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Thousands take part in Winnipeg’s strike for climate action

A group of elderly women sing to the crowds gathered at Manitoba's Legislature Friday. Erik Pindera/Global News.
A group of elderly women sing to the crowds gathered at Manitoba's Legislature Friday. Erik Pindera/Global News. Erik Pindera/Global News

Thousands of people — including many students — gathered at Manitoba’s Legislative building Friday calling for action on climate change, joining millions of others around the world taking part in the world strike on climate.

The local event was organized by Manitoba Youth for Climate Action with the support of the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition.

“Countries around the world are asking for bold climate action from our governments,” said Mandalyn Unger, an organizer with Manitoba Youth for Climate Action. “We’re asking for binding emission reduction to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 C and a plan that respects justice for all communities.”

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Protesters met at the legislative building at noon before marching down Broadway to Upper Fort Garry and back to the legislature where speakers and performers were scheduled.

READ MORE: Friday afternoon protest at Manitoba Legislature to demand climate action

The City of Winnipeg expected as many as 10,000 people to take part. Police on scene also estimated around 10,000 people marched.

Similar marches took place in cities across Canada Friday, including Ottawa, where the crowd size exceeded most Canada Day celebrations, filling the streets for more than a dozen city blocks.

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Thousands march on Parliament Hill demanding action on climate change
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The actions were inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who began weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish legislature last year, which over the course of a few months grew into a global phenomenon.

Thunberg, who was in Canada Friday after opening the United Nations Climate Action Summit Monday, joined the Montreal climate protest and spoke to those taking part.

“We are not in school today, you are not at work, because this is an emergency,” Thunberg said.

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“We will not be bystanders.”

WATCH: ‘We will not be bystanders’: Greta Thunberg delivers message to Montreal climate protesters

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The grassroots groups behind the Canadian marches have some specific demands, including refusing any new oil and gas projects and cutting emissions to be just one-quarter of what they were in 2005 by 2030.

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Not everyone in Canada backed the events. In the Alberta capital, several thousand people protested on the lawn of the provincial legislature, but were measured in criticizing things like the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

Here in Manitoba, the provincial government announced Friday it plans to invite young people to join the discussions and decision-making process on addressing climate change, through the creation of a Youth Advisory Council.

“Addressing climate change requires broad action across all economic sectors and collaboration among citizens, business and governments,” said Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires in a release.

“Our youth will inherit the world we leave for them, and we want their voices to continue to be heard as we collectively work to protect and enhance our beautiful province and planet.”

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READ MORE: Winnipeg zoo focuses research on arctic ice, climate change in Manitoba

Squires said the youth council will be made up of Manitobans aged 15-25 and will report directly to Manitoba Climate and Green Plan’s Expert Advisory Council, a group put together to provide her with independent technical advice on climate change.

On Thursday the Winnipeg School Division said it endorses the global climate strike.

“WSD Board of Trustees and Administration hope many of our parents and students are able to take part in this life-changing and globally significant event,” the division said in a statement.

“The September 27 Global Climate School Strike has provided an excellent platform for discussion and learning for children and adults.”

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–With files from the Canadian Press

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