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Extractivism, colonialism, and building a health justice movement in Canada

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Dr. Baj Mukhopadhyay. He is a physician and a core activist in the Canadian chapter of the People's Health Movement. They mobilize around a health justice perspective, and work to bring that sort of analysis to bear in a range of social movement struggles, including fights against extractive industries and organizing that responds to the harms caused by colonialism.

The People's Health Movement is a global network of medical professionals, academics, activists, and organizations that first came together at a meeting in Bangladesh in 2000. Initially, their focus was on the failure of global health-related institutions to meet the needs of people in many parts of the world for basic primary health care. That has since broadened to include a recognition of the roots of that failure, and of many other circumstances that are detrimental to health, in the dynamics of global capitalism, as well as diverse efforts to create change flowing from that recognition. There were Canadians involved from the start, but it is only in the last three years that the Canadian component of the People's Health Movement has begun to grow and get more active in a concerted way. In particular, the Canadian group has been very involved in responding to the health implications of extractive industries such as mining, both in the Canadian context and in solidarity with popular movements struggling against Canadian companies around the world. More recently, they have also been laying groundwork to more effectively take up the connections between colonization and health, as well as touching on a wide range of other issues.

Mukhopadhyay is based in Montreal but primarily practices medicine in both First Nations and settler communities organized around extractive industries in northern Ontario and northern Quebec. He speaks with me about the origins of the People's Health Movement both globally and in this country, about the network's activities in recent years around health and resource extraction and health and colonialism, about the strengths and limits of mobilizing health discourse in the service of social change, and about the group's next steps.

To learn more about the People's Health Movement at the global level, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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