A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to be invited to visit elder Alan Knockwood’s house in Sipeknekatik . Alan Knockwood is an Elder and A Pipe carrier. He is also active as a Human Rights consultant and Historian.
It was a glorious, welcoming place with open doors for pets and kids and family to come and go, which explains some of the background noise you will hear. In fact, Alan’s brother Wallace Nevin just happened to drop by, who just happens to be something of an historian too, and he was generous enough with his time to sit down at the kitchen table and join us. We had a long and free flowing conversation all afternoon. So what I have tried to do for the purposes of our show is piece together some of the highlights of our conversation to give you a sense of perspective about what Alan and Wallace feel is happening in Sipeknekatik, including the imposition of the proposed Alton Gas storage project and how that relates to the struggle to even conceive of a concept of environmental justice.
Tayla Paul and Dylan Letendre are two participants in a project exploring urban Aboriginal identity called “This is What I Wish you Knew.” Fifty community members carved and painted their personal stories onto rectangular clay tiles that are now displayed at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax, working to build on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The project was one of six projects across Canada approved through the Canada Council for the Arts (RE) conciliation Initiative which receives funding from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.
Please listen to the conversation but if you can, please make the effort to get yourself to the Friendship Centre on Gottingen Street in Halifax, and spend some time with these beautiful and important tiles.
Photo courtesy of Dylan Letendre
Describing himself as a father, birdwatcher, and cycle commuter, Randolph Haluza-Delay spent 15 years as a wilderness guide. As a sociology professor at The King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) for the past twelve years, he has published over 40 academic journal articles and book chapters, and occasional items for magazines and newspapers. This includes two co-edited books: Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada (The University of British Columbia Press, 2009), and the recently released How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change: Social Science Investigations (Routledge, 2014). His PhD is in Education from the University of Western Ontario. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Master’s in Recreation. As a social scientist, his research focuses on social movements, religion and the environment, environmental education, and the cultural politics of sustainability. As a citizen, he is active in peace and anti-racism initiatives, and interfaith dialogue.
Wanda Thomas Bernard has been a professor at the Dalhousie School of Social Work since 1990, where she held the position of Director from 2001- 2011. She teaches in the area of anti-oppression at the graduate level and cultural diversity in the undergraduate program. She also teaches an elective course entitled Africentric Perspectives in Social Work, the only one of its kind. Besides this, she finds time to Chair the Health and Wellness Ministry at the East Preston United Baptist Church, through which she has been involved in a Mobile Food Market pilot project.
Dr. Bernard has received numerous awards and honours, most notably, her appointment to the Order of Canada in 2005 for her work on racism. Wanda is a founding member, and past president of the Association of Black Social Workers. She is the first African Nova Scotian to hold a tenure track position at Dalhousie University and to be promoted to Full Professor. She is a community-engaged scholar who actively links her research, teaching, practice and community activism.
This week I’m really excited to have had the chance to speak with the members of the North End Community Action Committee. These six young adults from Halifax’s North End have joined together to try and help ensure that the concerns of their North End community are adequately heard and addressed by municipal planning processes, including the Centre plan. The Centre Plan is an effort to update the municipal planning strategies for communities within Halifax’s Regional Centre, which includes Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway and Peninsular Halifax. These strategies are broad planning documents that establish policies concerning land development- and its effects, – as well as policies to provide a framework for environmental, social and economic development.
James Desmond lives in the small African Nova Scotian Community of Lincolnville and is a founding member of the Lincollnville Reserve Land Voice Council. James has been fighting on behalf of his community for over forty years, ever since an unlined and unwanted dump was sited there without community consent back in the early 1970s.
In 2006 a 2nd landfill was added and the community’s concerns are still being ignored.
Aaron Ward holds a law degree from Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, sits on the board of the Ecology Action Centre, and also sat on the board of directors of the East Coast Environmental Law Association until 2015, after which he took on a staff role.
The East Coast Environmental Law Association, or ECELAW, is Atlantic Canada’s only environmental law charity, established in 2007 as a non-profit organization. ECELAW responds to community inquiries, carries out legal and policy research and presents educational resources and opportunities to increase public awareness of environmental laws in Atlantic Canada. Aaron has been working with ECELAW on many things, but most relevant to this interview, including an environmental bill of rights.
Dr. Ingrid Waldron holds a PhD from the Sociology & Equity Studies in Education Department at the University of Toronto, a MA in Intercultural Education: Race, Ethnicity and Culture from the University of London (England) and a BA in Psychology from McGill University. Her scholarship focuses specifically on the impact of inequality and discrimination on the health and mental health of African Nova Scotian, African Canadian, Mi’kmaw, immigrant and refugee communities in Canada. Dr. Waldron’s recent research projects focus on the health effects of environmental racism in African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw communities and the social determinants of health in African Nova Scotian and immigrant communities in Halifax.
Dr. Waldron is the director of the ENRICH project (which stands for Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health) and an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at Dal. She was recently named the Advocate of the Year at the Better Politics Awards for her work fighting environmental racism in Nova Scotia.