Hundreds of Calgary students rally for climate action
CALGARY – Students and protesters hit the streets in Calgary on Friday to take a stand in protest of a lack of government action on climate change.
Despite the wet weather, more than 200 people showed up for the rally on the U of C campus, before a parade down to city hall for a noon rally.
"It's super important that we get people out here, rally behind the message to act on climate change," said Chase Cardinal, with Fridays For Future, "because as of right now, no government at any level is taking action on climate change."
Mateusz Salmassi, with Students for Direct Action, said people shouldn't discount the power of his generation.
"People often don't understand the extent to which a family's children can influence the people who can vote, over several generations," he said.
"Students are often trendsetters. We also have a lot of educational resources at our disposal for action."
After marching around campus, many students headed downtown to join the city-wide 'climate-strike' at city hall.
Candace Cooke and her partner took their children out of school so that they could take part in the rally.
"We want to show that even one person can make a difference," she said. "Yoou should stand up for what you believe in.
"We are coming here to spread the word about climate change and to get the government to listen to us."
The rally outside city hall attracted hundreds of people, who marched through the downtown core, befofre returning to where they started for speeches and songs.
With just weeks until the federal election, student activists are calling for a Green New Deal and demanding climate policies from all candidates.
Their goal is to cut emissions in half in 11 years to avert the worst effects of climate change.
"We are protesting Canada’s current climate policies and hope to encourage politicians to make this a primary policy issue," said graduate student activist Chetna Khandelwal.
"Sustainability starts at the top of the economic hierarchy and the government needs to mediate more to achieve our climate goals."
New climate models show that if carbon emissions continue unabated, average temperatures could rise 6.5 to 7 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Scientists say that, by 2050, there could be no sea ice in the Arctic in the summers, meaning devastation for northern communities and northern animals such as polar bears and walruses.
A global #FridaysForFuture climate strike, inspired by Swedish 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, kicked off last week to coincide with the United Nations emergency climate summit held on Sept. 23.
Friday will see a second strike take place in Canada with marches in 85 Canadian cities .
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Thunberg are attending the rally in Montreal where 300,000 people are expected.
More than 46,000 people signalled on Facebook they plan to attend the event in Vancouver, nearly 11,000 in Edmonton and 5,000 in Halifax.
Some school boards and universities are cancelling classes during the protests or telling students they will not be penalized for missing class during that time.
The Calgary Board of Education treated Friday as a school day like any other.
In a statement, they said, "We are aware of the climate strike scheduled for Sept. 27. This is not a CBE event and as such, we are not promoting it. It is a regular school day and students are expected to be in class, unless excused by a parent or guardian."
Three Canadian retailers will also take part and shutter operations for the climate strike.
The 22 MEC stores in Canada will be closed on Friday until 5 p.m. local time to allow staff the opportunity to participate in protests.
Another Vancouver-based company, Lush Cosmetics North America, made a similar decision. The toiletry maker said it will shut down its 50 shops, manufacturing facilities and online shopping in Canada on Friday in an effort to encourage its 2,216 staff and customers to participate in local actions.
An Indigo Books & Music Inc. spokesperson says the retailer's home office teams in Toronto and Montreal will have the opportunity to participate.
With files from The Canadian Press