Young Canadians are leading the country into the future with their activism, including many right here in Saskatoon.
Gen Z, the generation born in 1997 and onward, has developed a sense of urgency around the climate crisis and has learned to use tools like social media to work towards great progress. Elisabeth Walker is one of the many young people from Saskatoon who is part of the climate change movement. She says that Gen Z is the last generation to “do something before it’s too late.”
“We’re at a pivotal point where we can make measures and take action to prevent it from getting to the point where the planet will no longer be habitable,” Walker said.
Lauren Wright, a high school student at Tommy Douglas Collegiate and one of the regional representatives for Climate Strike Canada, has also been vital to the youth climate activism movement in Saskatoon for the last two and a half years. She grew up hearing about environmental issues, as both of her parents own a recycling company.
Wright says that getting involved in activism felt like the logical next step.
“Like a lot of other young people, I think Greta Thunberg was a huge inspiration,” said Wright.
Wright, along with 14 other young people across Canada, filed a lawsuit against the Canadian government last year with the goal to hold them accountable to implementing and following new policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The case was dismissed upon the first hearing in Sept. 2020, but Wright and the other plaintiffs are currently in the process of appealing that decision.
Walker says that her time spent outdoors as a child blossomed into joining the fight to preserve the beauty she fondly appreciates.
“I’ve always been super passionate about being in the outdoors and in nature,” Walker said.
Wright is a member of the Climate Live Canada team, a group working to put on concerts for climate awareness. The group will hold one concert this month and another in October, to be streamed on Twitch and Facebook.
“We partnered up with musicians to increase awareness of activism and climate issues through the arts, and by reaching different demographics and sharing more about climate change with them,” Wright said.
Wright and Walker are both also involved with the Saskatoon Youth Climate Committee organization. They aim to put pressure on the local provincial and municipal governments to change curriculums and include more climate change and science-based materials.
“We’re [also] looking to produce a podcast with some Indigenous Land Defenders coming up soon, as well as continuing to produce educational resources,” Wright said.
Walker is currently taking her dedication with her into the next stage of her life, as she enters a program for a conservation and restoration ecology diploma at Lakeland College in the fall.
“[Learning] how to restore a depleted habitat from agriculture or someone mining it… My personal next step is turning that passion into a career,” Walker said.
Both activists encourage other young people to act and do what they can to be a part of the solution. Walker says that anyone can be a climate activist.
“You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to have a big audience in order to consider yourself an activist, or somebody who’s actively involved in participating in reducing the impact of the climate crisis,” Walker said.
“That’s what’s important, and what makes you an activist and a maker of change in your life and in other people’s lives, and inspires others to do the same.”