The Environment is Intersectional, a workshop facilitated by Lourdenie Jean, founder of L’environnement, c’est intersectionnel, was held on April 8th to conclude Sustainable Concordia’s Sustain’Alive 2021 free online event series. The workshop was an opportunity for people to learn, exchange, and share their questions on different topics related to intersectionality and the environment
Whether we realize it or not, every problem we face as a society today is multifaceted. Environmental issues are no exception and their impact is often greater in communities who have been systemically oppressed. Environmental racism and food sovereignty are just a couple examples of systems that are jeopardized via environmental destruction within these communities.
The concept of intersectionality was first introduced into academia in the 1980s by Kimberlé Crenshaw, American lawyer, civil rights advocate, philosopher, and prominent scholar of critical race theory. Intersectionality is “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (Merriam-Webster definition, 2021).
The following statement by the Combahee River Collective, which came up in the workshop, is a wonderful way to envision what the application of intersectionality as it is intended could look like: “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”
During the workshop, Lourdenie guided participants through several subjects – all of which brought together the main theme: that the environment is intersectional. If your next question is “how?”, we thought this explanation by Lourdenie was extremely helpful in envisioning the statement: “The environment is intersectional means self-sustainability is a human right/capacity that was stolen by the system. It manifests by the imposition of third parties.”
We learned so much from this amazing facilitator and her workshop, and we hope participants did too! Thank you so much to every participant who joined us for Sustain’Alive 2021. We look forward to continuing this annual series in 2022.
Tiohtià:ke (so-called Montréal) is located on unceded Indigenous territory. It has historically been a meeting place for many nations, with the Kanien’kehá:ka as the stewards. We encourage you to reflect on your current and historical relationship to this land.