Elementary students challenge Quispamsis town council on climate change

Grade 5 students from Ecole Des Pionniers in Quispamsis, N.B., petitioned town council to sign the Citizens' Universal Declaration of Climate Emergency. Andrew Cromwell/Global News

Five Grade 5 students at the École des Pionniers Elementary School in Quispamsis, N.B., have made a pitch to town council on the issue of climate change.

The students are asking the town to sign the Citizens’ Universal Declaration of Climate Emergency. They feel the time to act is now.

“Our planet is technically in danger, and we need to change it now before it’s too late,” said student Diego Arseneault.

“It’s going to be our world, and if we don’t make change now, it’s going to be too late by the time we’re in charge,” added Leah Doucet.

The students took turns over a 10-minute period to make the case for signing the declaration. They referenced events close to home, like record flooding in the spring of last year, as a potential sign of things to come. These pre-teens say they’re already concerned.

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“I’m worried about our future and I want other people to have a good life and not have to worry about the future,” said Arseneault.

The town doesn’t sign declarations as a matter of policy but did recognize the declaration and invited the students to work with the town’s climate change committee.

“I really think that they understand what we were trying to say and that we all hope that every human has a happy planet and there’s a better world,” said student Jacob Somers.

Grade 5 student Chloe Ryder added: “I think that at least we put the word out and that they’ll think about it.”

The school’s principal says they were hoping council would have signed the declaration right away but is encouraged moving forward.

“We’re very open to the idea of discussing this with them and giving them the right arguments to actually step up and sign and align with us,” added Anik Duplessis.

The mayor says the students certainly made their point.

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“We feel that this is extremely important and we want to make sure that we do this and work with the schools and the community,” said Mayor Gary Clark. “We certainly are forward-thinking in the town, where we already have started this in 2018.”

At the end of the day, the wish is quite simple, according to student Isabel Cormier. “It’s really important for everyone to live a happy life and including the earth — to live a happy life.”

Halifax and Vancouver are the only two major Canadian cities to have signed the declaration. Several communities in Quebec have also signed.

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