Hundreds of students in Vernon have left their classrooms empty on Friday to call for climate action, marching in lockstep with students around the world.
Throughout B.C., Canada and beyond, the movement spearheaded by teen-aged Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has spread like wildfire. As as it happens – and as Vernon students made clear in front of the Vernon Law Courts on Friday – increased wildfire is just one of the natural disasters they feel is in store for them in the future if nothing is done.
Climate change and environmental policy have emerged as key political issues in the lead-up to this year’s federal election, but for students like Leif LaFrance who are too young to vote, the climate strike is a means to have their voices heard.
“Since I can’t vote, I’m here voicing my opinion, and my opinion at least is that we have to hold it to the corporations that are really making climate change seem like its our fault … who are lying to us and stealing our future away.”
LaFrance and others attended Thursday night’s all-candidates forum hosted by the Sustainable Environment Network Society.
“We talked to Harwinder (Sandhu) and all the candidates. Most of them were supportive of us and a lot of them are coming down today.”
By 11 a.m. there had been roughly 50 dedicated strikers at the courts, but LaFrance said he expected 100 to 200 more to make their way there by noon.
It wasn’t just high school students who got out of class and in on the strike; meanwhile in Coldstream, roughly 50 young students at Kidston Elementary School were out on a strike through the streets in the area, accompanied by teachers and
Holding homemade signs and shouting chants they’d brainstormed throughout the week, the students weren’t camera shy as they spoke about the reasons why they preserving the environment they’ve grown up with is important to them.
“They’re really enthusiastic about the whole thing,” said Danielle Dunsmore, a teacher at Kidston who escorted her students on their march. “They’ve been watching videos around the world from different countries. It’s really important what they’re doing.”
The strike in front of the Vernon Law Courts will run from noon to 3 p.m.