This past Friday, an estimated 3,000 people braved the Saskatoon cold and gathered in front of Saskatoon City Hall to participate in the Global Climate March inspired by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
A large number of school-aged students took to the streets wielding signs depicting memes and pop culture articles speaking out for climate justice. Though they are young, these children are calling for action from a government they believe to be complicit in the destruction of the environment.
“The reason we’re protesting is because obviously [the] adults haven’t really taken action, so I’d like them to almost learn from us,” said Olive Watts, a 12-year-old protester.
Climate action was their main demand, but some of the child speakers brought to light other issues they feel aren’t being taken seriously by the government. Tommy Douglas Collegiate student Anastasia Furmanic spoke out about the cuts made to Saskatoon Public Schools, totalling $5 million this year alone.
“We needed education to be funded fully so that our population can learn about issues such as climate change and challenge governments when we feel they’re not behaving appropriately for their age and social standing,” said Furmanic.
She also noted that though the government has the power in this situation, issues regarding the climate involved all members of society. The inception of a youth climate council in Saskatoon was also announced.
“Not only is this a call to action for policymakers but it’s a call to action for every citizen in Saskatoon. We will be moving forward with the creation of a youth climate council which will start up in November of this year. All students are welcome to take part in this process,” said Furmanic.
According to 15-year-old youth speaker Lauren Wright, the committee will tackle issues such as the protection of the Northeast Swale, the promotion of renewable energy legislature and accountability of local businesses and administrations.
This local youth climate council is only one of the many similar committees springing up all over Canada and the world.
Children are taking charge and fighting for their future, and Greta Thunberg, whom Wright referred to as “an example of the power of individual activism and the limitless potential of youth”, is only one of them. In Canada, we have 15-year-old clean water advocate Autumn Peltier of Wikwemikong First Nation.
In the United States, 12-year-old Amariyanna Copeny — also known as Little Miss Flint — has been fighting the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, since 2015. New York-based teen environmentalist Xiye Bastida has also been leading climate marches and lobbying her government into action after experiencing the effects of climate change first hand in her hometown of San Pedro Tultepec, Mexico.
With a future so unsure, kids all over the world are putting their childhood on pause to fight for the change they deserve. Until the adults who have the power to make a change start doing so, the children’s marches will continue.
Tomilola Ojo/ Culture Editor
Photos: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor