CBTU Leads Environmental Racism Workshop for Teachers


Jawara Gairey
Jawara Gairey of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists facilitated the workshop on environmental racism for Elementary Teachers of Toronto

Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) invited Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) to come speak to their Environment Committee around the issue of Environmental Racism and Work on the morning of Federation Day (December 1st, 2017). The workshop was slotted to be from 9:00am to 10:30am followed by a 10:30am to 12:00pm presentation by LeRoi Newbold of #BLMTO on addressing systematic anti-black racism in our schools and communities. It was held at SH Armstrong Community Centre at 56 Woodfield Rd. (Queen E. and Greenwood).

Jawara Gairey facilitated the workshop, which ran for about 1.5 hours. The workshop focused on how climate change exposes structural racial inequality and the opportunity that this exposure provides racialized communities to strategize towards a just transition. Jawara presented a PowerPoint to a group of around 40 ETT activists. The workshop also included interactive participant activities to add their knowledge to the discussion. The feedback received from ETT activists included how to implement strategies within their respective schools and communities to engage students and adults on the topic. ETT activists also submitted a variety of ideas from creating intentional action such as teaching children to create food gardens at school and promote local consumption practices, free cycling hubs for children to commute to school, and developing strategies around the skills required for racialized students to be prepared for the Green Economy from the K-8 grades.

ETT Executive Member Joy Lachica spoke with members about sharing these ideas with the executive in order to get some traction within ETFO and have deliberations with the Government on the need to promote these initiatives for structural change in the education curriculum. Joy Lachica captured members’ experiences:

“It was such an amazing workshop; activists and curious members were there because they chose to be over many other offerings. Thus, the group conversations were rich and insightful. I felt that the passionate hearts for these issues who ventured to the east end, found resources, support and new vision for this work at their sites.”

The next steps following the workshop included the contribution to research from the participant’s feedback, sharing of the research initiative on social media, connecting with ETT for initiatives linking to our research.