Special Issue on Environmental Justice
Over thirty years has passed since community activists gathered together and fought back against toxic dumping in their town of Afton in Warren County, North Carolina. The decades-long resistance that took place in Warren County marked the founding of the environmental justice movement in the United States, a movement that, to this day, is predominantly led by women of colour. The framework of environmental justice has since been adopted and adapted in activist and academic circles around the world. However, though environmental justice is a relatively new term, the idea is centuries old. As Agyeman et al. point out, Indigenous peoples on the land now called Canada have long been “articulating environmental injustices in relation to loss of land, Aboriginal title, and devastation of their traditional territories and the life forms they support” (7). This issue of UnderCurrents therefore encourages broad and inclusive interpretations of environmental justice as a tool for expressing intersections and alliances between social and environmental movements.
The need for more discourse on environmental justice in Canada could not be more evident. In Toronto, we are seeing how environmental racism is unfolding with the development of Line 9 and how it disproportionately impacts Jane and Finch, a working-class racialized neighbourhood. This local manifestation of environmental injustice is linked by complex networks of pipelines and politics, networks that are expanding rapidly (think Northern Gateway, Keystone XL, and Energy East) to keep pace with industry in the tar sands. In Federal politics, the neoliberal Harper government is leading the nation without debate into a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China, investing heavily in the prison industrial complex and armed forces, and enacting sweeping omnibus bills that blatantly undermine environmental law, deregulate Canada’s waterways, and reduce protection for species at risk. Meanwhile on the international level, Canadian mining and oil companies practice predatory environmental injustice throughout the global South.
Yet communities are not idle in the face of these and other injustices. From localized actions to mass movements, from Line 9 walking tours to Idle No More, and from anti-pipeline demonstrations to the Elsipogtog Nation’s iconic anti-fracking protests, activists in Canada and abroad are challenging the inequitable distribution of environmental impacts and amenities, and the integrated effects on our bodies, health, and lands. This issue of UnderCurrents responds to these and other movements, asking the following critical questions: What are the connections across and between environmental and social movements? How have the commitments of these movements changed over time, and who has been affected by these shifts? What bonds have been broken and what new ones have formed? Whose voices are heard, and whose voices are silenced? In a world facing continued environmental and political crisis, how can we learn to build alliances and live together for today and tomorrow?
UnderCurrents welcomes both creative and scholarly work, including essays, poetry, photographs, visual submissions, video, audio, mixed formats, and more. Submissions could contribute to, but are not limited by, the following considered in relation to environmental justice:
- Alliance building
- Animal studies
- Arts, activism and the environment
- Child poverty, health, and the environment
- Community responses to environmental disaster and state violence
- Critical race and critical disability studies and activism
- Critical urban planning
- Decolonization and resistance
- Educating for environmental and social justice
- Environmental health
- Environmental racism
- Gender and the environment
- Indigenous sovereignty
- Migrant justice
- Mining justice and resource extraction
- Neoliberal globalization
- Prison-industrial complex in Canada
- Reproductive justice
*See the following three sources for excellent introductions to Canadian environmental justice.
Agyeman, Julian, Peter Cole, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, Pat O’Riley, eds. Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada. Vancouver: U British Columbia P, 2009. Print.
Gosine, Andil, and Cheryl Teelucksingh. Environmental Justice and Racism in Canada: An Introduction. Toronto: Edmund Montgomery P, 2008. Print.
Selby, David, and Tara Goldstein. Weaving Connections: Educating for Peace, Social and Environmental Justice. Toronto: Sumach P, 2000. Print.
**Submissions are due Jan. 30th 2015. For guidelines please visit: http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/currents/about/submissions#onlineSubmissions
*** If you are unsure about whether or not your work fits within the framework of environmental justice, or if you are looking to join the UnderCurrents collective to gain valuable editorial experience, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.