On Friday March 15th, I joined a full staircase of students in Edmonton’s climate strike at the legislature. On this same day, students from more than 100 countries around the world skipped school to protest their government’s lack of action against climate change.
The #FridaysForFuture movement was started by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who began holding solidarity strikes every Friday outside her Parliament. The movement is led by students, who know without a doubt that their futures will be defined by our current environmental crisis.
The majority of the people at the strike were high school students. As an undergrad student at her first protest, I was incredibly impressed by the leadership and bravery of these students, many of whom attended against the wishes of their schools and/or parents.
The protest took a strong stance on the interconnection between Indigenous issues and the land, water, and environmental crises. Indigenous students and leaders spoke to the legacy of violence that their communities continue to face, as well as their dedication to preserving the land and healthy living systems for children of all future generations.
Adults did not have a large role in this protest. In fact, #FridayForFutures started from a a frustration with adults’ complacency in the face of climate change. However, groups like Climate Justice Edmonton and Extinction Rebellion came out to provide support and guidance to the kids involved. UAlberta’s own Laurie Adkin, professor of political sciences, gave a speech suggesting specific demands we should make of our government regarding climate change.
What did other UAlberta students think of the strike?
“I attended the Climate Strike because the climate crisis isn’t a far off problem; it’s happening right now! If we’re going to tackle this problem head on, it’s ultimately up to our generation to do it. That’s why it was so empowering to see so many young people in Edmonton, and around the world, take charge and fight for a brighter, cleaner future.”
“It was my first time going to a protest, and it was so inspiring to see all the young people that turned up! The power is truly in their hands to create the future they want to see, and I think we were able to send that message to politicians.”
“It’s great to see youth mobilizing. I am of the opinion that the greatest inhibitor to change is when individuals feel they personally can’t make a difference. My hope is that these protests will not only empower the youth but act as a space where tangible initiatives for changes will be shared, changes that individuals can realistically do to make a difference such as veganism.”
“I think there’s something powerful in the message “we, the children, have to do this because you won’t.” I’m not a child, but this generation, and future generations, are going to experience the effects of a climate disaster far more acutely than the generation making policy decisions, and that’s why I want to support this movement as much as I can. We have to act NOW.”
This isn’t the first, or the last strike.
Edmonton’s students actually has a long history of student strikes. In 2013, hundreds of Edmonton high school students striked at the legislature to protest education cuts “despite warnings from the public school district” (CTV, 2013). This year, students have been holding climate strikes every Friday, even in the dead of winter.
The next strike is scheduled for May 3rd at the legislature (see Facebook event). Will you join?
Blog Team Leader