‘We can’t eat money, or drink oil’: Indigenous teen Autumn Peltier tells United Nations

Chief Water Commissioner Autumn Peltier, from Canada’s Anishinabek Nation, addresses the Global Landscapes Forum, at the United Nations, on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Photo by The Associated Press/Richard Drew

The 15-year-old activist from Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario urged the global community to respect the sacredness and importance of clean water.

“I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, we can’t eat money, or drink oil.”

Peltier spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum, a platform on sustainable land use founded by UN Environment and the World Bank that’s dedicated to achieving development and climate goals.

She used the speech to draw attention to the lack of clean water in numerous Indigenous communities, which she says sparked her activism.

“All across these lands, we know somewhere were someone can’t drink the water. Why so many, and why have they gone without for so long?”

She said she’s been taught traditional knowledge from an early age about the sacredness of water, and that more should learn these lessons.

“Maybe we need to have more elders and youth together sitting at the decision table when people make decisions about our lands and waters.”

Peltier called for an end to plastic use as one step in restoring a more sustainable world.

Her speech comes a day after huge crowds took to the streets in Canada as part of a global climate strike.

The speech was her second at the UN headquarters, having urged the General Assembly to “warrior up” and take a stand for our planet last year.

Peltier, who is nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize by the David Suzuki Foundation, has spread her message at hundreds of events around the world.

In 2015, Peltier attended the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, and a year later, confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his “broken promises” at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations. SOURCE

Indigenous communities need authority over child welfare says legal advocacy group

New report calls for better resources to keep First Nations families together

Indigenous children are 15 times more likely to enter government care than a non-Indigenous child in B.C. (Costea Andrea M/Shutterstock)

The current child welfare system in British Columbia has been called the Millenium Scoop because of the high rates of Indigenous children in care and a new report says the government could do more to help First Nations families stay together.

The report, prepared by Vancouver-based non-profit legal group West Coast LEAF, includes the experiences of 64 parents who engaged with the child welfare system, eight service organizations and three communities on the territories of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, Secwepemc First Nations in Kamloops, and the Fraser Salish People in Surrey.

It recommends that Indigenous communities have authority over the welfare of their children and calls for better resources to establish family support programs in these communities.

“We know that this framework works,” said report author Elba Bendo in an interview on CBC’s The Early Edition. “The problem is that the progress toward shifting authority to Indigenous communities, and funding community-based supports has been incredible slow.” MORE


Jagmeet Singh says he ‘wasn’t joking’ on hoping Donald Trump is impeached

NDP leader unconcerned that hoping for Trump’s impeachment may imperil his relationship with U.S.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tells the audience at his Victoria town hall that he was not joking when he quipped Thursday that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached. (CBC)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told a town hall audience in Victoria that he was serious when he said that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached.

Asked Friday by CBC News if it was wise for someone running to be prime minister to joke, as he did the previous evening, that he hoped Trump would be impeached, Singh replied, “I wasn’t joking.”

The line garnered applause from the audience.

On Thursday evening, the NDP leader said he hopes Trump “gets impeached” when asked what would he say first to the U.S. president if he was prime minister.

“I hope he gets impeached before I get to speak to him,” said Singh, while hosting a town hall event in Nanaimo, B.C. “I say that a little tongue-in-cheek.”

Singh said it is “disgusting that the president could inflame hatred against people and be so divisive.”

“It’s horrible that someone in a position of power like him would allow for kids to be stripped from the arms of their parents, from their moms,” he said. “That needs to be denounced.”

Singh has already heavily criticized Trump for the U.S. government’s separation of migrant children from their parents in immigration detention centres at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“You can’t allow someone like that to do that without any sort of repercussion, without anyone else condemning that,” Singh said Thursday night. “And I condemn it.” MORE

Tax Fairness one of many tools to combat climate change

Carbon taxes are an important part of the broader global solution, such as a transition to renewable energy, needed from all governments. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

At the rapid pace of climate change, rising sea levels will swallow cities whole.  Water sources will dry up, creating food shortages, while air pollution will cause irrevocable health problems. It sounds like apocalyptic fiction, but it’s the stark reality hundreds of scientists warn is coming. Canada’s own scientists agree — 96 percent believe climate change is a crisis that requires immediate action, according to a new poll from the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

The effects of climate change will be felt by everyone, a report from the UN expert panel on climate change confirmed this week. The warning comes on the heels of the UN climate summit, where advocates criticized world leaders for not doing enough to stop the climate emergency. A poll this week from Abacus Data found three in four Canadians support the climate strikes, a series of protests taking place across the globe as millions, many of them youth, protest inadequate response from government.

