Students in Edmonton are among the thousands of Canadians hitting the streets on Friday to demand widespread, systemic change to halt the impacts of climate change.
Marches are planned in at least 85 Canadian cities and towns as part of an international movement.
In downtown Edmonton, a crowd gathered before marching towards the legislature.
“I’m passionate about it because it’s my future as a young person,” said Grade 11 student Ruth Hopkinson.
“It’s something that all of us do care about. It’s going to be the world that we live in so we need to do good things for the world in Canada.”
“Especially because we’re in the heart of oil country, it’s really hard to convince people, especially in Alberta, to vote more green because a lot of peoples lives are around oil,” student organizer Claire Morrison said.
“But it’s really important that we start transitioning to renewable energy as soon as we can. Because if we wait until there’s only a couple of years left, that transition is going to be rushed and we won’t get everything done as smoothly.”
Watch below: Edmontonians march through downtown as part of a world-wide day for action on climate change. This group is on its way to the Alberta legislature. Carole Anne Devaney is there.
A number of international organizations are coming together for one massive climate-change protest at the end of what they call the Week for Future following similar demonstrations back in May.
The Edmonton event, which is open to people of all ages but was heavily attended by students, started in three different places and converged at the Alberta legislature.
“I think today is phenomenally important,” Climate Justice Edmonton organizer Batul Gulamhuseim said.
“This has been the largest climate mobilization… in history so this is… huge.”
The Edmonton Global Strike for Climate Action saw students meet at Churchill Square and marching at 12:30 p.m.
“I am acting because I am worried about my own future, as well as the future of generations to come,” said organizer Olivier Adkin-Kaya.
“My concern for our planet’s future is something I have in common with the ever-growing group of people who can no longer deny the urgency of the climate crisis,” said Adkin-Kaya, who is also a member of Edmonton Youth for Climate (EYFC), one of the groups that participated in the climate strike.
At the University of Alberta, students began the climate-change walkout by leaving classes at 11:30 and meeting in the main quad, according to a Facebook event.
They marched across the High Level Bridge to the legislative grounds.
Downtown at MacEwan University, students met at the campus clock tower at noon and marched south.
The main rally at the legislature began at around 1:30 p.m. and featured speakers and performers.
“When we talk about cutting our emissions in half by 2030, many people in Alberta take that intensely personally,” said Batul Gulamhusein, an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton.
“But the oil and gas industry has already left Albertans behind. It has trapped us in a boom and bust cycle.”
“Millions of children and students across the globe have been striking on Fridays to demand action on the climate crisis from all levels of government and civil society,” a statement on the Edmonton Global Strike for Climate Action Facebook event reads.
“The international Fridays for Future movement, sparked by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s one-person protest, has gained widespread support from youth in Canada.”
Greta Thunberg began her climate strikes with weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish legislature last year, and in a few months, kids around the world joined her cause. On Monday, Thunberg delivered a scathing rebuke to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City.
Watch below: Greta Thunberg blasts world leaders at UN Climate Action Summit in powerful speech — ‘How dare you’
Some school boards and universities are cancelling classes during the protests or telling students they will not be penalized for missing class during that time.
Edmonton Public Schools is allowing students the option, with parent or guardian permission, to attend the climate-change protests.
Teachers were told that while the board supports students standing up for what they believe in, the climate-change walkout and protest are not school-sanctioned events and that students participating in these events are being neither encouraged to nor prevented from participating by their schools.
Several retailers and workplaces are closing, at least for the duration of the protests, including Mountain Equipment Co-op, Lush Cosmetics and Bridgehead Coffee in Ottawa.
Three federal party leaders will be marching in climate-change events on Friday. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is marching in Victoria, B.C., while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green party Leader Elizabeth May will both be in Montreal along with Thunberg.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will be in Vancouver on Friday and does not have plans to take part in “any climate event,” according to a party spokesperson.
Watch below: Students in Edmonton were among the thousands of Canadians hitting the streets on Friday to demand widespread, systemic change to halt the impacts of climate change. Sarah Komandina has more on the Edmonton rally.
— With files from Mia Rabson, the Canadian Press