Toxic Exposures are a Feminist Issue!
Canadian Women against Toxic Substances

Gender, biology and determinants of health, such as socio-economic status, employment, belonging to racialized groups and Indigenous communities, all play important roles affecting Canadian women’s health in relation to exposures to toxic substances. Canadian Women against Toxic Substances are concerned that the present-day laws which oversee the regulation and control of toxic substances do not adequately account for these factors, leaving women and the next generation vulnerable to a wide range of long-term negative health effects.

The foundation of our environmental regulations - The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) - is currently under review by the federal government. A serious reform of this legislation is of vital importance to Canadian women, as workers, mothers, caregivers and for all the other essential roles they play in our communities and in all their diverse realities. It is a question of the most fundamental environmental health justice.

Read further and see how exposure to toxic substances is a feminist issue. You may be surprised to learn among other things, that despite fundamental differences in biology between men and women, animal studies that too frequently relied on male-only models still dominate the scientific evidence.

Click here to learn more

To find out how to sign on, contact us at 514-483-1846 or

Quebec civil society takes a stand on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) calling on the federal government to protect human health and the environment.

Over 80 Quebec groups have signed onto a Declaration that was sent to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change on March 19 with a letter by Jennifer Beeman . This alliance represents a wide swath of Quebec citizens that goes far beyond the traditional environmental movement. They include among others, well-respected research centres and scientists, peri-natality groups, women’s and workers’ groups, shelters and groups that work against violence, collective kitchens, daycares, student, literacy and cultural groups.

The allied groups have committed to supporting the Declaration underscoring important elements of CEPA that need reform, and pressuring the government to follow the recommendations of their own report and bring in reformed legislation.

Read more on how to get involved

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is the foundation of our environmental regulations and it’s currently under review by the federal government. Along with other environmental groups we have monitored this weak legislation for many years. It is in bad need of reform.

It is up to concerned individuals and groups like ours to put pressure on the government to take action.

Click here to read more and get involved.

Why We Need to Reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)

As many of you know, our chemical regulatory system allows chemicals to go into production and circulation without proof of their safety. We are then required to fight a reactive battle, toxic substance by toxic substance, to prove their harm and get them out of circulation and out of our environment. In many cases, our exposure to toxic substances continues for decades after bans go into effect.

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What happens when patient advocacy groups develop financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry? Sharon Batt investigates this in her new book, Health Advocacy, Inc.: How Pharmaceutical Funding Changed the Breast Cancer Movement.

Health Advocacy Inc.: A reading with Sharon Batt at Concordia University
BCAQc is excited to partner with Concordia University's Ageing + Communication + Technologies (ACT) and engAGE: Concordia's Centre for Research on Aging for this event.
Click here for details.

We Moved!

With our lease at the RCA building in St-Henri coming to an end, an  opportunity presented itself to rent offices in the wonderful Maison Parent-Roback, a stone's throw from Metro Parc. So we jumped at it!

We left St. Henri and the historic RCA building on January 12 where we were happy for almost five years and moved to a new home.

If you have tried to get in touch with us during the last month and we have not responded, please excuse us. Our email server was down for a short time over the holidays. Our telephone system will be up and running in a week or so. Luckily we can keep our original phone number: 514-483-1846, the one we have had for over 25 years. In the meantime you can now email us or message us on Facebook. Your patience is much appreciated.
La Maison Parent-Roback, located on rue Jean-Talon in the heart of Parc extension, is owned by a collective of 11 women's groups. Through its members, it reaches more than 1,200 local groups who, in turn, connect with hundreds of thousands of women across Quebec and Canada. So we knew we wanted to be here.

So here we are!

Sabrina Leclerc (our intern this year) draws the winning name

Your generosity continues to amaze us!

We want to say is a BIG THANK YOU! Your donations were incredibly generous this year and it is so encouraging to know that you like what we are doing and support us in our endeavors. Truly, our 2018 activities are going to be very exciting and it is YOU who allows us to do this work.  

And the winner is ...

We just drew the name of the recipient of the Green Beaver gift bag and it's Carolyn Badger. Congratulations Carolyn! Thanks to everyone who participated.

Listen to our inaugural podcast – an interview with Sharon Batt.
Jennifer Beeman asks her some great questions and her answers are passionate and revealing.

Wretched Pink Ribbons. Again.

So here we are again awash in these wretched pink ribbons. They must constitute the most successful marketing campaign ever.

And they are so pernicious. They make us feel touched by and involved in something significant by merely wearing them or buying something with their picture attached.

But what do they say? Nothing, except that thousands of women still go through breast cancer every year. And that is the problem. There is so much that needs to be said that gets buried under the ribbons.

What do we need to be saying?

We need to say that detection is not prevention. Actually bringing down incidence rates has been completely removed from all important discussions. We repeat to women for them to individually bring down their risk without a proper public health strategy to bring down breast cancer rates with a strong, public health program that incorporates environmental health as a central component. Also, in working to prevent breast cancer, we work to prevent a range of diseases.


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Overwhelmed by pink ribbon blues?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month—in case you haven’t noticed, despite pink things all around you demanding your dollars. Breast Cancer Action Quebec is very skeptical of pink ribbon campaigns and the commercialization of breast cancer.

