Environmental Racism: There’s Something in the Water

eMERGE was delighted to host Dr. Ingrid Waldron, who discussed the legacy of environmental racism in Indigenous and Black communities in Canada.

She shared her work in supporting the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia that led to her award winning book: ” There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities”. The book was followed by a documentary of the same name by actor Ellen Page. The film went on to be highlighted at TIFF and now can be found on Netflix (see below).

Kween, the Executive Director of the Guelph Black Heritage Society and Bruce Weaver joined Dr. Waldron in discussing Pictou Landing while looking at the issue of racism locally – environmental and otherwise.

Environmental racism is real and must be part of our fight against climate change. Achieving environmental justice must include social justice.

A recording of the webinar can be found on our YouTube Channel here!

The slide deck for this webinar is now available here.


Environmental devastation is most often felt by marginalized people. In Canada that means Indigenous, Blacks and other people of colour. The pattern has – and continues – to repeat itself.

It is environmental racism. It’s blatant and systemic.

One of the most egregious cases in the country is on the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia. Here, a pulp and paper mill dumped toxic effluent directly into Boat Harbour, on the reserve, for over 50 years. It’s been devastating for the community.

“In Canada, your postal code determines your health,” says Dr. Waldron of Dalhousie University in Halifax. “we know that where you live has bearing on your well-being. Indigenous and black communities are the ones that tend to be located near hazardous sites.”

With deep roots in Nova Scotia, Ellen Page found it difficult to sit by and watch things get worse. “You see how these issues are life or death, literally,” she said to Time Magazine. “The lack of response by the government and how much individuals have been silenced in these situations is absolutely just atrocious and appalling.”

The Book: There’s Something in the Water

The Film Trailer: There’s Something in the Water (now available on Netflix)


About Our Speakers

Dr. Ingrid Waldron| Ph.D., Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University

Dr. Ingrid Waldron is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University, the Director of the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project) and the Flagship Co-Lead of the Improving the Health of People of African Descent. Her research, teaching, community leadership and advocacy work are examining and addressing the health and mental health impacts of structural inequalities within the environment, public infrastructure, health and mental health care, and child welfare in Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and refugee communities.

As the Director of the ENRICH Project over the last 8 years, Dr. Waldron has been investigating the socio-economic, political, and health effects of environmental racism in Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities. The ENRICH Project formed the basis to Dr. Waldron’s first book There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities, which received the 2020 Society for Socialist Studies Errol Sharpe Book Prize and the 2019 Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing.

The 2020 Netflix documentary There’s Something in the Water is based on Dr. Waldron’s book and was co-produced by Waldron, actress Ellen Page, Ian Daniel, and Julia Sanderson, and co-directed by Page and Daniel.

Dr. Waldron is currently developing the first national anti-environmental racism coalition that will bring together partners from multiple sectors to address and advocate around environmental racism, climate change, health inequities, and other social inequalities in Canada.

For more information on the work of Dr. Waldron, follow these links:

Kween| Executive Director, Guelph Black Heritage Society
Within the BIPOC (Black, Indegenious and Person of Colour) community in Guelph, Kween advocates for the rights of African and Caribbean people as Executive Director for Guelph Black Heritage Society and works closely on anti-racism training, social justice and policy change. She was the leader of Guelph’s June 6th BLM Protest and uses her platform to educate her community and elected officials. Dedicated to Carnival, helping promote black excellence through Caribana while giving her time back to the high schools during Black History Month.
Kween is a dance teacher, business owner, cannabis educator and activist. She grew up in Guelph attending the University of Guelph. She then migrated to Toronto graduating as Valedictorian from the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. She now owns two businesses: The Heels Academy and The Kween Company, teaches Soca/Dancehall and Afro at the University of Guelph and is the team coordinator and choreographer for The Guelph Nighthawks Flight Crew. She is honoured to hold an artistic residency for 2020/2021 with Guelph Dance to expand her creative ideas for the Black Community through dance.
She works actively with AHLOT on the Cannabis Curation Committee and Lyte Clinic as a Patient Educator and additionally gives back through her cannabis advocacy for the BIPOC community.

Bruce Weaver| Retired Teacher
Bruce Weaver is a retired elementary school teacher. He and his wife have lived in Guelph since 1983.  Bruce has been active in indigenous circles since his discovery of his native heritage about 10 years ago.  He currently facilitates a men’s circle, is a fire keeper for the community and is a member of Seven Generations Forward, as well as working with the Guelph Public Library to develop stronger relations with the local indigenous community. For the last 4 years, Bruce has facilitated the Kairos Blanket Exercise with local school boards, Faith groups and the University of Guelph and Ryerson University.  Bruce is an active member of Nature Guelph and a keen birder.



The Book: There’s Something in the Water

The Film Trailer: There’s Something in the Water (now available on Netflix)


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