Sterling Rouse, left to right, Jessica Lowry, Denise Lowry and Marina Rouse march from the Nanaimo City Hall steps during Saturday’s climate rally. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo rallies for climate action

Fourth in a series of protests held Saturday at Nanaimo City Hall

Climate strikes are finished for the summer, with school out, but climate protests will keep happening.

A climate rally was held Saturday afternoon on the lawn of Nanaimo City Hall, the fourth in a series of protests in recent months. There were speeches on the steps of city hall, a march around the downtown and then a potluck lunch.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly of the Green Party and federal candidates Bob Chamberlin of the NDP and Michelle Corfield of the Liberal Party attended the rally, but the only politician to speak was Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools trustee Jessica Stanley.

Deraek Menard, one of the organizers, said the purpose of the rally was to inspire awareness and action and demand government action.

“I don’t want to disparage any of the sacrifices or victories that were made by past protest movements, but this time is completely different from every other protest that’s ever happened,” he said. “Because this isn’t a fight for human rights and rights of individuals. This is a rebellion against extinction. Because the science is crystal clear that if we don’t do an abrupt 180, we are going to actually go extinct.”

Menard said protesters are asking for governments to tell the truth about the ecological crisis, stop subsidizing fossil fuel and other “carbon-intensive” industries, stop old-growth logging and clear-cutting, and move to carbon neutrality by 2030. He said the federal government’s intention to use fossil fuel-related revenues to support renewable energy might have been well and good 20 years ago, but “we’re out of time.”

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Organizers of Saturday’s climate rally asked those in attendance to each bring three friends to the next rally Aug. 5 to continue to grow the grassroots movement. Menard said he and other protesters support participatatory democracy such as citizens’ assemblies as a model to make change.

“The more people get involved in these kinds of things, the more they care and the more we can actually build the world we all want to live in,” he said.

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