Working together to demand action on Environmental Racism

CBTU Canada has joined Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change to engage community and labour activists through a research project on environmental racism.

What does #BlackLivesMatter, and the unshakable moral principle that it represents, have to do with climate change? Everything. Because we can be quite sure that if wealthy white Americans had been the ones left without food and water for days in a giant sports stadium after Hurricane Katrina, even George W. Bush would have gotten serious about climate change.

Similarly, if Australia were at risk of disappearing, and not large parts of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Tony Abbott would be a lot less likely to publicly celebrate the burning of coal as “good for humanity,” as he did on the occasion of the opening of a vast new coal mine.


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“Too White to Solve the Climate Crisis?”

Environmental groups have a diversity problem. Here are some ways we can fix it.
By: Jesse Firempong


A US group tracking green groups’ diversity, found 20% of staff at the largest 40 US-based environmental non-governmental organizations identified as people of colour in 2018, even though racialized people make up about 40% of the American population.


“People are scared to talk about race,” says Kenyan-born Wanjiro Ndungu, who works in fundraising at Greenpeace Canada’s Toronto office. She’s also our organization’s diversity manager. “I think what makes change happen is being able to deal with that uncomfortable experience,” she adds.


Greenpeace has created more diverse hiring panels and a new staff equity committee.


Continue reading article here

Gentrification is Environmental Racism

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Excellent Meeting today at the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)‘s Executive Council meeting, chaired by their new President Patty Jarvis Coates. Ahmad Gaied, Secretary-Treasurer OFL, and Christopher Wilson, 1st Vice-President CBTU reported on the partnership between CBTU Ontario, Canada, and the OFL to put the pressure on governments at all levels to understand that: gentrification is environmental racism.



A new Legacies of Labour poster series and media campaign has been released demanding affordable housing for all. Janice Gairey is profiled in the campaign in recognition of her lifelong commitment to the elimination of anti-black racism, Islamophobia and racial inequality in all its forms.


Text CBTU to 647-797-9901 to get involved in this fight!  This project is in celebration of African Liberation and Black History Month.

For more information or to download the Generations of Justice campaign poster visit



Building Solidarity & Overcoming Fear: Mexico, Canada, and USA Activists Gathering


The “Overcoming Fear: Creating a Trinational Workers Toolkit Conference” in Pennsylvania brought together trade unionists and Migrant Activists from Mexico, USA, and Canada. The trinational Conference was organized by United Electrical Workers, United Steelworkers, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.



Patricia Chong, who designed the Environmental Racism workshop, attended the conference as as a representative for the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (ACLA). Elizabeth Ha attended as a representative for Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW).

ACLA and CBTU have been partnering to deliver the Environmental Racism workshop across Ontario for over a year engaging over 500 union members and community activists in participatory discussions to both identify and stop environmental racism.



More Conference Information Environmental Racism Project Resources



Le racisme environnemental et les droits de la personne/ Environmental Racism – A Human Rights Perspective


UFCW Human Rights Committee Meeting


Le racisme environnemental et les droits de la personne

Les membres du Comité des droits de la personne du Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses unis de l’alimentation et du commerce (TUAC) d’un bout à l’autre du pays se sont réunis pour participer à l’atelier Green is not White Environmental Racism. Les discussions ont été très constructives et ont permis d’entendre des points de vue variés provenant de toutes les régions du pays. Nous avons également eu la chance d’entendre une personne déléguée du Québec, le frère Othman Benlemoudden, représentant syndical, TUAC 501, qui a apporté un point de vue éclairé (et bilingue) à la séance.

L’atelier s’est terminé par une question posée par Emmanuelle Lopez-Bastos, représentant des TUAC pour l’équité et les droits de la personne : « Quelles mesures les membres des TUAC peuvent-ils prendre pour mettre fin au racisme environnemental? » Denise Hampden (CBTU et AFPC) et Christopher Wilson (CBTU et AFPC) ont indiqué, qu’en s’appuyant sur les principes de l’éducation populaire, il fallait créer un espace pour permettre aux membres de s’exprimer sur cette question tout en étant confiants qu’ils et elles ont les connaissances pour y répondre. Comme Paulo Freire et Myles Horton nous l’ont enseigné : « C’est en marchant que nous construisons notre chemin ».

Dans la semaine qui a suivi la présentation de cet atelier, nous avons appris que les documents de l’atelier de deux heures, les notes d’animation et les documents d’appoint sont maintenant disponibles en français grâce à l’excellent travail des traductrices de l’Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada. Vous pourrez trouver cette documentation ici:


Télécharger la présentation en français (PDF) Télécharger les notes d’animation en français (PDF)


Environmental Racism – A Human Rights Perspective

Human Rights Committee members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) came together from across Canada to engage in the Green Is Not White Environmental Racism workshop. Discussions were participatory with varied perspectives offered from regions across the country. We also had the chance to hear from a delegate from Quebec, Brother Othman Benlemoudden, UFCW 501 Union Representative, who brought thoughtful (and bilingual) insight to the session.

