Deborah McGregor

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice

Tier 2 - 2017-11-01
York University
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Research involves

Spelling out the laws, norms, protocols and customs that are needed to advance environmental justice theory and Indigenous governance.

Research relevance

This research has significant ethical implications for the practice of sustainability, as well as for environmental governance and justice in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Environmental (In)Justice: Theory and Practice

What does the term “Indigenous environmental justice” mean? What frameworks inform Indigenous understandings of environmental (in)justice in Canada? How do First Nation peoples envision justice? When is environmental justice achieved?

These are some of the research questions at the heart of Dr. Deborah McGregor’s research.

Although environmental justice only recently gained traction as a field of study, the concept is not new to Indigenous peoples, who already have highly developed ideas of justice that extend well beyond the commonly accepted views of peoples’ relationships to the environment. Merely incorporating Indigenous perspectives into existing environmental justice frameworks is not enough.

As Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, McGregor will carefully document Indigenous understandings of environmental justice as they extend from Indigenous ideas about governance, law and practices. Drawing on her many years of collaborative research with Aboriginal organizations, First Nation governments, environmental NGOs, and other university- and community-based researchers, her program is built upon genuine and meaningful connections with Indigenous communities.

McGregor and her research team will move beyond the tendency to conceptualize Indigenous peoples exclusively as victims of environmental injustice. They will lay the groundwork for a distinctive environmental justice framework firmly rooted in Indigenous intellectual traditions.

Such a framework will not only make Indigenous peoples active participants in environmental justice studies, but will give them the tools to make inroads in their struggles for environmental justice on Indigenous territories.