Environmentalists gather at Victoria Park in London, Ont. for first annual EarthFest

Chalk art leading the way to EarthFest 2022. Kate Otterbein / Global News

More than 100 environmentalists gathered at Victoria Park in London, Ont. on Earth Day to kick off the first annual EarthFest. The park was filled with various vendors, sign-making stations and chalk art to celebrate the day.

“I think it’s really important that people remember the importance of climate action,” said Heenal Rajani, EarthFest Organizer and co-founder of ReImagine Co.

“For the past couple of years during the pandemic, it hasn’t been at the forefront of people’s minds for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, global carbon emissions are increasing year after year, biodiversity loss continues, we’re seeing record temperatures in the Antarctic, and it’s time for us to take action.”

EarthFest kicked off with various speakers taking the stage, including Acting Mayor Josh Morgan, Rajani, and Mary Ann Hodge, another EarthFest organizer.

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“This idea started back in January, I think,” said Rajani. “It’s the first event of this new committee called the Environmental Action Committee. We first thought, well, it’s Earth Day, it happens to be on a Friday, let’s have a small demonstration and do a march around the park.”

At the event, Morgan spoke about the climate emergency action plan recently passed by the city of London and how the environment is a top priority of the city.

“The climate emergency action plan is our new roadmap to addressing both the mitigation and adaptation that needs to be done,” said Morgan. “It builds on our previous work we’ve done to reduce emissions and care for our environment. It’s a bold plan because it has to be. It’s doable because it must be.”

The plan features reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 55 per cent reduction in citywide carbon emissions by 2030.

At the park, a long line of activists marched, with many supporters passing by, honking and yelling.

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One of the many activists taking part was Kelly Moir. She is a longtime environmentalist and is a student at Western University in the Environment Sustainability Masters program.

“It was when I realized that we are part of nature, not apart from nature,” said Moir, about when she became an environmentalist.

“The real thing was the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report in 2018.
Vendors set up at Victoria Park for EarthFest. Kate Otterbein / Global News

Once I read that, I kind of realized how dire the situation is with climate change and I couldn’t stand by anymore.”

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Since environmental issues have been put by the wayside, it has taken a toll on activists like Moir. But she said this festival gave her a burst of energy.

“When you’re on your own throughout the year doing whatever you would consider activism, it can get kind of lonely. When you attend something like this, you just see how many people care. It’s just really inspiring and keeps you going all year round.”

The Environmental Action Committee and the City of London encourages Londoners to continue doing their part to make a difference, even after EarthFest is over.

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