C4TF adds its voice to these calls, demanding Canada’s government use every policy tool available to scale up efforts against climate change. Continuing our countdown of the top five priority election issues as voted on by our supporters, this week we highlight how taxes play a critical role in combating climate change. Please share our fact sheet, which lists the fiscal steps our next government should take to tackle the crisis. You can also ask your local candidates if they support these measures, write letters to the editor, and sign petitions calling for climate action. SOURCE

Next federal government needs to amend Cannabis Act, say First Nation chiefs

Some leaders worry status quo could lead to conflict

The Pot Shoppe advertises its wares in Tyendinaga, near Kingston, Ont. (Jorge Barrera/CBC)

The next federal government needs to amend the Cannabis Act so First Nations can have jurisdiction over the industry on their territories, to seize its economic potential and avoid potential conflicts, according to some Indigenous leaders.

First Nations were left out of the jurisdictional equation when the Liberal government passed its cannabis law, which put regulation of distribution and retail in the hands of the provinces while Ottawa oversees production.

This left them at the mercy of provincial decisions when it came to opening dispensaries on reserve — a situation rejected by many bands who see provincial governments as interlopers in a nation-to-nation relationship they believe should be strictly with Ottawa.

Alderville First Nation Chief Dave Mowat, whose community near Peterborough, Ont., has 13 unlicensed cannabis shops, said the next federal government needs empower band councils.

“There has to be a political will to amend the [Cannabis Act] so we can have a firmer footing, one that recognizes our jurisdiction and recognizes who we are,” he said.

Mowat said he worries that the status quo would lead to police action and conflict.

“I don’t want to see a raid happen on the reserve. Someone will get hurt if that happens,” he said.

“There are sizeable investments that have been made in some of these shops that could lead to serious altercations if that happens.”

Mowat, who was elected in July, said his band council is working on a law to regulate the industry in the community.

In Mowat’s view, the province has no jurisdiction on his First Nation. He said their law will be as strong or stronger than Ontario’s.

“Everyone wants to live in a safe community and I also want to see the community itself reap some of the benefits as well,” he said. MORE


PSAC rejects Bloc Québécois proposal on federal government services

People hold up signs during a demonstration in Montreal on April 7 in opposition to the Quebec government’s Bill 21. The legislation proposes to ban some public servants from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The Public Service Alliance of Canada firmly opposes the Bloc Québécois’ proposal to restrict Quebeckers’ ability to work in the federal public service, and their ability to receive important services from the federal government –including the right to vote.

Inspired by Quebec’s widely condemned Bill 21, the Bloc’s proposal would force federal government workers to have their face uncovered in the course of their work, and would also force Quebeckers to have their face uncovered when receiving a federal service for identification or security purposes.

The proposal would also significantly limit their ability to vote.

There are broadly no issues with the delivery or receipt of federal services because of face coverings; nor is there any record of widespread voter fraud in federal elections because of face coverings. In attempting to address ‘problems’ that do not exist, the Bloc Québécois has revealed their recent policy announcement for what it is: an attempt at inflaming anti-immigrant and racist sentiment.

It is also clear that this proposal is targeting Muslim women. Any legislation that requires individuals to remove their religious garment is unconstitutional and discriminatory on the basis of religion, race and gender. Furthermore, this type of legislation would deliver a dangerous precedent in which a government can dictate what a woman can or cannot wear.

The only thing this proposal will accomplish is the increase of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, racist, and sexist sentiments, as well as incidents, both in the workplace and outside of it.

Federal public service jobs are good for the economy and workers, study finds

CFIA worker

Hiring more federal public sector workers would benefit the Canadian economy and support a strong, diverse middle class, a new study suggests.

A study released by l’Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) proves it’s time the federal government reinvests in stable federal jobs that anchor Canada’s economy. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government slashed more than 25,000 federal public service jobs in 2011, and according to the study, our economy still hasn’t recovered from that loss.

