Apr 29th, 2015 - Zann introduces bill to address environmental racism

NDP MLA Lenore Zann introduced a bill today in the Legislature to address the concerns of communities about environmental racism.
The bill calls for a panel to be struck consisting of members of the provincial Human Rights Commission and members of the Minister of Environment's Roundtable on Environment and Sustainable Prosperity. The panel must also consist of one member from the African Nova Scotian community, the First Nations community and the Acadian community.

The panel would have one year from the date the bill is proclaimed to engage in a province wide consultation and draft a report and recommendations to be tabled in the Legislature.

"It's an issue that government needs to address and the most appropriate way to accomplish that is to consult with Nova Scotians, hear first-hand their experiences, and then develop recommendations to ensure future decisions are made with the best interest of communities at heart," says Zann.

Lynn Jones of Truro, who is a member the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health (ENRICH) project, says the bill will help foster improved relationships between government and historically marginalized community members. Jones says, "This bill is important because of its focus on consultations with Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities and other marginalized communities. Consultations represent an important first step in addressing the concerns of affected community members because it allows them to communicate their experiences, concerns and priorities from their own perspectives."

Dr. Ingrid Waldron, an Assistant Professor at the Dalhousie School of Nursing, who has studied the issues of environmental racism extensively also supports the NDP bill.

"I believe it is a tangible first step in addressing some of the long-standing concerns that Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities have about the proximity of their communities to industries that produce toxic waste and other environmental hazards," says Waldron.