Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Miriam Alfie Cohen, Jose Juan Gonzalez Marquez, Albert Mumma and Susan Smith
Chapter 5: The Quest for Environmental Justice on a Canadian Aboriginal Reserve
Sidra Sabzwari and Dayna Nadine Scott 5.1 INTRODUCTION Indigenous peoples worldwide suffer from environmental injustice. Although Canada prides itself on its environmental record, health care and social programs, there are indigenous groups, or First Nations, Metis and Inuit Aboriginal peoples, within Canada who do not have basic access to safe and healthy environments. Many First Nations in Canada have a unique temporal and spatial connection to the land, whereby they have inhabited or hunted through traditional land areas for several generations spanning hundreds of years. Since cultural identity is associated with specific land areas and practices, migration is minimal between lands and over time. As a result, although every Canadian is affected by chemical pollutants in our environment, First Nations in Canada experience a disproportionate burden of the harm from localized and cumulative environmental toxins. The prevailing regulatory schemes for air pollution in place across the country fail to address these particular impacts that chronic pollution has upon aboriginal communities (see for example Scott, 2008). In this chapter, we take the Aamjiwnaang First Nation as a case study in how a community experiencing chronic contamination and environmental injustice can take direct action to mobilize and catalyze changes in government environmental policy. Section 5.2 of this chapter gives the background of the environmental justice movement, chronic pollution, and the rise of popular epidemiology. Section 5.3 provides some historical context for the Aamjiwnnang First Nation’s chronic contamination and the acts of resistance they have employed. Section 5.4 examines exciting new methods of...
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