“The findings are clear; a strong federal public sector helps drive Canada’s economic growth for the benefit of all,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada national president. “Our next federal government needs to make a firm commitment to bolster our public service and provide dependable, good-paying jobs to Canadians.”

Every dollar spent on federal public service jobs generates on average $1.77 for Canada’s economy, and they further benefit provinces that have less diversified economies like Alberta and Nova Scotia.

“These findings are very important in the face of successive governments that continue to increase the contracting out of public service jobs, creating lower wages and more unstable work for Canadians,” added Aylward. “The government needs to reverse course and bring these jobs back into the public service.”

IRIS also found that public service jobs contribute to eliminating gender and racial inequality. SOURCE

Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrum

Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrumCredit: Monash University

Hydrogen gas is the perfect green fuel—it can be extracted from water and is non-polluting. But although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it doesn’t naturally occur in large quantities as a gas on Earth.

Hydrogen gas is the perfect green fuel—it can be extracted from water and is non-polluting. But although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it doesn’t naturally occur in large quantities as a gas on Earth.

The race is on to find cheap, efficient, non-polluting ways of generating and storing hydrogen. It’s long been known that an electric current will cause the elements of water—hydrogen and oxygen—to split to produce hydrogen and oxygen gases in a process known as electrolysis. This process can also be reversed to generate electricity when hydrogen and oxygen gases interact in a fuel cell (NASA has used fuel cells to power satellites and space capsules since the 1960s).

Until recently, the cost of electricity has been a roadblock to producing industrial quantities of hydrogen gas through electrolysis. But low-cost renewable electricity technologies have removed this barrier.

Another obstacle is that efficiently splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gases has required rare and expensive metal catalysts such as platinum and iridium. Iridium is one of the rarest and most costly elements on Earth—it’s often carried here by meteorites. And even the most stable iridium-based catalysts can only withstand electrolysis for a short time.

“If you increase the temperature while running water electrolysis, the iridium-based catalyst will dissolve and you lose it,” explains Dr. Alexandr Simonov from the Monash School of Chemistry. “This is the worst thing that can happen, to dissolve something that costs hundreds of dollars per gram. It can also go into other components of your electrolytic device, contaminating them and preventing them from proper operation.”

The first water electrolyzers used alkaline water, and this remains the traditional approach, Dr. Simonov says. But more advanced and efficient technology uses an acidic environment, using solid-state electrolytes—unfortunately, the catalysts can’t withstand this environment for long.

Dr. Simonov and members of his research team, including Dr. Manjunath Chatti and James Gardiner, have made a discovery with enormous potential to solve the instability problem, making hydrogen generation by water electrolysis more economically viable.

“We’re replacing iridium with elements that are abundant, cheap, and operate in a more stable manner,” Dr. Simonov says. “We’ve demonstrated their stability in very strongly acidic conditions and up to 80°C, which is an industrially relevant temperature. We achieved absolutely no degradation.”

Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrum
Hydrogen-powered buses are on the road in Brazil. Credit: Monash University

Dr. Simonov describes the system he’s developing with his team as “self-healing.” Because all metals—even iridium—dissolve during electrolysis, the researchers wondered if the dissolved material could be redeposited on the electrode during operation.

“It turned out that it can,” he says. “We’ve produced a highly active electrode surface based on abundant metals that is sustaining industrially relevant rates of water splitting.” The high temperature and the strongly acidic environment “makes our most recent work different from pretty much everyone in the scientific world, and brings us closer to industry application,” he says.


Paul Andersen: Climate is the Civil Rights of today

Childrens Crusade
In the year 1212, tens of thousands children, put down their ploughs, carts, the flocks they tended, claiming it be God’s will, and joined the Children’s Crusade to the Holy Land.

Greta Thunberg’s youthful innocence while protesting environmental degradations is akin to the innocent faces of the Children’s Crusades from the Middle Ages. How pure and desperate are these missions of youth.

Greta’s cohort of young, worldwide climate activists has swelled into the millions, rising up in a challenge against ecocide in the same way the Civil Rights movement challenged the status quo of racial tension that continues to embroil America.

When Martin Luther King wrote his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he brought to bear the moral and ethical underpinnings of Western civilization, in particular decrying the “white moderates” who understood the gravity of racism but failed to act.

Image result for martin luther king birmingham jail

“History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily,” impugned King. “Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.”

