Climate Justice Toronto: An Intersectional Climate Movement
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, I attended an educational meeting run by Climate Justice Toronto. This is a youth-led, grassroots organization that pushes for an intersectional view of climate justice. It recognizes that mainstream environmental movements have not been inclusive enough for far too long — a grave mistake since climate change doesn’t discriminate.
About 30–40 of us gathered at the Workers Action Centre just south of Spadina station from 6–8 p.m. The meeting started off with brief introductions and we asked each other, “what made you decide to come to this meeting?” While answers varied, they more or less went along the lines of, “we are frustrated with the way corporations get special treatment while harming the environment; with governments continuing to fail Indigenous peoples; with white supremacists scapegoating and targeting our migrant friends/neighbours/loved ones while the true criminals, the corporate elite who are causing the real damage, go unnoticed.” The list of grievances went on.
But there was also a hopeful response: “We are curious, we are here to learn, to listen to and discuss old and new ideas, to figure out what works and what doesn't.”
The meeting certainly lived up to my expectations. I left with new and insightful information, and many questions on how to move forward. So, what did we cover?
Intersectionality at the heart of climate justice
For too long, mainstream environmental groups have ignored how other groups (racial, migrant, gender, etc.) are affected by climate inequality. Their experiences are real and their needs have to be addressed. Climate change affects everyone and therefore should include everyone.
Migrant rights, racism, and xenophobia
People don't painstakingly rebuild their lives in another country just because they're lazy and want to take our jobs (the last two are contradictory — working and being lazy). They move because their lives are in danger. Bahamians who left their island via boat due to the havoc caused by Hurricane Dorian were denied entry to the U.S. because they didn't have a visa. But they aren't the first eco-refugees to attempt entry into the U.S. without visas, and they were genuinely displaced, hence the term refugees. This kind of denial is not unique to the U.S.; it’s happening right here in Canada, too. The Safe Third Country agreement between Canada and the U.S. denies refugees applying for asylum in Canada if they've already done so in the U.S and the People's Party of Canada leader, Maxime Bernier, is trying to scare potential Canadians with massive "stop mass immigration" billboards.
The Green New Deal
Ever since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have highlighted it, everyone's heard of the Green New Deal, but they don't necessarily know what it advocates for. In essence, a Green New Deal would transition a country’s economy from an unrealistic, unsustainable, limitless capitalist one to a 100-percent renewable one. What is key to this transition is the consideration of worker and migrant rights, and the recognition of Indigenous sovereignty. Nobody can be left behind.
Climate Justice Toronto actively canvasses citizens to advocate for climate justice for all. Everyone should be involved because climate change concerns everyone. If you don't know much about anything mentioned above, don't be scared to learn! Go to a meeting led by Climate Justice Toronto, Migrant Rights Network, or other organizations advocating for climate equality. Read, read, read! Read about the Green New Deal, migrant rights, climate change, and Indigenous rights. Get informed before you vote. Check out what your Member of Parliament candidates stand for. Do they fight for everyone's rights or just those of a small few? A politician's job is to serve everyone, and everyone is impacted by climate change.