A Park Reading List for Black History Month

February 7, 2022

Park People

Parks are not neutral spaces but places where legacies of colonialism and white supremacy too often perpetuate urban inequity. At the same time, Black and racial justice movements have helped reimagine parks as places where the presence, experiences, and needs of Black Canadians can be visible and valued. 

To recognize Black History Month, we’ve selected some of the content that has resonated with Park People over the past year and work we’ve contributed to that’s helping to center Black liberation in the planning, design, and management of parks and public spaces. We’re grateful to the Black thought leaders and communities that are contributing to a radical rethinking of our parks and public spaces. 

Equitable Access to Urban Parks and Urban Nature:

Race and Nature in the City: Engaging youth of colour in nature-based activities, 2021, Nature Canada

  • An evidence-based, community-informed needs assessment that makes recommendations for meaningfully engaging racialized communities in nature and nature-based programming in urban areas.

Healing Disconnectedness with Collective Stewardship, Canadian City Parks Report, 2021, Park People

  • How reframing our notions of park stewardship can help restore relationships to the land. Parks have become a vital communal space in the COVID-19 pandemic. They appeal to our need for relationships; both to each other in a time of social distancing and to the outdoors as we are asked to stay at home. But we often fail to acknowledge the role of parks in generations of dispossession.

Humber River Black History Walk, Jacqueline L. Scott, 2021, Park People


COVID-19, Racism and Public Spaces


Urban Park Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Are Socially Vulnerable Communities Disproportionately Impacted? Edited by Michelle L. Johnson, 2021, Frontiers in Sustainable Cities. 


Examining privilege and power in US urban parks and open space during the double crises of antiblack racism and COVID-19, Fushcia-Ann Hoover & Theodore C. Lim, 2021, Springer Link


Safe(ty) in Public Spaces


Public Safety at the City’s Core, Jay Pitter, 2021, Azure Magazine


Want safer cities and public spaces? Invest in BIPOC-led work. Lena Phillips, 2021, Safe in Public Space


(Mental & Physical) Heath, Well-Being and Parks:


6 ways to approach urban green spaces in the push for racial justice and health equity, Nahda Hassen, 2021, The Conversation


Green spaces, mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19, Nadha Hassen, 2021, York U


Leveraging built environment interventions to equitably promote health during and after COVID-19 in Toronto, Canada, Nadha Hassen, 2021, Oxford Academics


Social, Environmental and Racial Justice 


‘Without social justice, you cannot have environmental justice’: Making Toronto’s urban forests more inclusive spaces, Ambika Tenneti, 2021, University of Toronto, Scarborough


A question of life and death’: Why climate action must also take racial justice into account, What on Earth, 2021, CBC


Parks Need Leaders of Colour, Canadian City Parks Report, 2021, Park People


Workshops and Webinars to Watch (and Rewatch)


Watch: A Conversation About Racism in the Outdoors, Brentin Mock, 2021, Audubon


How will we ensure equitable access to parks and public spaces? City Talk Canada, 2020, Canadian Urban Institute


Advancing Climate Justice in Parks, 2021, Park People


Change, Hope, and Tension: Perspectives and Practices on Making Green Spaces BIPOC Inclusive, 2021, Park People

In June 2020, Park People also published a list of suggested readings as part of our Racism is a parks and public space issue blog post. 


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