So it is that Greta challenges today’s environmental moderates who recognize ecological threats but fail to act, resulting in threats to the dreams of future generations. Thunberg’s soft, piping voice is as much a clarion call as MLK’s sonorous baritone in defending basic human rights in the face of social disregard for an imperiled future.

MLK recommended four steps for activism: 1) Collection of the facts. 2) Negotiation. 3) Self-purification. 4) Direct Action.

Greta and her peers have checked off the first three and are now engaged in direct action. Hopefully, with the moral authority of youth, they can effectively change hearts and minds.  MORE

Mighty Greta motivates massive Montreal climate march

Greta Thunberg shows her sign, Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate) at the Montreal climate march on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

When it was announced a few months ago that Swedish activist Greta Thunberg had accepted an invitation by Montreal-based environmental activist student group La Planète s’invite au Parliament to march as part of a global climate strike, we all knew it was going to be momentous.

Yesterday’s “Fridays for Future” was largely expected to be the largest climate change march in the country. According to the organizers, not only was it the biggest protest in Quebec history, it was also the biggest climate protest worldwide this month.

Half a million people descended on the streets of Montreal on Sept. 27, the organizers said, to call on politicians to do more to tackle climate change.

Crowds gather for the climate march in downtown Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

​​​​​People of all ages and all backgrounds gathered

In anticipation of the big day, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced that public transit and bicycle sharing system Bixi would be free for the day, in order to encourage everyone to leave cars at home and join the march.

Several school boards, universities and other educational institutions in Montreal cancelled classes. Many businesses also closed their doors for the day, encouraging staff to attend the historic event.

I was already in the metro, on the way to the climate march, by the time I absentmindedly looked down at the cup of coffee I had picked up in a hurry at my local café.

The cup was recyclable, but the plastic lid was conspicuously not. I hadn’t even made it to the march, and I felt like I had already failed the credibility test.

Perhaps events like these are primarily aimed at forcing us to take a good, hard look at our own harmful habits, shaming us into action.

By the time I reached the Sir-George-Étienne Cartier monument on Avenue du Parc, at the foot of Mont Royal, I knew this event was going to be both huge and diverse.

People of all ages and all backgrounds were gathered, patiently waiting for the start of the march. More kept coming and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Greta Thunberg signs the Golden Book at Montreal City Hall alongside Mayor Valérie Plante on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

‘Learn to change, or learn to swim’

The student contingent was everywhere — and it was loud. Dancing, chanting, carrying loudspeakers and drums. Some of the signs were caustically angry, some were hopeful, and most were humorous with a level of creativity that was highly entertaining:

“Learn to change, or learn to swim”; “I ditched school because you ditched my future”; “Maybe if it was called Father Earth, you’d give a shit”; “What use is a diploma if I don’t have a future?”

A young, shirtless man perched on his friend’s shoulders had “Winter Wear 2030” scribbled on his bare chest in black marker.

There were multiple signs reminding us that Greta is vegan, asking, “Do you really love hamburgers more than the earth?”

Our Canadian tendency to apologize occasionally slipped out. “Sorry for the inconvenience, we’re here to save the world,” said another sign.

Environmental advocates hold up signs during the march in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

Festive mood, but gravity of moment understood

I find myself at the tail end of the march. During the long wait at Avenue du Parc to get going, I watch everyone around me. Despite the impossibly crowded conditions and the accidental elbow bumping, everyone is in a jovial, festive mood.

I watch as a group of young teens pull and prod at a Liberal campaign poster featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that’s attached to a light post and then, with one final jerk, manage to remove it. I see the poster disappear into the crowd amid loud cheers. I see that happen twice more.

Virginia Champoux is marching with her two teenaged girls. She says she’s here because “the level of changes we all have to make are a lot bigger than just plastic straws and taking the bus.”

While they do what they can to make a difference — eat less meat, reduce and reuse, have a hybrid electric vehicle as a family car — she doesn’t think it will be enough. “The Amazon is burning, the ice caps are melting, and not enough people are concerned.”

Sarah, her sixteen-year-old daughter is carrying a sign that says, “I will clean up my room when you clean up your shit.” She says she’s here to remind people that climate change is happening and that we need to fix it as soon as possible. She also wants to hear Greta speak.

