October 16: Does Environmental Justice Work for Urban Health Inequities in Canada?

Does Environmental Justice Work for Urban Health Inequities in Canada?

Dr. Jeff Masuda
Associate Professor and CIHR New Investigator School of Kinesiology and Health Studies and Department of Geography
Queens University

City Talk : Does Environmental Justice Work for Urban Health Inequities in Canada?


While environmental justice has been well established since the 1990s in U.S. grassroots activism, research, and policy, its diffusion across the 49th parallel has been tepid at best. Some scholars have attributed its relative paucity here to historical differences: our more modest civil rights movement, the lack of obvious racial segmentation of our cities, and our ostensibly more inclusive approach to environmental governance under federalism are cited as reasons why environmental justice has not, or need not, be given as much airtime by activists, scholars, and policymakers respectively. To such arguments I say hogwash (or a less appropriate synonym to that affect). In this presentation, I will provide counterarguments to the somewhat dismissive reception given to environmental justice in Canada. I will cite examples from my research that has investigated how environmental justice, and related concepts, have been, and can continue to be, powerful mobilizing tools, analytic devices, and policy frameworks for ground-up efforts to build more healthy environments in Canadian cities.

Dr. Jeff Masuda is a health geographer and specialist in participatory research in environmental health and in equity focused knowledge translation. After obtaining his MSc in Health Promotion Studies and PhD in Human Geography at the University of Alberta, Jeff undertook postdoctoral fellowships at the McMaster Institute of Environment and Health as well as two CIHR Strategic Training in Health Research programs, including the University of Toronto's Health Care, Technology, and Place and UBC's Partnering in Community Health Research. Before arriving at Queen's in 2014, he held an appointments as Assistant (2009 - 2013) and Associate (2013-2014) Professor at the University of Manitoba, during which time he was a CIHR New Investigator in the area of Knowledge Translation. Major themes of his program of research include environmental health justice, health promotion, neighbourhoods and cities, human rights, and health equity.

One of Jeff's primary career motivations is to make environmental health research more responsive to the needs and priorities of society's most socially marginalized populations. Jeff is founding Director of the Centre for Environmental Health Equity, a knowledge translation platform for enhancing linkages between community, research, and policy in order to address socioenvironmental inequalities in health. Jeff is an award-winning researcher and teacher and is well known for his expertise in integrating social theory, participatory action research, and arts aligned research methodologies to gain a better understanding of the social, cultural, historical, and spatial contexts of environmental health problems. His current major research efforts focus on the social and health impacts of gentrification and housing displacement in Vancouver and knowledge translation capacity building in children's environmental health.

For more information visit http://www.cehe.ca/environmental-justice-for-canadian-cities