Environment & Diversity Blog

Welcome to Sustainability Network's Environment & Diversity Blog!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Questions we often come back to is what is diversity? What is Inclusion? What is beyond the set definitions of diversity and inclusion?

The journey to understand Diversity and Inclusion is not an easy one. It has its own dynamics, it own embedded understandings. Understanding diversity and practicing inclusion is not a destination in itself but rather a process.

The notion of Inclusion has its nuances that are constantly evolving. This was one of my many learnings being a part of the Environment and Diversity project back in 2011. I guess it brought in me that awareness, a reflective sense and rather enthused me to ask the right questions, to at least realize that the possibilities of those questions exist.

So many articles, so many images, so many presentations, so many conferences and meets happen almost every day across the world and across the sections. Are we asking questions because it is in the air, because it has beginning to affect us or because somewhere one feels that we can no longer ignore the inevitable? Today we constantly make an attempt to atleast locate the problems, locate alternates and discuss the challenges.

The effort is now to understand and reflect these very nuances and their inter-linkages in varied ways of society, science, technology, education and development at large. The very sense that inclusion is not merely about passively including the excluded, nor is it merely about internationalization, but rather practicing inclusion as a natural part of the extended diverse group.

If only diversity and inclusion is not considered as an agenda to be achieved. If only diversity and inclusion is seen as an extension and a part of policies, people, development and progress.

If only one considers what matters in truest sense; there is however a long way to know with an absolute certainty if there is a paradigm shift in making, and will it really show in due time. After all, the garden would certainly look prettier with cherry plum peach and damson together. Would it not?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Native Bus Tour…and More!

Last October 13, the Sustainability Network and Toronto Green Community co-sponsored the “Native Bus Tour of Toronto”, a two-part event that consisted of an historical tour of Toronto from an Aboriginal perspective, as well as a post-tour discussion on how non-profit organizations and Aboriginal organizations/ communities can work together to further common goals. It was originally envisioned that this event would focus on environmental NGOs and Aboriginal organizations. However, there was keen interest from the other sectors of the non-profit community (social justice, faith-based groups, education, arts, community and social services) hence the scope of the event was expanded.

The tour started outside the office of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, the organization that regularly runs these educational tours. Our guide and educator, Don Jabokwoam, was very engaging and quite knowledgeable of Toronto’s Aboriginal history. He first brought us to the Étienne Brûlé Park right by the Humber river. He had explained to us the succession of First Nations that had settled in the area (from the Huron-Wendat to the Six Nations, to the Mississaugas), and how Aboriginal history is fraught with conflict and territorial disputes among various First Nations…no different from that of historical conflicts among nations in Europe, Asia or Africa.

As we moved from one location to the next, we learned more about the importance of the flora and fauna in these places (grass with bug repellant properties, cedar to prevent rashes, spruce trees for making porridge) and how mounds are significant burial sites for some, but not all, Aboriginal communities. The wonderful thing about this information exchange was that the indigenous knowledge and history came not just from our guide, Don, but also from the Aboriginal participants who freely shared their knowledge with the group. This openness in sharing knowledge and opinions perfectly set up the afternoon activity.

Suzanne Methot, a teacher with the Toronto District School Board and a Cree from Sagitawa (Peace River, Alberta), facilitated the post-tour discussion. This discussion focused on how the different groups (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) could work together to incorporate what they have learned during the tour to promote and protect some of the sites that were visited. Results of the discussions included: mapping of areas to reflect Aboriginal history, staging historical plays from an Aboriginal perspective, and tours that tell the real story – which includes both European and Aboriginal views. After sharing their thoughts and ideas, the participants expressed their interest in finding opportunities to make collaboration among their organizations happen.

Photo by Suzanne Methot

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Register Now for Collective Impact! The Environment & Our Diverse Society on June 3 @Evergreen Brick Works

Collective Impact! The Environment and Our Diverse Society

Location: Evergreen Brick Works
550 Bayview Ave., Toronto
Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Reception: 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Registration Fee: $100

Collective Impact! The Environment & Our Diverse Society is a signature event of the Environment & Diversity Project, a collaborative initiative led by the Sustainability Network.

Collective Impact! will bring together environmental nonprofits, settlement agencies, and community and faith groups and is designed to help the environmental movement change to better reflect various ethno-cultural and Aboriginal communities. Thought leaders will share insights and facilitated discussions will showcase success stories. There will be opportunities to explore numerous existing diversity initiatives and ample time to network and develop key contacts.

Keynote Speakers
Michael Adams, President, Environics
Robin Cardozo, CEO, Ontario Trillium Foundation
Melissa Shin, Contributing Editor, Corporate Knights Magazine
Rosemarie Powell, Assistant Executive Director, Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre

Register Now!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Environment & Diversity Mini-Grants Are Here!

Happy new year!

Sustainability Network is pleased to announce the first of two annual rounds of Environment & Diversity Mini-Grants.

Funds are available to support nonprofits with environmental programs and activities to consider, develop and implement strategies to better reflect and engage ethno-cultural and Aboriginal communities by responding to the extensive knowledge, interests and important needs of those communities.

Grants to a maximum of $5000 will be made. There is a total of $25,000 in funds available for 2011.

Guidelines and application information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Diversity Project Manager Sonia Dong Speaks on Diversity in the Environmental Movement

Sustainability Network’s Diversity Project Manager Sonia Dong speaks about diversity in the environmental movement on the DiverseCity Toronto website. Check out her video story.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dec. 17 Webinar on Chicago's Community Engagement with Diverse Populations

Sustainability Network's Environment & Diversity partner Clean Air Partnership is hosting an interesting webinar on Chicago's community engagement with diverse populations. Hope you can make it!

The City of Chicago has formed a partnership with Chicago's Field Museum to engage the public in the development and the implementation of the Chicago Climate Action Plan. The Field Museum has also focused on reaching out to Chicago's diverse populations. Join Clean Air Partnership on Friday December 17th at 1 pm when:

  • Jennifer Hirsch from the Chicago Field Museum will present on the activities and learnings of Community Engagement on Chicago's Climate Action Plan.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anti-racism for Environmentalists

"There can be no green movement unless there is a also a black, brown and copper movement ... our house is literally burning, and it is only logical that environmentalists expect the social-justice movement to get on the environmental bus. But it is the other way around, the only way we are going to put out the fire is to get on the social justice bus and heal our wounds, because in the end, there is only one bus." ~Paul Hawken

Sustainability Network recently held an Anti-Racism for Environmentalists workshop for the collaborative members in the Environment & Diversity Project. Led by Anu Radha Verma and Muna Ali, the jam-packed day included activities and case studies that addressed social location, everyday racism, institutional racism and systemic racism, environmental justice and environmental racism, a discussion about definitions and a learning session on the history of Canada and colonization. It was great day to learn about each other and about how move the movement forward.

We thought we'd post a couple of the documents Anu and Muna put together for us for you to download - an excellent terminology/definitions list with selected reading and comparison chart of multiculturalism vs. anti-racism. Both are available on the Sustainability Network website.

More about our facilitators:

Anu Radha Verma has lived and worked in Toronto, Peterborough, Mississauga and New Delhi. She is intensely concerned with issues of social justice and has engaged in work around issues of race, gender, sexuality and the environment.

Muna Abdulkadir Ali is a Masters student in Sociology at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her interests include: environmental justice, transnational sexualities, feminist theories, and anti-racism as well as anti-colonial work/organizing.