November 24, 2017
In recent years, racism has been pushed to the forefront of environmental conversations in Nova Scotia. Organizations like the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health (ENRICH) Project and the Peace and Friendship Alliance of Nova Scotia, along with committed community groups and activists working throughout the region, are demonstrating that Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities in this province suffer disproportionately from environmental harms. In April 2015, NDP MLA Lenore Zann tabled Bill 111, An Act to Address Environmental Racism, in the Nova Scotia legislature. In April 2017, the Nova Scotia Environmental Rights Working Group (NSERWG) launched a draft Environmental Bill of Rights that explicitly recognizes and seeks to redress the disproportionate harms suffered by Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities. This October, an event organized by KAIROS Canada put a spotlight on Indigenous attempts to protect local watersheds and asked what reconciliation can and should look like in the context of environmental activism.
These are just some of the many examples that point to a groundswell of public attention to environmental racism in Nova Scotia. ECELAW is proud to have been involved in a number of these initiatives, and we know that our relationships with ENRICH and the NSERWG have been mutually beneficial. The legal expertise that we bring to the table is enhanced by the expertise of the affected communities that share their experiences and insights with us, and we know that together we are building critical legal analyses that can respond to lived realities in Nova Scotia today.