“I just couldn’t live with myself knowing these facts and not doing my everything to stop it”
— Aliénor Rougeot, student striker
What if you felt your future was literally going up in flames, but the politicians and business leaders in charge weren’t doing enough to fight it?
That’s the sentiment driving thousands of young people across Canada to rally outside government buildings and corporate centres every week to demand action on climate change, an issue they don’t have the option to ignore.
It’s called #FridaysForFuture, a global movement started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. She sat in front of parliament every school day for three weeks in August 2018 because she felt Sweden needed to do more to tackle climate change. Canada became the third country to hold a rally in solidarity on Nov. 2, 2018.
Within months, students were holding events every week, including several large-scale rallies like the International Climate Strike on May 24, when thousands of youth across the country took to the streets alongside others in 133 countries.
“When we started we were less than 100, but since March 15 we are always above 400,” says Aliénor Rougeot, the 20-year-old University of Toronto student co-ordinating Toronto’s strikes.
As conservative governments and political parties across Canada fight carbon pricing and politicians are accused of dropping the ball on climate change, we asked Rougeot and other young activists what’s at stake, and what action they would like to see leaders take.
Aliénor Rougeot, 20, Toronto
Striking is a disruption of the “normal”, the “usual way of life.” And that’s exactly what we need to make people understand, because if we keep living our lives as usual and acting like everything is normal, we will not have much time left on this Earth.
I am striking because our governments, but also the private sector and many individuals, are not taking the climate crisis seriously. I was born under the threat of climate change and while I was always told to listen to science and experts when it came to everything else, it seems that for climate change our whole world still lives in a haze of denial.
I am also striking because I care very deeply about human rights and justice, and climate change is fundamental a symbol of injustice. It was created by a few and will affect disproportionately those who have not contributed to it. It is going to affect marginalized communities, Indigenous people, lower-income families, and people from poorer countries. Climate change is going to lead to more wars, more water shortages, more floods and fires, and that is going to lead to more refugees and death than we are already seeing right now. I just couldn’t live with myself knowing these facts and not doing my everything to stop it. MORE