An Analysis of Environmentalism Among the Black Population within Vancouver

  • Authors: Temwani Siwu and Maya Nelson-Rowntree
  • Faculty Supervisor: Mohammed Rafi Arefin and James Connolloy
  • Year: Fall 2021

Our research is stemming from the understanding that traditional approaches to environmentalism within North America have posed challenges and barriers for black involvement. This is due to the ways in which many environmental groups have adopted a white-centered, depoliticised and colour neutral approach to environmentalism. In addition, there have been criticisms that many environmental groups do not place enough emphasis on racial justice and the ways in which environmental harms disproportionately affect communities of colour.

Our research approach aims to better understand the black experience in Vancouver and the ways in which and the extent in which they participate within the local environmental movement. We also aim to create a better understanding of some of the impediments and challenges that may prevent black people from joining the mainstream environmental movement within the environmental movement. Our research method consists of multiple semi-structured interviews of both environmental organisations within Vancouver and organisations that are focused on/ have close contact with the black community. We understand that some of these challenges may be stemming from the ways in which environmental groups define the “environment”. We believe that their definition of the “environment” affects which initiates the groups pursue and who is a part of the group.

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