Unequal impact

As a health researcher, Dr. Ingrid Waldron didn’t set out to focus on environmental issues. But then she realized the health impact that environmental racism has on individuals and communities.

Innovation: Dr. Waldron’s recent research focuses on the health effects of environmental racism, which she specifically defines as “the disproportionate location of industrial polluters and other environmentally hazardous activities near to Black and Indigenous communities.” Her book There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities was released in 2018 and led to a documentary of the same name co-produced with actor-director Ellen Page. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and Atlantic International Film Festival in 2019.

Dr. Waldron’s book led to a documentary of the same name co-produced with actor-director Ellen Page.

“I want the film to engage and touch the hearts and humanity of viewers, including politicians, in ways that incite them to act on environmental injustices and other social injustices happening across this country and
the world.”

Foundation: “My PhD and postdoc research interests were on Black women’s mental health issues and I came to Dal from Toronto to continue that work,” says Dr. Waldron. That changed in 2012 when she was asked to create and lead a project on environmental racism called ENRICH (Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health). “At the time I said ‘yes’ hesitantly because I had no interest in environmental issues or the environmental movement. I decided to do it because I recognized that environmental racism was ultimately a health issue, and that as a health researcher, I could contribute to research on environmental health inequities which was still in its infancy in Canada,” she says.

Inspiration: “I am inspired by what I see in the Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotia communities: people who are organizing at the grassroots level who don’t give up.”

Why It Matters: According to Dr. Waldron’s work, these communities also lack political power to advocate against the negative impacts of environmental policies. “My hope for the film is to amplify the voices and stories of Indigenous and Black communities on the front lines of environmental justice organizing and activism in Nova Scotia and Canada.”