Local high school and university students hosted a climate strike to raise awareness ahead of the upcoming provincial and municipal elections, while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.
The protestors came together for the climate strike on Sept. 25 in front of the City Hall, as part of the Global Day of Climate Action. There were about 25 protesters split into two separate groups, wearing masks and physical distancing, to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines regarding public gatherings. Several police officers were also present at the strike.
Elizabeth Walker, an organizer of the event, says that climate change is still a pressing issue despite the pause on local climate strikes during the pandemic. She hopes the government can do the same for climate regulation as it has done for COVID-19 regulation.
“We want to reassure everybody that we’re still here; we’re still fighting for climate justice,” Walker said. “We want everyone to know that [although] COVID-19 is happening, we are still here and fighting for that, because those issues are going to intersect and cause more problems if we only act on one.”
Clarenz Salvador, an organizer and a second-year toxicology student at the University of Saskatchewan, says that climate change and the pandemic are related issues in that their impact on marginalized communities is disproportionate.
“People are being disproportionately affected by the climate crisis as well as the pandemic. And I think that, as activists, we need to address that,” Salvador said. “That means that COVID-19 and the climate crisis are definitely interconnected.”
Natalie Vanidour, an organizer and a first-year health studies student at the U of S, says that climate change awareness and activism has become even more important ahead of the coming elections. Vanidour urges people to vote with climate change in mind.
“It’s important to just look at the environmental policies in there because climate change is really starting to affect the Earth quite drastically and that needs to be acted on urgently,” Vanidour said.
Walker says that given the anxiety caused by the pandemic and climate change, activism can feel isolating.
“We also recognize that [anxious] feelings are very rampant right now because we understand that it’s so easy to feel alone. Like, you’re the only person fighting for an issue,” Walker said.
But for those under 18 who cannot vote, Salvador says that protesting, and showing up to major events, such as a climate strike, is important.
“Simply showing up to protests, or even educating yourself — taking the time to do actual research — that’s more than enough and more than anyone could ever ask for,” Salvador said.
Wardah Anwar | News Editor
Photo: J.C. Balicanta Narag | Editor-in-Chief