NJ, her 14-year-old sister says that older generations don’t seem to be thinking enough about younger generations and how they will be living in a polluted environment. “We’ll have to pick up the slack if we still want human life in 100 years,” she says. “We will be voting soon, and we need to look at politicians who will help our country pollute less.”

A senior woman marching quietly behind me with her friend refuses to give me her name but tells me her age: 77. When I ask her why she’s marching, she quickly replies: “Guilt, I suppose.” She tells me that, when they were around the age of the students marching, they were oblivious to the problem.

“We’re leaving a mess for them. I have grandchildren who live in coastal areas…this march is for them.”

The crowd chants during the Montreal climate march on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

‘I am marching for the youth and their dreams’

Holly Friesen is a professional landscape painter. Her work, featuring depictions of forests, lakes, and trees, is a celebration of the world’s natural beauty. She’s used her skills to paint a large colourful canvas protest sign that politely says: “Do everything YOU CAN with everyone to CHANGE EVERYTHING you can.”

“I’m marching for the natural world and non-human species who have been considered inert commodities instead of the living, sentient beings they are, for far too long,” she says.

“I am marching for the youth and their dreams and I’m marching for unborn generations who have a right to coexist with this magnificent planet as much as us. I want to see a complete overhaul of the system and the way things are currently done.”

My attempts to live-tweet the march keep failing as the cell network is overloaded, but I still manage to catch a glimpse of a few drone shots posted by Radio-Canada and CBC on Twitter.

The aerial views of the throngs of people marching down Avenue du Parc are awe-inspiring. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’m a tiny dot somewhere in that mighty mass moving along at a snail’s pace.

People have been marching for hours and I barely feel like we’ve moved more than 500 metres. It makes me proud that Montrealers have come out to make such a strong statement, but I’m starting to feel a little claustrophobic.

The aerial views of the throngs of people marching down Avenue du Parc are awe-inspiring. Photo by Josie Desmarais

Trash piles did not materialize as predicted

As a neuropsychologist, Vivian Akerib is focused on mental health – her son’s and the world’s. “I’m here because I have a son and I want him to have a future,” she says.

“We are ruining, not only our physical health, but our mental health as well with our actions. It’s all connected… how we take care of earth, how we take care of the animals, it affects us all. I know my son is worried and I know he’s serious about change.”

Asked if she thinks any of this will make a difference, she quickly replies, “Oh, I certainly hope so!”

“I hope this isn’t for show and I hope things change. I see young people suffering from eco-anxiety these days…we didn’t even study this in university, this is new. I’m not even sure how to treat it. I can’t think of anything worse than young people feeling despondent and hopeless. We need for things to change.”

Despite the cynical comments I saw on social media, predicting that marchers would leave behind a wake of garbage that city workers would be forced to clean up, I saw the contrary.

Two young people with garbage bags are busy cleaning up garbage that I’m positive has nothing even to do with this march. I see no signs of littering or careless, entitled behaviour exhibited. Even the Montreal police and public transit workers are on their best behaviour, smiling and patient in a way I wish I could see more often.

Rows and rows of Bixi bikes are lined up near Pine Avenue, and it’s obvious that Montrealers have heeded the mayor’s call to use them to get to the march. A Bixi brigade is standing guard over the bikes that keep piling up.

I know Greta doesn’t like depictions of her as a heroine, because she’s always urging us to save ourselves, but someone goes by me with a large, beautifully illustrated poster depicting the climate activist as Joan of Arc.

Greta Thunberg addresses the crowd in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

Greta depicted as Joan of Arc

Her stance in the image is warrior-like, her gaze piercing and steadfast. It’s a gorgeous image and it manages to communicate Greta’s laser focus and quiet determination that endears her to this crowd. They see her as someone who is genuinely fighting for a cause worth supporting, against all odds and all derision by men in power.

In a press conference before the march Greta is asked by a reporter: “Why do you think grown men in powerful positions are so afraid of you?”

“I don’t know why grown-ups would choose to mock children and teenagers for just communicating and acting on the science, when they could do something good instead,” she replies.

“But I guess that they might feel like their world view or their interests are threatened by us. And that, we should take as a compliment, that we are having such an impact that people want to silence us.”

