One voice called out, “What do we want?” Dozens chanted back, “Climate Justice.” The lone voice asked, “When do we want it?” The dozens yelled, “Now.”
The Red Deer chapter of the Council of Canadians hosted a climate change rally in downtown Red Deer Friday afternoon, where about 50 people marched to bring awareness to climate change and the impact it has on the globe.
“It’s a pressing need. It’s become more of a climate crisis and a climate emergency,” said Christopher D’Lima, chair the Council of Canadians’ Red Deer chapter.
Climate change has “accelerated. Scientific evidence shows that glaciers are melting twice as fast as they thought, the seas are getting more acidic and there’s more environmental pollution.”
D’Lima said Climate Justice Week, which began last Friday and continued to this Friday, was initiated by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist.
He said it’s important to keep a youth perspective in mind when it comes to climate change.
“They are inheriting this world. We are getting older and it’s the youth who are going to be taking over – it’s going to be their world,” said D’Lima.
The climate advocate said he would have liked to see more students from Red Deer schools attend the rally.
“It’s a bit sad because the whole movement has been led by the children. They’re the ones who have been driving this,” D’Lima said.
“We do know that across Canada there’s been hundreds and hundreds of schools who have let their kids out two hours early so they could demonstrate.”
A Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools spokesperson said students were “not discouraged to go” to the event.
Bruce Buruma, director of community relations with Red Deer Public Schools, said there wasn’t much discussion from the district’s high schools about the rally.
“We didn’t promote it or say kids couldn’t go,” Buruma said.
“It was something the individual students would need to pursue.”
D’Lima said everyone needs to make an effort to combat climate change.
“It’s not just up to the leaders, it’s up to each one of us. We are the ones who will eventually be affected by climate change. And that change is happening now.
“We can blame the legislatures and point fingers at those who aren’t doing enough, but it’s really up to us. … Each one of us makes a difference and Greta (Thunberg) is a perfect example of one person making a huge difference.”
People from at least 85 Canadian cities and towns coast-to-coast had planned to walk for climate change Friday, as part of the international climate movement. More than 46,000 people signalled on Facebook they planned to attend the event in Vancouver, nearly 11,000 for Edmonton, and 5,000 in Halifax.
Three of the five national party leaders in Canada also attended Canada-wide marches: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is marched in Victoria, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green Leader Elizabeth May were in Montreal.
– With files from The Canadian Press