"We Are the Movement”: Tkaronto-based Indigenous Youth Explore Environmental (In)Justice

Author: Meagan Dellavilla

With concern for the world they’re inheriting, young people across Turtle Island are rising up to address local and global concerns. Building from a long lineage of resistance, Indigenous youth, whose communities are often the first to face the consequences of environmental degradation, frequently find themselves on the front lines of these battles. And yet, largely across “Canada”, particularly in urban contexts, their voices remain routinely muted. Honing in on the theory and practice of environmental justice – a concept that arguably lays at the nexus of contemporary youth-led pursuits - this inquiry aims to re-center the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous youth who reside in Tkaronto. Weaving together existing literature with the findings of an arts-based workshop series attended by 10 youth, it recounts these experiences in relation to their understandings of enacting change. Emphasizing the cyclical nature of environmental violence, youth point to the importance of land connection, cultural continuity and collaboration in re-establishing balance amongst our relations. Ultimately contending with their capacity as water and land protectors, this papers seeks to advance discussion on how to better support Indigenous youth in their efforts to move toward (environmental) justice while simultaneously striving to ensure that the voices of city-based, Indigenous youth are represented in a parallel pursuit to develop a distinct environmental justice framework informed by Indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), legal orders, conceptions of justice and the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples.

A link to her Major Research Paper can be found at: https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/36016