Thousands gathered in downtown Halifax Friday for a climate rally, that was initiated by a group of high school students that were inspired to rise up and use their voices by a fellow teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started the ‘Friday for our Future’ climate protests in Sweden last year.
“What do we need?” A voice rang out from a megaphone as the rally set out from Victoria Park and made its way down Spring Garden Road.
The mass of people replied in unison, “climate action!”
“When do we need it?” The mass repeated, “now!”
Across Canada, climate rallys were being held to make way for a cleaner future, one that relies less on the burning of fossil fuels for energy like coal, in order to drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions.
For the youth in attendance, climate change has become their issue and they are tackling it head-on, as throngs of people snaked their way through the downtown and into the Grand Parade Square for a rally.
19-year-old Madeleine Putnam, a fine arts student at NSCAD, cut class to attend the rally, she says the environment is the most important issue facing her generation.
“This is an opportunity for young people who are not old enough to vote to have their own say and show the Canadian political parties in the run-up to the election that this is something they are really going to have to build their platforms around if they want to have the votes in the future.”
The young people showed up in droves, and they couldn’t be ignored as they led the way at the front of the procession but the crowd itself was diverse –as all generations showed up.
“There are a lot of people of our generation here today,” said Violet Rosengarten. “If you look around I see them all and they are getting on board.”
Alan Collins says many senior citizens are taking up the climate change issue. He says there’s still so much they can do to make this world a cleaner place.
“You can still do something, but now is the time,” said Collins. “So we are out to do what we can. A lot of seniors are taking up the cause and are supporting the young people.”
As the rally continued through the streets, the energy was like a tidal wave spreading the entire way into the Grand Parade Square, where the critical mass gathered for speeches at the steps of city hall.
“I’m feeling pretty hyped up, however, I’m still angry and anxious,” said Putnam. “I hope this energy in the protest translates to more votes and leads to real change.”
Cameron Ough stood along the street with his young one-year-old son Lucas in his arms with a homemade sign. His family made the trip to the rally from Bridgewater, N.S and he was feeling inspired by the sheer size of the crowd.
“It’s a crucial time with the election going on right now and we’re hopeful this sort of thing will catch on,” said Ough. “And hopefully we’ll start to see some action from the top down.”
The awareness is there, says Putnam, it speaks to the volume of people who came out for the rally, but she says now’s the time for action.
“We need to see actual changes happening rather than just words and summits and coming together to raise awareness,” she said.
Its’ the voices like Putnam’s and those here and those that echo around the world during the climate rally that continues to push the issue of climate change.
In Montreal, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg joined a large crowd to march, where thousands more took to the streets to protest climate change and demanding action from world leaders.