Canada’s Environmental Racism (Podcast & Video)
Imagine that the community you call home is surrounded by chemical plants and oil refineries. Your friends and family breath polluted air and their heath problems like Asama and Cancer are all to common.
You wake up to the sound of sirens from a near by chemical plant warning of a fire and you receive a text message about a toxic spill down the street.
The people that live closest to this ecological nightmare are the people of Aamjiwnaang First Nation. How close? Literally there back yards.
For the last fifty years their land has become completely surrounded by Canada’s largest concentration of petrochemical manufacturing companies.
Forty percent of Canada’s petrochemical industry is packed into a 15-square-mile area in Sarnia, Ontario, called the Chemical Valley. More than 60 chemical plants and oil refineries operate there 24/7.
So what is environmental racism anyways? If you are a minority in North America you are more likely to breath polluted air, same goes if you are white and poor.
Aamjiwnaang First Nation is located along the shore of the Saint Clair River between the town of Bluewater and Sarnia, Ontario bordering the United States.
There you will find skyrocketing Asama, Cancer, extremely low life expectancy and many disproportionate health problems.
In 2005 Matt Crenson of the Associated Press wrote an article called “Natives see son shortage in Chemical Valley” which told the story of how three girls are being born in the community for every male child.
A number that is skewed dramatically.
In the article Crenson says that “…certain pollutants, including many found on the Aamjiwnaang reserve, could interfere with the sex ratio of newborns in a population.
Heavy metals have been shown to affect sex ratio by causing the miscarriage of male fetuses. Other pollutants known as endocrine disrupters — including dioxin and PCBs — can wreak all sorts of havoc by interfering with the hormones that determine whether a couple will have a boy or a girl”.
Unfortunately Environment Canada has done little to no investigative work and other than a few fringe news stories on Vice news and scholarly papers this story remains in the periphery even though it’s right next door.
Many of the residence of the community have equated this to environmental racism.
It’s great to help people overseas and around the world with social and environmental issues but we needn’t look far to find conditions in our own back yard that revel many third world countries and we need to change that .
We are killing the land and the stewards who have watched over it since time immemorial. Let’s change that and look to more responsible methods of “progress” keeping in harmony with nature and her first peoples.
I’ve been fortunate to meet a great many people through my activism over the last 10 years or so but none compare to the concerned citizens of Aamjiwnaang First Nation.
I recent interviewed Lindsay Gray from Aamjiwnaang First Nation about what life is like growing up among the toxic environment.
Check out my podcast link below on this story: