“Climate change is the monster under our bed that we were told doesn’t exist,” said Katia Bannister, 15, at the Youth Climate Strike for Action on May 17.
She told the hundreds of people who gathered in Duncan City Square for the event that young people can’t be expected to watch the world fall apart and have no say in it.
“You’re never too young to fight for your right to live,” she said to applause.
The Cowichan Valley chapter of Earth Guardians, a youth-lead international organization working to help preserve and protect the planet and its inhabitants, led the Strike for Action, which attracted students from schools all over the Cowichan Valley, as well as many adults who came to support their cause.
A worldwide youth climate strike was held in many countries around the globe on May 3, involving more than one million young people.
Many of the students that gathered in City Square answered the organizers’ call to walk out of school to participate in the strike and to take a stand against climate change.
Breanna Regan, a student from Frances Kelsey Secondary School, joined dozens of others at the sign-making tables at the strike to express her opinion on a cardboard sign.
“I think it was necessary to walk out of school in support of this cause,” she said.
“We have to protect the planet and change the way we do things, and it’s important we get the word out.”
Organizer Sierra Robinson said she was “excited” to see so many people join the strike, which saw a number of speakers and musicians perform before dozens of people began marching through the streets of downtown Duncan chanting slogans and spreading their message.
“The only way we can make progress is if we all work together across the generations,” she said.
“We keep hearing scary news and statistics about climate change these days and it breaks my heart. Many species are going extinct and that’s the just the tip of the iceberg (and we’re not expecting many of those to be around by the end of the century either) of the problem. The planet is being murdered and we demand that climate change be treated seriously.”
Sonia Furstenau, the Green MLA for the Cowichan Valley who attended the strike, said raising awareness about climate change is “incredibly important”.
“These kids are standing up and speaking out for their futures, and they need to be listened to,” she said.
“There’s been a failure by our political leadership on this issue and these students are demanding that our leaders stand up and do something. I’m delighted to stand with the young people on this issue.”
Robinson said the Earth Guardians want to carry the momentum from the successful strike forward.
“One of our next initiatives is to work to protect our local forests, which are being over-logged in many areas,” she said.
“The youth in this area intend to step up and get more involved in saving the forests.”