“Invisible killers”: The founder of the Canadian Black Environmental Initiative says environmental racism should be a top priority for the social purpose sector — but it isn’t.

“It’s the role of the environmental movement to be teaching communities what the problems are,” Charles says. “Sometimes community members know their problems, but sometimes we don’t, especially when we’re talking about silent problems that are invisible.”

Why It Matters

It’s Black Futures Month, and the future of Black communities’ ability to thrive depends on eradicating environmental racism.

Wildfires, floods, heatwaves — the past couple years have brought climate change’s devastating impacts to the forefront of many Canadians’ minds. But the effects of these disasters aren’t felt equally. 

Black communities in Canada face a paradox. They’re more likely to be deeply affected by environmental threats like air pollution and climate change-induced disasters, but they’re also systematically excluded from the sector best positioned to solve these problems: the environmental sector. 

Enter: the Canadian Black Environmental Initiative. Founded by Naolo Charles in 2019, Charles works — alongside a team largely made up of volunteers — to eradicate environmental racism. His organization runs trainings for Black communities interested in entering the environmental sector, consults with companies wanting to engage Black communities, and generally rai

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