By Monique Vigneault

Students chant “No pipeline!” at climate change strike in Queen’s Park on March 15, 2019. (Monique Vigneault/Ryersonian)

The roar of protest was audible from Queen’s Park on March 15 as hundreds of students skipped school to participate in a global climate change strike.

This new wave of global “school strikes” was spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish high school student who stood at the steps of the Swedish parliament and held the first school strike last August.

“You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes,” Thunberg said last year in a call to world leaders.

Thunberg has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and her school walkout has sparked a global initiative. These walkouts have previously been held under the names of “Fridays for Future,” “Youth for Climate” and “Youth Strike 4 Climate.” They have been held across Canada and almost 100 other countries.

Vincent, 10, and his sister Charlotte, 13, who’d rather be referred to by first name only, skipped school to protest. Vincent says he fears that climate change will impact the planet indelibly.

“I’m scared of the fact that like, this planet can be different than it is now; that it can be gone,” Vincent said.

Vincent said he is scared for the future of the ozone layer but proposed ways to stop its depletion.

“The one thing is right now we use rockets that shoot in space, and every year they deplete the ozone layer by 0.03 per cent,” Vincent said. “In the future, we can use things like mass drivers that only use electricity and don’t use fossil fuel.”

Charlotte, 13, and her brother Vincent, 10, hold a sign that says, “I like cheese, not climate change. It better be stopped!” at the climate change protest in Queen’s Park on March 15, 2019. (Monique Vigneault/Ryersonian)

Some activists like 16-year-old Crimson Carvello said they hope to see more awareness on the agricultural industry’s role in climate change. He said he wants to see more control in the food industry.

“I feel like a lot of people talk about climate change but they don’t talk about the whole aspect of animal agriculture and how much it is affecting the earth.”

According to Statistics Canada, 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the agricultural industry. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are emitted from crop and livestock production.  

Many veterans of the climate change movement, like John Bell, an activist from Socialist Worker, came to support the youth initiative.

“I’ve been doing climate activism for quite a while. But today specifically, I’m mostly here to shut up and listen to young people,” Bell said. “This is their day, it’s going to be their world, their problem.”

However, among other longtime activists like Rene Epacher and Dewan Afzar, who have been protesting since 2008, there’s a sentiment of pessimism over the continued lack of government action.

“We hope that they’re going to do something but personally I think it may be too late. We’re trying to do what we can do, but we don’t have any help from the governments. Now it’s time for the young,” Epacher said.

Epachier said he continues to rally in hopes for “the future of the species and the future of mankind.”

This is a joint byline. Ryersonian staff are responsible for the news website edited and produced by final-year undergraduate and graduate journalism students at Ryerson University. It features all the content from the weekly campus newspaper, The Ryersonian, and distributes news and online multimedia, including video newscasts from RyersonianTV. Ryersonian.ca also provides videos, images, and other interactive material in partnership with the School of Journalism.

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