This commitment emerged from a process of deep discussion and reflection between BIMPOC and white folks on the Climate Hub team that was led by our BIMPOC colleagues.
The UBC Climate Hub stands in solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities, who are fighting for justice, accountability, and an end to racial violence and police brutality. We write these words with great conviction – We believe that Black Lives Matter. We believe in Indigenous Sovereignty. We believe that there is no climate justice without racial justice.
Since student leaders advocated for our creation two years ago, our unique student-led Hub has worked to connect and empower students, faculty, staff, and community partners to take bold climate action for a just and sustainable future. We recognize that we are not the first to do this work and that BIMPOC advocates have been fighting for racial and environmental justice for hundreds of years. There have been countless iterations of public outcries and calls to action and yet the injustices persist. This is not unique to the United States but is also true across Canada. Perhaps it is a confluence of factors, including COVID-19, that has allowed for the echo of Black voices most recently to be heard farther and louder than before. We are seeing a collective shift in environmental and social justice narratives away from empty virtue signalling and harmfully outsourcing responsibility, towards intersectional action and accountability. In tandem with our peers on campus and beyond, we commit to being part of this collective shift.
We acknowledge that UBC’s campuses are situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations, and Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation. We recognize the historical and present systems of oppression that contribute to BIMPOC communities continuing to disproportionately experience the effects of climate change and racial violence. These injustices are not mutually exclusive, instead, they are constantly intersecting and exacerbating one another. Hence why there can be no racial justice without climate justice and there can be no climate justice without racial justice.
We would also like to address the wave of appalling racism towards Asian communities that has stemmed from the Covid-19 pandemic. An increase in disease spread, like pandemic outbreaks, is a predicted impact of climate change. In these moments we must recognize the ways in which global climate events can intersect with issues of racism, and work to counter these injustices. As public discourse now shifts towards our lives ‘going back to normal’, we know that for many this is just a euphemism for upholding the racial and environmental status quo. ‘Normal’ means continuing to exploit the land and racialized bodies while prioritizing white supremacy, individualism, and greed over the wellbeing of people and the planet. ‘Normal’ means Black and Indigenous expendability and erasure. That is why ‘going back to normal’ is unacceptable.
We must envision a just future that centers the lives of those who are currently impacted most by the injustices that we normalize. Our present and future must be grounded in community care and resilience and we must begin to imagine a world that isn’t restricted by colonial mindsets. We must avoid compartmentalizing our efforts towards justice into racial justice and climate justice and instead tackle the parallel root causes: white supremacy, colonialism, and the current economic systems grounded in resource extraction. As climate activists, we also understand that systemic action is needed to address these systemic problems. In addition to each of us reforming our individual actions and behaviours, we must also leverage our collective action in order to dismantle harmful systems and industries. We cannot fall for the illusion that minor, incremental ‘tweaks’ will change anything. It will take fundamental policy and legislative changes, divestment from oppressive institutions, and a significant redistribution of resources to see systemic injustices rectified.
As the UBC Climate Hub and as individuals, we want to take responsibility for our roles and the ways that we benefit from these systems of oppression. We know that although a statement of solidarity is good, it is not enough on its own. That is why we also want to build off of our existing justice work and continue to take action towards shaping meaningful systemic change in pursuit of a just future for all. As a team we have spent the last few weeks listening, reflecting, and discussing ways we can take anti-racist action both on an individual level and an organizational level.
This is what we have committed to so far.
Internal Learning & Practices
Programming & Partnerships
We are incredibly grateful to the many BIMPOC organizers, activists, scholars, and our team members who have and continue to patiently and graciously teach us. We promise to keep listening and integrating your insights into our work and everyday lives. We are committed to embedding these actively anti-racist practices long term and encourage everyone in our community to join us in this work.
If you have any thoughts that you would like to share with us about these commitments, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch with us at [email protected].
The UBC Climate Hub team