On November 30th, York University was joined by Zapotec, feminist scholar and University of Alberta Professor, Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez for the inaugural event of 2016-2017 Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) speaker series. This year’s series, titled “Indigenous Women’s Perspective on Environmental Justice”, aims to create a critical link between theory and practice by reflecting on the lived experience of grassroots activists and leaders.
During her presentation, Dr. Altamirano-Jimenez shared stirring information on the ways in which an alleged “sustainable” development initiative has challenged Indigenous rights and sovereignty in the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Oaxaca, Mexico. Further, she discussed the community-led strategies guided by Zapotec conceptions of “communalism”, or “The Good Life”, that have been employed to counter the state-supported initiative. She concluded her enriching talk by drawing parallels on the strained relationship between many indigenous communities and their respective governments, calling on attendees to be vigilant of such marginalization, not just within North America, but worldwide. This event was generously co-sponsored by the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), Faculty of Geography, Faculty of Political Science, and York Graduate Studies.
"The IEJ speaker series seeks to center the voice of Indigenous women and youth and Professor Altamirano-Jimenez offered a much needed international perspective," said Professor Deborah McGregor, who is cross-appointed to Osgoode Hall and FES.
This year’s speaker series, which intends to further explore the concept of environmental justice from the perspective of Indigenous women, is an initiative of the York-based Indigenous Environmental Justice (IEJ) Project. Led by McGregor, the IEJ Project began in 2015 in pursuit of developing a more “grassroots” or community-oriented understanding of environmental justice. The project aims to become a resource for activists, community members, students and scholars in the coming years. Additional information can be found on the project’s website.
Each event in the series will be live streamed via the IEJ Project’s social media channels and/or video recorded for later access. A recording of Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez’ presentation will be available on the IEJ Project website in early 2017.