Minister Guilbeault meets with historically impacted Black community in advance of environmental justice and racism bill

News release

March 14, 2024 – Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Everyone should have the right to a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, held a roundtable in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, with a Black community that has been impacted by environmental pollution since the 1940s. Shelburne’s former landfill burned trash for 75 years, sending noxious fumes into the community, and although closed in 2016, the community experiences ongoing issues with water contamination.

Also present at the roundtable were representatives from the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health (ENRICH) Project, a collaborative, community-based organization addressing the social, political, and health effects of environmental racism and climate change in Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities in Canada.

During the roundtable, the Minister heard the Black community’s experiences with environmental racism and discussed progress on Bill C-226, which would require the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop a national strategy to assess, prevent, and address environmental racism and advance environmental justice. Under the proposed legislation, the national strategy would be required within two years of the Bill coming into force, developed in consultation with interested stakeholders and communities.

The Government is engaging Canadians on environmental justice and racism to highlight the fact that certain communities have been disproportionately affected by environmental hazards like pollution, toxic waste, landfills, and dumps. It is providing affected communities with the opportunity to meaningfully participate in, among other things, finding solutions to address harm caused by environmental racism and advance environmental justice.


“Environmental protection should not depend on who you are or where you live. We must ensure the health of all communities. Decision-making should provide equal opportunity to all, and actively avoid discriminating against under-represented groups. This national engagement will help us meaningfully and collectively reflect on environmental justice and racism. I am looking forward to advancing together toward a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment, for the well-being of all Canadians and of future generations.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“As a researcher and community advocate who has been addressing environmental racism since 2012, I have seen first-hand how the disproportionate siting of hazardous industry and projects has impacted the social well-being and the health of racialized and other marginalized communities in Canada. And, while research, education, advocacy, and activism have played important roles in advancing environmental justice over the years, policy and legislation have always been the missing piece of the puzzle. Supporting Bill C-226, requiring the development of a National Environmental Justice Strategy, will lead to witnessing its positive outcomes in the communities that have been most harmed by environmental racism.”
– Dr. Ingrid Waldron, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice

“As an advocate and activist for Shelburne's Black community working to address environmental racism in the town of Shelburne, the eventual passage of Bill C-226 will be a historic moment. For 241 years, our community has faced the brunt of racism and discrimination, enduring environmental injustices, health disparities, and loss of culture. The time for reparations is long overdue. With this legislation, we take a step forward in addressing the legacy of environmental racism. It's imperative that we remediate sites like the Morvan Road Landfill and provide compensation to Black communities for the harm inflicted.”
– Louise Delisle, Shelburne, Nova Scotia Resident and Community Leader

“Now is the time to act. The legacy of environmental racism has disproportionately impacted the Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities for decades. We welcome and thank Minister Guilbeault for listening to the stories and lived experiences of our community. As we move forward, it will be paramount to see the passing of legislation to redress environmental racism in all jurisdictions.”
– Vanessa Hartley, Shelburne, Nova Scotia Resident and Community Leader

Quick facts

  • On March 8, 2022, the Government of Canada reaffirmed its commitment to advancing environmental justice by supporting private Member’s Bill C-226, An Act Respecting the Development of a National Strategy to Assess, Prevent and Address Environmental Racism and to Advance Environmental Justice.

  • Separately, on June 13, 2023, Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, received Royal Assent:

    • It represents the first set of comprehensive amendments in over 20 years to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, one of Canada’s core environmental laws.
    • It strengthens how chemicals and other substances are assessed and managed and ensures that we have the best possible tools to protect the health of Canadians and the environment.
  • The Government of Canada will engage with interested persons, Indigenous peoples, partners, and stakeholders through the winter and spring of 2024, with the publication of the Draft Implementation Framework targeted for the fall of 2024.

  • The Canadian Environmental Protection Act has also been updated to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  • The Advancing Environmental Equity online platform will support the Government of Canada’s understanding of environmental racism in Canada and gather views from people across Canada and their lived experiences of the issue.

  • The Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health (ENRICH) Project is a collaborative, community-based research and engagement project on environmental racism in Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities.


Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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