Critique of an Academic Article

Published: 2021/11/08
Number of words: 910

A research conducted on environmental racism in the town of Shelburne, N.S by Professor Ingrid Waldron and Juliet Daniel of McMaster University revealed that the high cancer rates in the region might be attributed to the exposure of the people to years of toxins from a recently closed dumpsite. The authors borrow information from the Nova Scotia Virtual Museum of Canada, Kathy Johnson’s research on environmental racism, research from the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health Project (the ENRICH Project), and the Netflix documentary, There’s Something in the Water; Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities (Waldron, & Daniel, 2021). The Virtual Museum of Canada provides a background on the settlement of black loyalists in Shelburne County, N.S. The areas also consisted of indentured servants and new arrivals (Virtual Museum of Canada, 2001). Kathy Johnson shows concern about the environmental damage the burning of waste in the area has had on the residents, primarily those of African American descent. The research shows that the dumpsite has operated for decades and was closed in 2016. However, the paper indicating the dumpsite closure has encountered wear and tear from the weather and leaves a wooden sign claiming that the site is operational. This issue raises concern among residents of Shelburne Town. The ENRICH Project, which has conducted research in the area, shows that African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities are more susceptible to waste dumping than other people in the region, and these actions have contributed to the increased rates of cancer and respiratory illness. The Netflix documentary has been vigilant in creating awareness concerning the health risks faced by the Shelburne residents following the existence of the dumpsite. The article also acknowledges the efforts of the Nova Scotia MP Lenore Zann, who introduced a bill in Parliament that is towards its third reading in the fall of 2021.

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The argument attempts to provide a deeper understanding of the high rates of cancer in African Nova Scotia, and Mi’kmaq communities caused majorly by the exposure to toxins that the people have experienced since the 1940s when they opened. Environmental racism is a term that describes the out of proportion disposal of pollutants in Indigenous, African-American, and marginalized communities (Little, 2016). The researches done on this area indicate a direct relationship between cancer and exposure to pollutants. However, this argument seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the concept in relation to other factors that may contribute to the high rates of cancer in Shelburne Town. The researchers understand that environmental exposure can react with other biological and genetic factors to bring the prevalent health issue. It also seeks to understand the social determinants of health, including income, lifestyle factors, gender, race, and access to health care. Understanding these issues is crucial to the academic field, which seeks to bring about change and policymakers who will properly formulate policies that will protect marginalized communities from future risks of caused illnesses. It is crucial to attaining the specificity and details of such a complex issue to avoid making erroneous judgments that would lead to a continuation of the problem.

Furthermore, the research aims to inspire future research in other marginalized communities outside Nova Scotia that suffer similar consequences from environmental exposure to toxins. Its multi-dimensional approach is particularly significant in uncovering the factors that lead to increased health issues in communities that live close to landfills, pipelines, and petrochemical facilities. Finally, it will contribute knowledge to the existing field of systematic racism that is vibrant in Canada.

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The presented argument is strong because the premises are true, the information is relevant, and the logic is valid. The first premise is environmental exposure contributed to high cancer rates. This information is found in research provided by the ENRICH project, which provides a direct relationship between the two variables. The second premise is that there is a dumpsite in Shelburne Town, which has been there since the 1940s. The communities in the region are mainly African Americans and Mi’kmaq, and they have shown an increased prevalence of cancer. This dumpsite has toxins, as has been revealed by the research done by Kathy Johnson and the Book featured on the Netflix documentary aforementioned (Johnson, 2021). The final premise is that Shelburne Town has toxins that contribute to the high rate of cancer. The truth if this information is found in the numerous pool of evidence provided ranging from the ENRICH Project to the book; there is something in the water, and the effort by the Nova Scotia MP to pass a bill that would reduce environmental racism. Finally, the argument is vital because it is logically valid. The authors go the extra mile to expound on other issues contributing to cancer in the region. They seek to explain the contribution of genetics, lifestyle factors, and other determinants of health towards the high rate of cancer. The study is multi-dimensional and aims to provide knowledge to an entire field that focuses on systemic racism in Canada. Therefore, the argument is solid and valid.


Johnson, K. (2021). Former Shelburne town dumpsite ‘a ticking time bomb in the Black community’ says SEED. Saltwire.

Little, W. (2016). Population, Urbanization, and the Environment. Introduction to Sociology-2nd Canadian Edition.

Virtual Museum of Canada (2001). Black Loyalist Communities in Nova Scotia.

Waldron, I. & Daniel, J. (2021). Environmental racism: New study investigates whether Nova Scotia dump boosted cancer rates in the nearby Black community. The Conversation.

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