supporters, and all Black leaders and individuals in the Movement for Black Liberation. We recognize Canada’s long history of systematic oppression of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). 

As environmental and public health advocates who work to address the climate and ecological crises, we know that real and meaningful progress on environmental issues cannot be made without addressing systemic racism. In Canada and around the world, communities of colour are experiencing the hardest impacts of environmental injustice. 

BIPOC communities are forced to live and work in toxic environments surrounded by harmful chemicals due to the lack of strong environmental regulations in Canada. These same communities experience disproportionate health risks caused by fossil fuel extraction, are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and many Indigenous communities do not have access to safe drinking water.

We must hold ourselves accountable for the change we want to see in the world. The mainstream environmental movement lacks a diversity of perspectives and fails to be a strong ally for Black and Indigenous people. As an organization, we are reflecting on our shortcomings and committing to addressing the racism and biases within ourselves and being a better partner and ally in the fight for social, racial, and systemic justice. 

We are reflecting on how we can do better as a leading environmental charity and are developing an actionable plan that we can hold ourselves to account for. To start, we are creating a committee that will look at the equitable treatment and elimination of discrimination in all forms and at all organization levels including our human resources, fundraising, partnerships and programming, public communications and engagement practices.

We are taking this time to listen, learn, and grow so that we can become better allies to BIPOC communities across Canada so that we can work to amplify these unheard and important voices. 

We make this promise, but this is just the beginning. We have a lot more work to do. 

There are many ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement and fight against systemic injustice. Here are some resources that we encourage you to explore and share with family, friends and your communities:  

Also for donation options in Canada, please see: 

Yours in solidarity,

Tim Gray, Executive Director