May 3, 2019 7:26 pm

Halifax students lead climate march through downtown

Hundreds of students took to the downtown streets Friday afternoon to march for the climate. They called on all three levels of government to take action. Alicia Draus has more.

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Hundreds of students took to the downtown streets Friday afternoon to strike for climate change.

Students first met up at the Public Gardens and then marched through the streets calling for change.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Halifax students demand action on climate change

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Chants of “it’s not too late to change our fate” and “hey hey ho ho climate change has got to go” rang out as they made their way to three protest spots; MP Andy Fillmore’s office, City Hall and the Legislature.

“We chose those locations cause that’s where the people who make the decisions and where the power is,” said Emma Goulden, a Grade 11 student at Citadel High School and one of the event’s organizers.

“We need action yesterday, because we’re already facing the consequences,” said Julia Samspon, another event organizer.

Councillor Waye Mason says he heard the loud noise and came outside to see the protest.

“I think marches are really important for young folks,” he said, “This [issue] has moved people to do school strikes and go out like Greta has started in Europe. I think it’s a global phenomenan and people are paying attention.”

While the strike was organized by students from Citadel High, they were joined by students from other area schools as well as members from the public.

Despite the widespread support, students raised concerns they did not have the support of their school administration.

“When we first approached [our principal] about it in March, he told us protests are not a good thing and we shouldn’t do them,” said Sampson.

That lack of support left one organizer conflicted as he was also recently voted on to student council. His mother Susannah Brown says staff told him that as a representative of the school he was not allowed to attend. In the end, he chose to stay in class.

The school’s principle was not available Friday afternoon, but in a  statement from the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, spokesperson Doug Hadley wrote “we applaud all students who are committed to making a difference, but we cannot support students leaving school unsupervised when classes are taking place and we have responsibility for their well-being.”

Brown attended the event with the rest of her family and says it’s disappointed how staff handled the situation.

“I think they need to be careful with the power that they wield over a 16-year-old school and putting him in such a difficult decision.

But with or without school support, most students say they will continue these protests as climate change is an important issue. The group marched as part of an international climate strike back in March and say there is another international strike coming up at the end of the month as well.

“I don’t necessarily want to take action and skip school,” said Goulden. “I would like to get my education but that’s not an option right now because if we don’t fight nothing will change.”

 

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