Was it a way to skip school or a chance to make a change for the future? Organizers sure hope the latter is true because if change doesn’t happen soon there may be no future.
A couple of hundred students, some as young as 10 years old arriving with parents, flocked to the Nelson City Hall Courtyard Monday afternoon to participate in the Climate Change Strike.
The event, organized by Daniela Sirois Ennis and Alyssa Taburiaux, was an opportunity for local youth to tell the establishment they are upset with leaders’ inaction on climate change.
“I’m super excited with the number of people who have come out today,” Taburiaux, 16, told a media scrum following speeches by local politicians. “I think this (Climate Change Strike) is people questioning whether this is the right course of action and what the best way to find solutions are.”
Crowds began forming in front of the sidewalk on Ward Street shortly before noon Monday in front of City Hall and Nelson Courthouse.
Holding signs with messages like, “The Oceans Are Rising . . . And So Are We” and “Which green do you see?” with drawings of dollar signs and trees, students were supported by vehicles honking horns as they drove past the protest.
“Most people are scared because we don’t know what our future is going to look like and it really is our future because we’re the ones who are going to have to live with the decisions that we make now,” Sirois Ennis explained.
The crowd then turned their attention to speakers situated outside the entrance to Nelson City Hall, who urged students to keep the pressure on the decision makers. Those politicians included Nelson City Councilors Rik Logtenberg, Jesse Woodward and Keith Page as well as Constituency Assistant Jaime Frederick speaking on behalf of Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski.
After speeches, the students organized for a protest parade down Baker Street.
“(Daniela and I) met at a conference . . .. Both of us are from different schools and today there are students here from all over the Kootenays,” Taburiaux said. “It would be great if there were groups that started forming at the local schools and we could all work within our communities and then we could come together in bigger events like this.”
Climate Change Strikes have been happening since August 2018.
Other Canadian cities joining Nelson include, Victoria, Vancouver, Nelson, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Sudbury, Vaughan, Belleville, Peterborough, Toronto, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston, Ottawa, Perth, Fredericton, Montreal and Halifax.
“I’m feeling excited because this is a global movement and there are strikes like this happening all over the world,” Sirois Ennis said.
“I think this is a time when the youth are stepping up and people are going to start listening and it’s going to be pretty hard to ignore us. So, this is the time of action.”
The Nelson Climate Change Strike is part of a movement started by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden who scoffs a critics and trolls who say students are best stay in school instead of protesting.
Thunberg’s response — “And what is the point of learning facts within the school system, when the most important facts, given by the finest science of that school system, clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society?”
“One of the things Greta says often is that youth aren’t here to provide the solutions . . . we’re not the scientists, we’re not the experts but this is the time we start listening to the scientists and the experts because there are a lot of people working on really incredible solutions and it’s time to listen to them.”
Sirois Ennis said the youth are not going away, hoping local students participate in the National strike for all of Canada May 3rd.
“There’s lots of cities that are going to be striking on that day.”
Alyssa Taburiaux (left) and Daniela Sirois Ennis were the drivers of Nelson's Climate Change Strike.
Nelson City Councilor Keith Page speaks to the students during Monday's Climate Change Strike.
Some of the many signs urging leaders to take notice of Climate Change.