Last week the Aster Group hosted a Green Resilience Project community conversation for residents of the Tantramar region, a stretch of south-east New Brunswick surrounded by the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Straight. Much of the region is below sea level, but has historically been protected from flooding by a system of dykes built by the Acadian population in the seventeenth century.
But as extreme weather becomes more frequent and sea-level rise continues, concerns about flooding, supply-chain disruptions and infrastructure loss are growing among residents. That’s part of the reason why local environmental consultant Margaret Tusz-King organized the community conversation—to bring community members together to talk about the links between climate, income and building community resilience in the Tantramar region.
Tusz-King and conversation participant Saly Davis recently spoke with CHMA-FM’s David Gordon Koch about some of the concerns and solutions community members discussed.
Davis said that since moving to New Brunswick about a year ago, she has already noticed the effects of extreme weather events, including the risk of flooding impacting the Trans Canada Highway and the railway line. As most food and resources have to be trucked into the region, the threat of access cutoff is accompanied by fears of rising costs of living, economic precarity and resource scarcity.
Davis pointed out that poor economic conditions often lead to racist scapegoating of immigrants and people of colour, further exacerbating the challenges facing already-vulnerable populations: “We can’t even focus on the problem of climate change if we’re having the problem of general survival [in] a population that is deprived of…basic human rights.”
Tusz-King pointed out how our ability to adapt to climate change is closely tied to our income. “The effects of climate change are going to affect all of us,” she said. “But when you have enough money, you can manage….When you don’t have enough money already, that’s the tipping point.”
She said solutions identified at the community conversation were related to the need for better public understanding of the urgency of responding to climate change and income insecurity, so community members can advocate for better environmental and economic policies.
Conversation participants also recognized Tantramar’s strong network of social capital as an asset to this work. “We have an ability to mobilize a lot of people,” Tusz-King said. She stressed the importance of bringing groups together to talk about the issues of climate change and income security beyond silos, and pushing for investment in the systems that will allow everyone to be resilient: “change happens when people lead it,” she said.
You can listen to the full interview here (beginning around 3:26).
Featured image: Chris M Morris