On Friday afternoon, students from schools across Edmonton swarmed downtown streets and marched for government action on climate change.
At 12:30 p.m., students walked out of class and took to the streets, making their way from Churchill Square to the Alberta legislature building.
The movement is part of Climate Justice Edmonton, and protests could be heard from surrounding buildings.
“We were planning this demonstration before Jason Kenney was elected but now it feels even more urgent,” student organizer Abram Ilcisin said. “We know his policies will make a bad situation worse.
“He is promising to double down on a dying fossil fuel industry and roll back much needed public investment in renewables; this makes me worry whether I’ll be able to find good work in my future” he continued.
“This next federal election is critical and since most of us can’t vote, we’re out here in the streets to have our voices heard,” organizer and Grade 12 student Marko Lytviak added.
“We want to remind every voter and politician of what the IPCC report said — the action we take in the next few years could literally determine our whole future. For our government to not take real action is frankly negligent and cruel to future generations.”
Climate Justice Edmonton said students from more than a dozen high schools took part, with more than 500 students and other supporters attending the rally.
“It’s really cool that everybody is supporting this big cause and that it’s not just something that we’re doing — that the whole world knows it’s a problem and that global warming can be fixed,” Grade 7 student at Victoria School Oliver Marr added.
“Right now, with the current climate crisis, our futures are very uncertain and we want to make sure that we have a say in what our future is going to look like,” organizer and Grade 10 student at Harry Ainlay School Claire Morrison said.
“As youth, we need to make sure our voices are heard and make sure that we get a say in what our future looks like. So, to see so many young people and students come out and want their voices to be heard and getting involved is so great.”
The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.
The march on Friday was part of an international #FridaysForFuture day of action, which have spurred more than 725 strikes worldwide.
One sign at the Edmonton rally read: “There is no Planet B.”
Climate Justice Edmonton’s objective is to have the Canadian government enact a Green New Deal, a plan for a transition that must:
1) Act to keep global warming below 1.5°C by transitioning to a 100 per cent renewably-powered economy by 2030 with net-zero carbon emissions, whilst also following the commitments Canada made in the Paris Climate Agreement.
2) Decolonize the land by respecting the rights, title and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples.
3) End all fossil fuel subsidies and new fossil fuel development and instead use government money to fund renewable energy development.
4) Facilitate a just transition for all workers by providing retraining opportunities, creating new jobs and maintaining pensions for retired workers, by funding renewables, public transit, education and other climate solutions instead of new fossil fuel projects.
5) Promote and engage youth views on the future, addressing youth concerns regarding their and other generations’ futures.