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)