Landing : Athabascau University

Unit 8. Sacrificial Zones

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By Sydney Carroll February 12, 2024 - 1:26am

There is a neighbouring town just east of Halifax is the community of North Preston which is considered a food desert. This term is used to describe an area where there are no grocery stores within a specific area of the town. A number of years ago a Sobeys grocery store pulled stakes out of town and nothing replaced the need for fresh produce for the residents of North Preston. Even still many people without the ability to drive 20 plus minutes to the nearest store are reduced to shopping at gas stations and eating fast food (Rent). The grocery store chains do not see this predominantly black area as a place of value and thus, the health and wellbeing of North Preston residents suffer. 

Laura Pulido says that it’s necessary for the wealthy and corporations to pay their share in taxes to pay their share and social services need to be offered. The sacrificial zones in North America have historically comprised of  Black and Indigenous. Meaning that their wellbeing and their contributions are no valued equally to those of white communities. Moreover, the areas around these communities can be bought for cheap and sold to developers for production facilities, waste water treatment and dumps. 

Growing up in Chicago I was able to see first hand what environmental racism and I whitnesed what sacrifical neighbourhoods looked like. I was fortunate to go to a well funded highschool that had many students receiving scholarships to the best universities in the country. There were often stories of classmates who were living with aunts and uncles to attend my highschool because their parents couldn’t afford to live in the zip code. Years before I attended my highschool, a black athlete was recruited by my school to run track. This student had their living expenses paid for in our community so they could participate in my high school's track program and have the opportunity to have scouts attend their tournaments. The idea of removing children from their homes and communities to be transplanted in a wealthy area and be exploited athletically didn’t seem jarrying to the students who recounted the story to me. As a Canadian, seeing how drastically the neighbourhoods of Chicago were divided was startling. I had never experienced such division between people and I seemed to be one of the few people who felt uncomfortable by it at the time. It would only be a short drive out of town towards the South-side of Chocago before you would start to see waste treatment facilites and run down neighbourhoods. For an area like the greater Chicagoland, there are railway yards and factories located in some of the poorest areas, where land is cheap and the outward appearance or curb appeal is not considered. 

To remove some of these areas of production would likely lead to a loss of jobs for residents who may struggle to find alternative work. It would impact our ability to have factories and refinement near our cities. However, I think we have the ability to remove production from our cities and relocate to areas without communities. This may come at an increased cost to consumers as the cost of transport would most likely be built in to the cost of goods, but it would ensure that all communities across Canada would be valued the same, have the same access to education and value their contributions to society equally. 

At present, Canada imports much of its goods so this change to industry would only impact a small portion of our goods being developed domestically. We will also have to consider replacing factories with alternative forms of employment for communities who live near production areas. Ideally these alternative industries would be more environmentally friendly. In terms of dealing with pollution and waste, we would have to design better ways to remove toxic by products of production. Moreover, we would have to learn with more expensive pricing to incur the cost of procution ensuring fair wages. We would have to turn to a cyclical use of materials. 

I think this change may take many years to accomplish but if executed properly, there would be a more even playing field for residents. Students would have access to top educations because there neighbourhoods would be just as ideal to live in as the ones that are currently preferred. People would have access to proper food and their neighbourhoods would be valued areas for new families and services like hospitals, universities and rec centres. Removing the privileges of those living in better zip codes to streamline education and public services is critical. I think it all starts with the youngest generations and giving them access to a healthy environment. 


Work Cited

Rent, Suzanne. “Documentary looks at food deserts in rural, urban communities across Nova Scotia.” Halifax Examiner, 25 February 2022, Accessed 12 February 2024.