It is well known that companies try to reinforce their image and boost their bottom line by associating themselves with a good cause. But who really benefits, the cause or the company? What if the very products sold—through the promise of finding a cure—are actually contributing to the problem?

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Carly’s Reflection

After spending a year as a volunteer with Breast Cancer Action Quebec, the organization became the site of my practicum placement for my Masters of Public Health degree. I came to BCAQc with a background in exploring how the health of our environment impacts food security and our reproductive health.  I was interested in doing my practicum at BCAQc to learn how to apply my new public health skills to social-justice oriented work. BCAQc represented everything I hoped public health could embody: an empowering approach to holistically confronting some of the most compelling environmental and social issues of our time.

Most of my work centered around the Health Connections youth program, which I assisted in the development of and constructed a program logic model for. I also undertook an impact evaluation, creating a questionnaire to evaluate students before and after the program to assess the impacts we made.

We were interested in evaluating if Health Connections increased students’ environmental health literacy, which is embodied in the development of knowledge about environmental health, positive attitudes towards it, and the skills and capacity to take action to create environmentally healthy communities.

Fighting Endocrine Disruptors, One Lip Balm at a Time
A great article by Carly Welham, master's student in Public Health and intern at BCAQc, explains the politics of "Why We DIY"

Over the past few months, Breast Cancer Action Quebec interns have been holding DIY workshops across universities in Montreal, meeting with dozens of young people interested in creating body products free of toxic substances. We have been hosting conversations about how chemicals in products that we use every day affect our bodies, our health, and our environment.

Our reality is that everyday we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that are harmful to us. As a women's health organization whose mission is to work for the prevention of breast cancer through the elimination of environmental toxicants linked to the disease, there are many reasons why we choose to create alternatives to body products with these toxic ingredients.

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Your Triclosan Actions and the UN on Pesticides

With the arrival of spring, we would like to share with you a round up of some of the environmental health news we are keeping on top of. In a few weeks we will be sending our information on our spring activities. It would be wonderful to see you at one of our events soon!


On March 8th 2017, the UN human rights council made public a scathing report which is very clear: pesticides, many of which contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are harmful to human health and the environment and they are used in the service of industry profit, not to combat world hunger as agro-chemical business leads us to believe.

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Update on Action against Triclosan

Last year we informed you about the actions of environmental and health groups concerning Triclosan. This ubiquitous antibacterial agent is also an important EDC, is ecotoxic and implicated in antibacterial resistance. You told us you were happy to sign onto petitions asking the government to ban this toxic substance from household and personal care products. Here you will find the final statement, coordinated by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), that we and 40 other like-minded organizations signed onto and sent to The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health on February 24, 2017.

read more

Stay tuned to learn about local actions that you can participate in this spring!

Breast Cancer Action Quebec is the recipient of a special gift!

To our delight, BCAQc has been chosen as the charity being honoured at this year’s spring concert of Montreal’s Yellow Door Choir on May 26 and 27, 2017.

Since 1983, this talented choir has been performing and partnering with local charities using their concerts to support and raise awareness for the good work these groups do. And what good company we are in! Take a look at the list of over 60 community organizations  that the Choir has supported throughout its three decades of singing.

Not only does the Yellow Door Choir donate the profits from the concert’s ticket sales to us but every penny that is made during the intermission bake sales is ours too! We will be posting information on how you can get involved by baking your favorite cookies, cupcakes or squares for the bake sale.

So, save the date for this splendid spring event, tell your friends and we hope to see you all there. It will be a double opportunity to hear an ace choir dedicated to the performance of world music in many languages while supporting us at the same time!

Yellow Door Choir, under the direction of the Roxanne Martel

Spring Concert, May 26 and 27 at the Unitarian Church of Montreal 5035 de Maisonneuve O. (Métro Vendôme).  Tickets: $20; Students and seniors: $15

Take a listen to some highlights from last spring’s concert.

Stay tuned for more news about this.

Jennifer Beeman, Director, Breast Cancer Action Quebec
Written in response to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2016

I am in a strange situation. I am director of a breast cancer organization and I really don’t know what “promoting awareness” of breast cancer means.

Does it mean repeating the fact that one in nine women in Canada will receive a diagnosis of breast cancer at some time in her life? Even when this tells us nothing of what is being done to bring down that statistic (very little)?

Repeating “early diagnosis saves lives”? Even though this doesn’t explain to women that early diagnosis leads to a serious problem of overdiagnosis, which women really don’t understand and about which we are doing very little?

Repeating that we should “run for the cure”? Though this does nothing to prevent our daughters and granddaughters getting the disease?

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BCAQc relies on membership dues and private donations to stay in operation. Membership entitles you to advance notice of seminars and workshops as well as a subscription to our electronic newsletter— BCAQc Connected.

A strong membership also helps to substantiate our financial applications for government grants and private foundations. Please consider joining us today!

For twenty five years — with your support — BCAQc has been working hard to get vital information about environmental and chemical links to breast cancer to the public, and we now know that our message is being heard.

We ask you to consider a financial gift to Breast Cancer Action Quebec to help us to continue to get this vital information to the public.

There are many ways you can be involved: volunteer, write a letter to the editor, book an educational workshop for your school, community group or work place.

Engage with us, follow us on social media, share your opinions and ideas – take BCAQc’s message to your community! Be a voice for a change!