Thousands gathered at Place du Canada in downtown Montreal on Saturday to sound the alarm on climate change.
The event was scheduled to take place during COP24, the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Poland from Dec. 2 to Dec. 14, with similar marches being held around the world.
In Montreal, the rally attracted concerned citizens and Indigenous leaders from British Columbia and Quebec who are opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline.
“We are fighting for our lives against an oil pipeline project that would expand and go into our territory and be shipped off overseas,” said Khelsilem, a Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson.
WATCH: Montreal’s Climate Clock warns of a 1.5 C increase in global temperatures by the year 2034.
The Trans Mountain pipeline was built in the 1950s, mainly to satisfy domestic needs. It was later retrofitted for export and bought by Kinder Morgan.
The company was hoping to expand the pipeline and boost capacity. However, the pipeline and its expansion project have since been purchased by the federal government.
Despite a victory in August, when the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Trudeau government’s approval of the contentious expansion, Khelsilem says that little has changed.
“We’re waiting to see if the government is actually going to do anything different. So far, they are not,” he said. “They’re not really taking into consideration the impacts that this pipeline and the project would have to our city, to our communities and to our environment.”
For Khelsilem, Saturday’s march was about building bridges and a better future.
“Participating today is really about building those linkages in our country with all the people, all Canadians, all people of the world who care about the future of our climate and standing together to make sure that we fight for the future that we want,” the councillor said.
Pointing to similar goals, Nathalie Roy, spokesperson for The Planet Goes to Parliament, said the citizen-led group was marching in solidarity with Indigenous leaders.
“One of our fundamental demands is that any new oil and gas plans be halted, that fossil fuels be left in the ground,” she said.
Otherwise, Roy warned that Canada would fail to meet targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of the United Nations tasked with assessing the science related to climate change.
Organizers of Saturday’s climate march are urging elected officials to put in place measures that address climate change and the decline in biodiversity.