Youth Gathered in the Cold for the First Climate Strike of the Year

It was cold, colder than it has been really at any point during this winter season, but that did not cool the passion and enthusiasm of the 50 to 60 people that took part in a Climate Strike to demand action by the government to protect our environment and start undoing the catastrophic effects of climate change.

The Youth Climate Strike organized the noon-hour demonstration in front of City Hall on Friday, and the majority of those who attended were young people from area high schools and the University of Guelph. City Councillors Leanne Piper, Rodrigo Goller, and Dominique O’Rourke were also there to lend support to the youth, while their colleague James Gordon was one of the demonstration’s two musical performers.

“The one thing I’m looking at here is the generational gap, and it’s inspiring what our youth are doing,” said Gordon, who told the crowd he was still 22 years old at heart. “It’s to my great dismay that my generation seems to be leaving it to your generation to do something about climate change when it’s my generation that screwed it up for you.”

“People are surprised that youth are revolting but it’s not because we want to, it’s because many of us don’t know how or don’t know any other way to fix what we see as a problem,” said Indigo, who was one of the handful of youth speakers at the protest. She’s not yet 20 years old, but she’s already thinking about what the world will look like when she’s 30.

“It’s our future and it’s not as simple choice of living a sustainable life or not,” she added. “We are protesting, challenging and fighting because we don’t have any other options and at the end of the day, I am motivated by that challenge, by all of you, and by the consequences I see coming if we fail.”

Urgency seemed to be a theme. Already this year, a group of climate activists shut down a downtown intersection in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en territory who are trying to stop the constriction of a natural gas pipeline from proceeding through their territory. As the RCMP look ready to remove Indigenous people from their territory, one of the speakers said they sensed a common theme in the need for climate action.

“With all these issues, the one problem that unites these problems is capitalism, and the one solution to that problem, we believe, is revolution,” said Nate of the Revolutionary Student Movement.

“If you want to fight climate change, you need to fight capitalism,” he added. “We absolutely can do better. We have the technology to feed, cloth, house and provide energy for everyone in the world, and still significantly cut back on our environmental impacts. The reason we don’t do that is because of capitalism.”

Another speaker agreed with that assessment saying that the governments at all levels in Canada know the science and they know impact of current policy, but action is still hard to come by.

“They know how fossil fuels contribute to the greenhouse effect in global warming and the impacts of warming, and yet despite this knowledge, they refuse to act. Instead, they give excuses, cater to industry and greenwash policy,” said Saffron, a high school student who’s spoken before at climate strikes.

“I want to live in a world with the climate that my grandparents grew up in, a climate that was stable, repetitive and safe,” she added. “It was a climate that they robbed me the privilege of ever experiencing. We are angry, we feel this betrayal very deeply, and we witness it every time we walk outside.”

After speeches, the group marched around downtown to make some noise and raise some awareness, while organizers promised that there will be more climate action to come in the weeks ahead.

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