Racism, traditional food access, and industrial development across Ontario: Perspectives from the fields of environmental law and environmental studies
Keywords:environmental racism, traditional foods, food sovereignty, Indigenous rights, food security, reconciliation
Racism and industrial development across lands and waters in the province of Ontario have played a significant role in decreased access to traditional food for Indigenous peoples. Traditional food access is important for health reasons, as well as cultural and spiritual wellness, and its loss has dire consequences for both people and the environment. In this commentary, we bring together our practices and experiences as settler Canadians in the fields of environmental law and environmental studies to share three short case studies exploring the linkages among traditional food access, racism, and industrial development. Specifically, we discuss how the aerial spraying of forests, mining exploration, and contaminants in fish are impacting traditional food access, and analyze how industry and monetary gains are drivers in these scenarios. For each of these case studies, we provide examples of research and advocacy from our respective fields carried out with Indigenous communities. We conclude by offering our insights for addressing systemic racism in food systems, focusing on a need for policy to prioritize Indigenous sovereignty and rights and opportunities for collaboration spanning different areas of practice and Western and Indigenous knowledge systems.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Kristen Lowitt, Jane Cooper, Kerrie Blaise
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