Zann Takes on Environmental Racism
Lenore Zann, the Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester, introduced a first-of-its-kind bill in the House of Commons yesterday that addresses environmental racism.
The Private Member’s Bill is called the National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism Act.
It marks the second time Zann has introduced the topic. The first was as a member of the Nova Scotia Legislature in 2014 when she was an MLA. It was considered the first legislation of its kind in North America.
Then a member of the NDP opposition, the bill did not find favour with the sitting Liberal government of Stephen McNeil.
However, her effort drew attention to the issue and the term “Environmental Racism” is now widely understood to identify environmentally hazardous sites established near indigenous or other racialized communities.
Zann was responding to numerous Nova Scotia sites that include dumps, landfills, toxic waste sites, and sewage outfalls in places like Africville, Boat Harbour, and a garbage dump in Shelburne which may have affected the water supply for a nearby African Nova Scotian community.
Environmental Racism is now the subject of a 2019 documentary directed by Nova Scotian actor Ellen Page, based on the book, “There is something in the Water” by Dr. Ingrid Waldron of Dalhousie University. The documentary is expected on Netflix in March.
Zann’s new, national bill calls the Government to develop a coordinated and collaborative national strategy in consultation with provincial, municipal, indigenous governments and affected communities to redress the harm caused by environmental racism.
The bill was seconded in the House of Commons by Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party and received interest and support from members across the House of Commons.
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