ESAM Lunch & Learn – Seeing psycho-social impacts of contaminated sites through the lens of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
25 November 2020
25 November 2020
On November 25, 2020 ESAM will be offering a lunch ‘n learn presentation by François Lauzon, C.D., M.Eng., P.Eng., LEED BD+C. An abstract of the presentation has been provided below:
Seeing psycho-social impacts of contaminated sites through the lens of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) presented the Executive Summary of the findings contained in its multi-volume Final Report, including 94 calls to action (or recommendations). In the summary report, one could read how “new policies can easily be based on a lack of understanding of Aboriginal people, similar to that which motivated the schools…We must learn from the failure of the schools in order to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated in the future.” This statement can easily be applied to how contaminated sites on First Nations lands may have resulted from what sociologist are referring to as environmental racism and how remediation projects can be influenced by a “colonialist approach” that may not address the potential psycho-social stresses caused by contaminated sites – from their historical context to the proposed way-forward. The concept of environmental racism could be considered through the lens of seeing members of minority groups that may bear a greater burden of the health problems that result from higher exposure to waste and pollution. This can occur due to unsafe or unhealthy conditions where no regulations exist (or are enforced) for poor communities/neighborhoods that are uncomfortably close to toxic materials. Whether health impacts can be clearly demonstrated or not, the modern pressures voiced by anti-colonialism and any perception of abuse can have a significant impact on the psycho-social health of the Community. If there is one key lesson from the TRC that needs to be considered is that every non-Aboriginal person in Canada, including new Canadians, corporation, organization, small business, consultant, or professional who is working with, or wants to do business with Aboriginal communities, organizations or individuals will benefit from developing Aboriginal awareness proper to the Community affected by the contamination.
This presentation will present key terminology and concepts around environmental racism, phyco-social impacts of contaminated lands, and discuss the importance of “Engagement” (vs. Consultation) with First Nations and how selected calls to action from the TRC could be integrated into the Project Engagement Plan, with particular attention to addressing potential psycho-social stressors in the community.