Hundreds of university and high school students walked out of class and gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday to join a worldwide movement calling for government action on climate change.
Holding signs reading “There is No Planet B” and “I Stand for What I Stand On,” the students chanted pro-climate slogans along with First Nations members and adults sympathetic to the students’ cause.
Organizers said it was up to the younger generations to inspire action on climate change.
“We want governments to see that this is a crisis,” Grade 12 student and Sustainabiliteens Vancouver organizer Salwa Nimir said. “Especially as youth, it’s really important we make our voices heard on this because we don’t have another planet to go to.”
Students in Vancouver were joined by young people from across the Lower Mainland, Nimir said, with some coming from as far as Squamish and Whistler.
WATCH: Students, youth protest around the world to urge leaders to fight climate change
Two other organizers, Asha and Rebecca, rallied the rest of the students from the steps of the art gallery and thanked them for joining the movement.
“We know it wasn’t easy for some of you to be here,” Asha yelled through a megaphone. “We know some of you had to debate your parents and beg your teachers to be here. But you’re here anyway, and for that we are grateful!”
Following the rally at the art gallery, the protesters marched through downtown streets to the Environment Canada office on Burrard Street.
Similar rallies were held Friday across Canada in cities including Montreal, Toronto, Halifax and Regina. Close to 100 other countries also saw student walkouts and marches.
The worldwide movement was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside Sweden’s parliament last year. Thunberg has since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Nimir said it was worth skipping class to raise awareness of climate change and urge governments to act.
“A lot of us are missing school today, which is important,” she said. “But we also think by being here we will be able to get the government to pay more attention to this and take the appropriate action they need to take to actually solve this problem.”
Vancouver police said the protest was peaceful with no serious issues.
—With files from the Canadian Press