Youth group Fridays For Future Toronto organized a climate strike on September 23, an event estimated at 3,000 participants, to draw attention to a global climate crisis. At the city level, participants say the event was an example of positive action, although there is always more to be done.
The day of climate action was coordinated with global parent group Fridays For Future (founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg), strike organizer Chloe Tse said. The group organizes international activist events twice a year, in autumn and winter, always on a Friday.
The protest started on the University of Toronto campus and ended at Nathan Phillips Square.
The Toronto Chapter’s demands include a 60% reduction in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a divestment from fossil fuels into clean, green energy, and equity at the forefront of climate action. The full list of his demands can be found on his website.
Tse noted a “larger coalition” this year, including adult allies such as religious groups and unions.
She noted that it can be difficult to organize a big event like this while balancing university work and a part-time job, “but there are still young people doing it.”
“Nobody wants to organize a strike… but we feel that we really have to be there.”
According to initial reports, the event drew around 3,000 attendees, she said.
Tse also noted that the group’s commitment is not difficult to maintain, as members see the crisis unfolding every day, especially for members from the Global South.
Participant Susan Bakshi said she felt this engagement in the atmosphere, with young people of different ages and sectors present and the moving speeches and camaraderie that really hit her hard.
In particular, Mohawk activist Layla Staats’ description of her arrest during a coastal pipeline protest in the west coast territory of Yintah prompted Bakshi’s 7-year-old son to ask: “Mom , is this a true story? Bakshi also cited Staats’ Aboriginal song and her sharing of the Mohawk word of love, which was repeated in the crowd, as things she will always remember.
“She ended it with all that anger and fear, which won’t cause any change, it will be love that will bring the changes we need to see.”
“The reason I go to these things, I don’t necessarily think I’m going to go and Doug Ford or Justin Trudeau is going to say, ‘Hey, look at those people over there; we’re going to take action on the climate,’ but it’s about knowing you’re not alone, letting young people know that we care about their future,” said Bakshi, who regularly attends protests and works as a communicator. on the climate. “It’s so cathartic for someone who works for climate all the time, who gets all this pushback, to have a place to go and gather and shout these chants and say we’re here to make a difference. “
Asked about the trace of cynicism in her statement, Bakshi said that in all honesty she does not know if the protests will produce change, but that ultimately it could plant the seeds for future activism and put pressure on elected politicians as more and more people learn about the issues.
Her motivation comes from her motherhood.
“I brought (my children) into this world, and I need… to be able to look them in the eye one day and say that I did everything I could to make sure that you have a life you deserve.”
As for what she would like to see from the city, while she said she was happy with climate strategies like TransformTOshe said there could be faster movement toward an active, transit-focused transportation plan, land reclamation for public green spaces, and better urban planning to reduce sprawl and increase densification.
“We have to make sure that we elect councilors and mayors who are going to keep moving forward.”
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Alice Chen heard about a climate strike and wanted to know more about the motivation of the organizers and participants, as well as what else the city could do and has done to bring about change in the global climate crisis.