Four-year-old Jonah Arbez holds a protest sign at Friday’s Strike for Climate on the steps of Nanaimo City Hall. (COLE SCHISLER/Black Press)

Nanaimo youths strike again to call for climate action

The Strike for Climate returned to the steps of Nanaimo City Hall on Friday, May 3

Strike for Climate returned to the steps of Nanaimo City Hall for a second time.

The protesters were emboldened following city council’s declaration of a climate emergency. Despite the declaration, protesters continued to demand concrete action to combat climate change.

“Words don’t always equate to action,” protest organizer Emma Simard-Provencal said. “We can’t just say that declaring a climate emergency is enough… They always tell us we need to petition them, lobby them, send them letters, come to meetings, and tell them what we want, because if they don’t know what we want then they won’t be acting on it.”

Simard-Provencal became active as an organizer following the first strike on March 15.

“That only ran because someone made a Facebook page, there wasn’t really any sort of organization that went in to it,” she said. “All you had to do was make an event and people showed up, so it showed that there was support in the community. I just wanted to get more involved to help the next one happen and help that keep happening.”

Simard-Provencal helped to organize a list of speakers for the event that ranged from local youths to representatives from environmental groups, including Simon Minkow, a Grade 9 student from Cowichan who created a petition to lower the voting age to 16, and Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island campaigner for the Wilderness Committee, an organization dedicated to fighting for a healthy climate.

“I’ve been doing this work for most of my 20s, and to see young people stand up in their mid-teens, early-teens and younger, fills me with pride, and fills me with hope for the future,” Coste said. “So much of the problems that we face in our communities are because we don’t look forward enough. The youngest in our societies are looking forward because they have their whole lives ahead of them.”

A contingent of students from Dover Bay Secondary School were also in attendance to show their support for climate action.

“I’ve always wanted to participate in politics,” student Ben James said. “I think the youth are a lot more capable of making informed decisions than some adults think. I just want to be able to get my voice and the number of people that agree heard, and noticed.”

The students in attendance were present at the first strike as well, and say they’ll continue to attend climate strikes for as long as the problem persists.

“I feel like we’re helping a good cause. We’re not only supporting our future, but billions of people’s futures,” student Adam Walker said. “As long as one country’s not co-operating, the entire world suffers. That’s a guilt that I don’t want to be thought of our country. If we can get Canada to co-operate, more countries will follow suit.”

While the emphasis was on youth, peoples of all ages attended the protest, including byelection candidates Bob Chamberlin of the NDP and Paul Manly of the Green Party. Chamberlin chose not to speak at the event, but both expressed joy at seeing young people being politically involved.

“I want to applaud the youth that came out to organize this,” Manly said in a speech. “Thank you for being active. Thank you for being engaged. This is what you need to do to change the world.”

Another climate strike is planned for May 24 that will include a sustainability-themed picnic after the event. Organizers hope that more people will come out to show their support and get connected with community efforts to fight climate change.

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Kolby and Carter Myden lift home-made signs.

Dover Bay students at Strike for Climate.

Protestors hold signs while Allison Walters speaks.

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