Greta spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau privately ahead of the rally. After her meeting with Trudeau, who also walked with the crowds and his family in the Montreal march, Greta told reporters, “my message to all politicians is the same. Just listen to the science, act on the science.”

An anti-pipeline protester later attempted to throw eggs at Trudeau but was quickly intercepted by his security. Quebec Premier François Legault did not attend the march.

Greta Thunberg spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau privately ahead of the rally on Sept. 27, 2019. The prime minister also marched in the crowd with his family. Photo by Josie Desmarais

Canada’s climate reputation means ‘nothing’

Before we begin marching, Greta receives a gift from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who greets her as a “young warrior lady.”

Greta asked Indigenous youth to lead the Montreal march because “Indigenous people have for centuries and millenniums protected the local environment…they are at the front line, so we need to be able to hear their voices.”

Despite her young age, Greta seems incredibly aware of her privilege, and using every opportunity to point the spotlight at other activists of colour and amplify their voices.

The four-hour-long march along a four-kilometre route from Jeanne-Mance Park to Old Montreal ends with a rousing speech by Greta, who’s greeted by the huge crowds with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for rock stars.

Smiling shyly, she utters “Bonjour, Montreal” and then proceeds to list the ways Sweden and Canada are similar. Hockey, pine trees, moose, and cold winters, if you’re interested.

Then, her tone takes a serious turn and we’re quickly reminded why politicians fear her and why activists respect her.

“You are a nation that is allegedly a climate leader; Sweden is also allegedly a climate leader,” she says. “In both cases, it means absolutely nothing.”

A thunderous roar erupts from the crowd. “In both cases, it’s just empty words.”

Greta Thunberg receives a gift from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who greets her as a “young warrior lady” on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

‘We are the change, and change is coming’

The message the young environmentalist wants the political establishment to remember is simple: “We will not be silenced.”

She reiterates that throughout history, significant change has always come from the bottom up.

“If the people in power won’t take their responsibility, then we will. It should not be up to us, but somebody needs to do it. This is an emergency and we cannot be bystanders. We are the change, and change is coming.”

Everyone cheers again. The numbers start trickling in and she announces that 6.5 million people marched around the world for climate action. Montreal’s protest is confirmed as the largest in the country.

Was the “Greta factor” instrumental in getting this many people out? There’s no doubt. But those on the streets sound purposeful and committed to change. They were inspired by Greta, but actively looking for local solutions to a global crisis.

An attendee of the climate march holds up the peace sign in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

Montreal mayor calls Greta ‘trailblazer’

Claudine Bonner isn’t a Montrealer. She’s a professor at Acadia University, in Nova Scotia, visiting the city. But since she’s here, she decided to attend the march. She’s listening enthralled to Greta’s speech, like the rest of us.

She believes that every generation has a moment, a tipping point where they need to face the enemies of their time. “For our parents, it was civil rights and the women’s movement,” she says.

“For our youth, it’s the Earth in crisis. What we’re doing is making and has made a difference. Now we need to make governments listen.”

After her speech, Greta quickly made her way to Montreal’s City Hall where she met with Plante, the mayor, during a brief one-on-one private meeting.

Introducing her to the media, Plante refers to her as a “trailblazer” and then presents her with the keys to the city, an honour only seven people before her have been given in Montreal’s history.

Greta is quite diminutive up close and it’s astounding that someone so soft-spoken, so unassuming, has become such a role model for so many and such a target of vitriolic scorn for climate-change deniers.

She signs the Golden book and shortly after quietly slips out from the back while young activists waiting for her yell out that they love her.

Smiling shyly, she utters a barely audible “thank you” and proceeds to walk towards Champ-de-Mars metro station, on her way to most probably much-needed rest.

One can’t help but wonder how many times Greta has repeated this routine, and how many times she’s expected to repeat it in future. Photo by Josie Desmarais

The sign that started it all

It’s already 6:30 p.m. and it’s been an incredibly long day. One can’t help but wonder how many times Greta has repeated this routine, and how many times she’s expected to repeat it in future.

Even for such a young person, the energy and focus it requires must be exhausting.

I watch her walk away, a tiny figure next to the tall police officers walking alongside her. She’s still holding her sign with “Skolstrejk för klimatet” scribbled on it tucked under her arm.

That sign that started it all…the one she held during that first protest in Sweden all alone, the one that sparked a global movement. SOURCE