As the days of COVID-19 isolation blend into each other, it’s important to continue to pause and celebrate special moments. Birthdays, anniversaries, and collective celebrations help keep our values in perspective – even during such a challenging time.
Earlier this month, on April 22nd, we marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This annual celebration helps us reflect on our relationship with the land and other living beings. As the climate continues to change, and as our movements become more deliberate during this pandemic, the role of nature in our well-being has been magnified. There is no better time than now to recognize the work of organizations led by women in Toronto who are making the Earth a better place for all beings.
First up is Black Creek Community Farm (BCCF) in Toronto’s West end. The Director of BCCF is Leticia Deawuo, a long-time resident and activist in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood. The Farm offers programming for kids and families, seniors, and provides fresh produce for residents of the area. During the COVID-19 pandemic, BCCF has worked with community partners to provide free emergency food boxes to those who need support. The staff and volunteers at the farm also work to harvest food from within the neighbourhood and cultivate a food forest.
Another fantastic Toronto-based initiative is the Indigenous Environmental Justice Project (IEJP). This effort is led primarily by a group of women, with Dr. Deborah McGregor as the Principal Investigator. IEJP uses Indigenous knowledge systems to address the unequal impacts of climate change on marginalized communities, specifically racialized communities and communities that face poverty. They list the goals of their project as
1. Offering support to communities currently fighting an environmental injustice;
2. Providing resources to teachers and schools that are interested in educating their students; about the concept of Indigenous environmental justice; and,
3. Continually creating opportunities for inclusive dialogue on how to move toward greater justice.
The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) is an advocacy group that works with communities and the City to improve the urban environment. Led by Executive Director Emmay Mah, TEA has worked to reduce waste and toxins, improve the Greenbelt, and expand public transit. TEA works from an equity approach and tries to address the needs of everyone in Toronto.
Women’s Healthy Environments Network (WHEN) is yet another group based in Toronto that focuses primarily on the impact of the environment on human health. WHEN uses the knowledge of women to offer public education on the prevention of environmental harms. Cassie Barker is at the helm of WHEN as Executive Director. WHEN is the distributor of two films about environmental justice and works with City officials to improve legislation.
Thank you so much to all of these groups, and many others, who are doing the work of improving our environment and centering women’s voices in the environmental movement. If we all come together and work towards change, anything is possible!
Written by Lauren Pragg, Senior Marketing and Advocacy Officer
Image by Nikola Jovanovic