Research Canada has announced that the recipient of the 2020 Individual Leadership in Advocacy Award is Ingrid Waldron, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie. The award is given to exceptional champions of health research and health innovation.
“Congratulations to Dr. Waldron on this well-deserved recognition from Research Canada,” says Alice Aiken, vice president research and innovation at Dal. “Her community leadership and tireless advocacy, based on her research, is playing a critical role in tackling social inequalities and environmental racism. We are so very proud that she is part of the Dalhousie University community.”
Research Canada states that recognition of Canadian health research comes from the dedicated and tireless efforts of health research advocates who educate policymakers, the media, and the public about the social and economic benefits of health research and a better quality of life for all. And, as a recipient of Individual Leadership in Advocacy Award, Dr. Waldron is an exemplar of this criterion.
“Congratulations to Dr. Waldron on her Research Canada Award,” says Brenda Merritt, dean of the Faculty of Health. “Dr. Waldron has collaborated with Mi'kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities and their allies to create awareness and address cases of environmental racism through research, knowledge translation, legislation and advocacy. Her tireless work with these communities has elevated and amplified the voices of affected communities in Nova Scotia on a global scale and is helping to connect them with communities around the world that are on the frontlines of advancing environmental justice. Dr. Waldron uplifts the Faculty and Dalhousie through her community-engaged research and advocacy.”
A busy year
In March, There’s Something in the Water — the documentary she co-produced with actor Elliot Page — was released worldwide on the Netflix streaming service. The film is based on Dr. Waldron's book of the same name which examines the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts on Indigenous and Black communities in Nova Scotia. The documentary moved audiences and critics alike at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and FIN (Atlantic International Film Festival) in fall 2019.
Born in Montreal to Trinidadian parents, Dr. Waldron has been working with Mi'kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities for years to bring the issues of environmental racism in Nova Scotia to light and is now taking her work to the national level.
Bill C-230 A National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism was co-drafted by Dr. Waldron and the MP for Cumberland-Colchester, Lenore Zann. Debate on the bill was held in the House of Commons on December 8, 2020 and will continue in March 2021 when a decision will be made on the approval of the bill at second reading.
Bill C-230 was first conceived as Bill 111, the Environmental Racism Protection Act. Bill 111 was introduced in the Nova Scotia Legislature in April 2015 and moved to second reading on November 2015, but was never approved as legislation.
Undiscouraged, Dr. Waldron and Zann decided to develop the bill as a national one. According to Zann, the bill is broader and more comprehensive than the provincial bill and if passed will be the first of its kind. The bill has received the support of former Green Party of Canada leader, Elizabeth May, and well-known environmental activist David Suzuki.
Dr. Waldron is also creating a national coalition to address environmental racism across Canada with Naolo Charles of the Black Environmental Initiative. The goal of the new coalition is to connect allies, raise awareness and support organizations that are currently working to address environmental racism.
According to Dr. Waldron, one of the coalition’s main objectives is to engage in policy dialogue to encourage the passage of Bill C-230.
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