I am a Ph.D. candidate at Daniels Forestry in the University of Toronto. As a recent immigrant, my research was spurred by readings on immigrants and people of colour in developed nations and their absence from natural-settings, nature conservation and nature-based recreation. How can this absence be explained? My research investigates inclusion and exclusion in community engagement in Toronto’s urban forest with a focus on recent immigrants. Through an exploration of various community engagement practices employed by diverse players I examine issues of environmentalism, inclusion, exclusion and diversity, nature and culture, place and placemaking, belonging and identity, as well as race and space.
As an environmental science graduate from India who has worked with urban, rural, and indigenous (Adivasi) communities I have, over time, learnt to examine my identity and privilege (at times, the lack of it) in the context of where I work. Currently working on community engagement in urban environmental education and stewardship, my view from both sides of privilege, helps me push for inclusion of not just people of colour, but also for the diversity of their ideas, perspectives, and values in the field.