With the Global Day of Climate Action just passing, I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on my time at the Global Climate Strike on September 27th, 2019. Greta Thunberg, a climate change and environmental sustainability activist, led the momentum of the march that took place in many locations throughout the world. The strike I attended was organized by Friday’s for Future, a youth climate-action movement that began in August 2018.

I remember being there like it was yesterday. Among thousands of people, shoulder to shoulder, sweat gleaming from our skin on a hot September day. The irony of thirty-degree weather in late September at a climate change rally was no shock to any of us there that day. It was more reason to endure the heat and stand together for what we were all fighting for—change. It was my first march for climate change and I didn’t know what to expect. There were people everywhere, signs big and small, and helicopters above us filming. I was amazed by the sense of belonging I felt, this is where I should be and this is what I need to do.

The Climate Strike was a wakeup call for me. It was the ground beneath me, and the ancestors before me knocking at my door and stealing my breath away.

There was a stage in front of the parliament building, with a huge crowd gathered around it. The number of children who skipped school to be there that day surprised me. Although I should not have been surprised, this was the entire message behind Fridays for Future. There were people of all different ages, showing their support through signs and chants. The crowd was diverse; I think that’s what made our message that day even more impactful. No matter where you came from, no matter what skin colour you were or what language you spoke, we all had this one commonality—to save our planet. Soon the speeches began, and after every speech there was a round of applause. That day was the definition of a peaceful protest. No anger, no violence, just peace.

Indigenous peoples led the march. They shared their grief and pain that they have endured throughout their lives, which was unbearable to hear. I remember chanting “Justice for Grassy Narrows” a First Nation community in Ontario that has faced devastating health effects from mercury poisoning in their water supply. I remember their cries as they got up on stage in front of thousands of people to tell us their story, in hopes that change would come. It made me question the type of society we lived in, what our values are, and what we choose to fight for. Indigenous peoples and communities are fighting to protect our land, land that we have destroyed and poisoned. From rivers to fields, from oceans to beaches, everywhere we look we see pieces of Earth dying. Grassy Narrows First Nation is just one Indigenous community that was wronged by our government and by us.

Standing with individuals from Grassy Narrows that day made me understand the privilege I have and have had my entire life. The privilege of drinking water without worrying if it could poison me, the privilege of going to school without wondering if I’d ever be able to use the education I am acquiring. I realized I have not experienced the fear that people like Greta and communities like Grassy Narrows have faced when it comes to imagining the future. However, that day standing in that crowd, listening to the voices of so many others, I had felt only a glimpse of the agony they had, and it was terrifying. The Climate Strike was a wakeup call for me. It was the ground beneath me, and the ancestors before me knocking at my door and stealing my breath away. I was gasping for air and I knew that this was exactly where I needed to be—fighting for our future.

One thought on “

  1. Absolutely astonishing, heart-breaking and powerful. Thank you for such a raw post of your experience – this cause not only needs more attention but needs ALL the attention before it is too late.

    Liked by 2 people

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