Last week, I sat down with some elementary students who are members of Inuvik’s climate action group, and one of them made a comment that made me upset.
“I know that we’re always going to be killing the planet, but at least we can slow it down,” said Rachel Blakeston, a Grade 4 student at East Three Elementary School.
Blakeston is nine years old. This is not what kids her age should be worrying about. It should not be up to Blakeston and her peers to have to put the pressure on adults to make environmentally-friendly choices.
But here we are today. Four weeks after launching their climate action group, the kids of Inuvik have stayed true to their word and have marched every Friday to draw attention to their campaign.
People are listening. Mayor Natasha Kulikowski has supported the group every step of the way. Kevin Giesbrecht, the manager of the local Northmart grocery store, met with them and took their concerns over plastic usage into consideration. Thanks to the group’s efforts, Giesbrecht said that he’s willing to ban plastic bags from the store.
It wasn’t a group of educated adults who pushed for this. This was done by a group of less than 20 kids who have a vision of a plastic-free community. Inuvik’s youth are the ones making the change they want to see.
After spending considerable time covering their campaign, I can tell you this is a dedicated and passionate group of kids who will not stop until plastic is eradicated from every grocery and convenience store in town.
Is it ambitious? Yes. Is it achievable? Yes. Will it be easy? No.
The group recognizes how difficult this fight is, yet continue to stand up for what they believe in. It’s inspiring to say the least. Not only because they’re pushing for a good cause, but because they refuse to give up despite the odds and how little support they have.
These are more than just “youth don’t know very much.” These are kids who clearly know what is at stake and are desperately trying to change the narrative. Whether you support the group or not, you have to give them some credit. They may not have the power to completely erase plastic from the face of the Earth, but they do know what they want to see and they are acting upon it.