Children demonstrate for climate future

Awareness needed to reduce fossil fuels, support green energy, activists say

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A noon-hour demonstration was held at the NWT legislative assembly Friday to promote climate justice among politicians and the public. Nearly 20 young people with supportive adults were present as part of a local effort to stand in solidarity with the international Fridays for Future climate justice movement. From left are Sumara Rawat, six-years-old, Grade 1, Sissons, Aenea Rawat, nine, Grade 4, Sissons, Mayah Favre, six, Kindergarten, Sissons, Hilly Scott, seven, Grade 2, Sissons, Maggie Scott, five, Kindergarten, Sissons, Elias Enns, Grade 3, Sissons, Chloe Favre, eight, Grade 3, Sissons, and Beverley Scott, two. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo;

More than a dozen young children took part in a climate justice demonstration at the NWT legislative assembly, Friday.

The gathering was part of a local effort to support the Fridays for Future movement, started by Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg. The movement involves school strikes by students to advocate for climate justice with marches and demonstrations.

A number of adults took part in the Yellowknife noon-hour gathering including Yk 1 Education district trustee Rajiv Rawat, Ecology North executive director Craig Scott, and Teresa L. Chilkowich, an environmental activist.

Young people, who were as young as two and who were mostly from JH Sissons School, were seen carrying makeshift signs with messages like “We Want a Future: Stop Climate Change” and “Listen to the Kids: Save Our Earth.”

Kathryn Walker, one of the co-organizers of the event said the event was only put together this week, but it is intended to raise awareness for the need for politicians to take climate change more seriously through new legislation, reduce and stop relying on fossil fuels, and fund more green energy sources.

No NWT MLA was present on the scene, even though the day was part of a massive global protest. The demonstration came in the same week that Premier Bob McLeod delivered remarks at an Arctic Oil and Gas Symposium in Calgary on March 13. During that event he called on the federal government for increased capital investments to tap into the North’s resources and railed against the federal government, the media and southern, urban Canadians for the slowing of the oil and gas sector.

Kathryn Walker, an environmental activist and co-organizer of the event said it was inspiring to see young people take the lead on the issue. She added that there is plenty of promise from Thunberg’s leadership in fighting for climate justice internationally.

“This is the first Fridays for Future in Yellowknife and it is a global movement to stop climate change led by student activists,” explained Walker.
“When you start investigating  (climate change), it is so depressing that you don’t even want to know. But here, the youth are actually impacting because it is their future. My daughter, who is 15 – what kind of future is she going to have?”

Rawat, who had two children involved, said the group did the best it could to make a presence and support the international movement.

“It was really done spontaneously and as best as we could through word of mouth and much as could be done within an hour,” he said, adding that some families were away or had other plans with their children.

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Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Working in Yellowknife, he covers education-based stories and general news but has also taken other beats in the past, including city hall and entertainment. He is a champion of the printed word and the importance of newspapers. As a board member of the United Way NWT and Rotary True North, he believes in the importance of civic engagement and community building. He spends his spare time with his boxer Sharona. Simon can be reached at (867) 766-8295 and editorial@nnsl.com.

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