Saskatoon youth strikes in a personal battle for climate action.
Around 100 students from Saskatoon elementary schools and high schools gathered by the City Hall on May 3, calling for action on the climate crisis.
For Kate MacLennan, #FridaysForFuture organizer and University of Saskatchewan nursing student, reducing carbon emissions by half within the next 12 years is the target. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 12 years is the time left to act decisively on climate change before its effects become irreversible.
“That is a huge feat. It will take a huge structural change,” MacLennan said. “I think the kids here are so passionate because they know that they are the future of our social infrastructure, and they are also the ones who will be affected if we don’t make those changes now.”
High school students from Holy Cross, Aden Bowman Collegiate Institute, Evan Hardy, Tommy Douglas Collegiate and Centennial, among others, were present at the protest, as well as primary school students from Buena Vista. They chanted “There is no planet b, climate change is killing me,” and “What do we need? Climate action! When do we need it? Now!”
The school strike was part of a global movement called #FridaysForFuture that mirrors 15-year-old Greta Thunberg’s protests in front of the Swedish parliament in 2018. Thunberg was absent from her school for weeks, asking for the government to reduce its carbon emissions in accordance with the 2016 Paris Agreement. Since then, there have been over 2,400 protests of its kind and counting.
The movement calls for youth to demand climate action from their governments every Friday. On its website, the campaign asks, “why study for a future, which may not be there?” and “why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?”
Saskatchewan New Democratic Party leader Ryan Meili attended the rally and talked to students about the province’s use of renewable energy sources. Meili says the crown corporations should play a role in sourcing renewable energy.
“Why doesn’t every one of your school roofs have solar panels on? It doesn’t make any sense. We are wasting all that space, we are wasting all that energy,” Meili said. “Let’s have retrofits to conserve energy, let’s have solar panels, let’s have wind co-ops, let’s have geothermal, and let’s use our crown corporations, SaskPower and SaskEnergy, to make it possible.”
Meghan Crighton, a student from Tommy Douglas Collegiate, says she feels part of something bigger than herself fighting for climate action.
“That is an amazing feeling — to know that I am out here and I am doing something for the whole planet at large, to make a change that needs to come,” Crighton said.
Another strike registered to take place in Saskatoon on Friday, May 24.
J.C. Balicanta Narag / Copy Editor
Photo: Heywood Yu