The workshop concluded with a question from Emmanuelle Lopez-Bastos, the Equity and Human Rights rep from UFCW. She asked: “What actions can UFCW members take to stop environmental racism?” Building upon the principles of popular education, Denise Hampden (CBTU and PSAC) and Christopher Wilson (CBTU and PSAC) responded: create spaces to ask your members that very question and trust the knowledge will be in the room. As Paulo Freire and Myles Horton teach us: “We Make the Road by Walking”

Within a week of delivering this session we received word that, the materials for the 2 hour workshop, both facilitation notes and handouts are now available in French thanks to the great work of translators at the Public Service Alliance of Canada. They can be found here:


Download the Presentation - French (PDF) Download the Facilitator Notes - French (PDF)




It takes a community to build Racial Justice

How can we stop environmental racism within our workplaces, Unions and communities?

“Many labour educators want to address racism through our work with members”, says Barb Thomas (Co-Author: Education for Changing Unions). But spaces for conversations around racism and white supremacy within the movement are disparate and often face resistance.

In March of 2018 twenty Labour educators from across Unions and community organizations came together in a meeting hosted by United Steelworkers to share their approaches and tools for talking about racism and every-day white supremacy with workers.



The session was so invigorating, another meeting was scheduled, this time in the offices of another union. The group has grown and continues to meet every three months, each time with a different organizing group, and a different aspect of racism to focus on.  At one session, people mapped where, in their organizations, discussions of racism are happening and not happening.

Members of the group are learning from each other, taking courage from initiatives in each other’s organizations, and sharing resources between sessions. This network calls itself Talking with Workers about Everyday White Supremacy. The word “everyday” refers not to the Ku Klux Klan style racism, but the everyday ways that white people benefit from their privilege, how privilege is harmful to people in equity-seeking groups, how racism is used to divide workers and how it is perpetuated.

The objective of this network is to Build a community and a collaborative space for reflection, experimentation and Action.

Building upon this community, Labour educators came together on September 4, 2019 to participate in and reflect upon the Environmental Racism project as part of a larger discussion of decolonizing Turtle Island. Workshops included: The Trouble with Land Acknowledgements, Environmental Racism – Green is Not White, the Game of life on Turtle island (part of unionism on Turtle Island) and an important discussion about what we need to start doing, what we need to keep doing and what we should stop doing to promote decolonization within our social movements.

The meeting was not an end but part of an ongoing process of design, participatory learning and support for more action.

When asked the question: “How do we stop environmental racism?” Sister Thomas replied by quoting Myles Horton and Paulo Freire “We make the road by walking.”


United to stop environmental racism


‘In Unity, Strength’ is the foundational belief of the labour movement, but what does unity look like? – Christopher Wilson, CBTU

Over 150 Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) delegates from across Canada and the United States came together to stop environmental racism by participating In the Green Is Not White workshop designed to expose the disproportionate impact of climate change upon racialized and Indigenous communities.

Christopher Wilson’s recent article in Our Times magazine takes the reader inside the room: “ ‘In Unity, Strength’ is the foundational belief of the labour movement, but what does unity look like?” Wilson is 1st Vice-President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Ontario, Canada Chapter; and project lead with the ACW’s (Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change) Environmental Racism Research Project. He is also the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Ontario Region coordinator.


Read the article on


The workshop, delivered at the CBTU Region 1 Conference, opened with a Territorial Acknowledgement that drew linkages to the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples both north and south of the border with a call to action to Trade Unionists to engage in a process of decolonization across Turtle Island.


Read Territory Acknowledgement – Environmental Racism (PDF)


Credit to Denise Hampden, Regional Education Officer Public Service Alliance of Canada



Environmental Racism and Work in a Warming World Workshop


Patricia Chong (Asian Canadian Labour Alliance) and Chris Wilson (Coalition of Black Trade Unionists) co-delivered a 2-hour module of the Environmental Racism Workshop at the Indigenous and Workers of Colour Conference organized by the Toronto and York Region Labour Council on June 1st, 2019.





2-Hour Workshop for Large Groups

Environmental Racism and Work in a Warming World Workshop: Facilitator Notes

By The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists & Adapting Canadian Work & Workplaces

Workshop Learning Objectives

By the end of the 2-hour workshop, participants should be able to do the following:

1) Explain what environmental racism is and how it impacts Racialized and Indigenous communities in Canada;

2) Describe the connection between environmental racism and the workplace;

3) Explain how Racialized and Indigenous workers have been marginalized by the Green Jobs Revolution;


• These are suggested workshop facilitation notes. Users are encouraged to adapt the workshop to fit their needs
• This 2-hour workshop is a shortened version of an 8 hour (full-day) workshop. For the full-length version of the facilitator notes, the participant companion guide, additional resources, please visit:
• Bibliographic information is provided in the workshop companion guide


Download Workshop Guide (PDF)


Download additional notes (PDF)


Download the Presentation (PDF)