Several hundred environmentally conscious students and other like-minded adults turned out on Friday for a march through Yellowknife’s downtown.
The rally, which some students called a strike, culminated with a noon-hour protest rally at Somba K’e Plaza on the shore of Frame Lake beside city hall.
The demonstrators were part of a world-wide protest to denounce a lack of action on climate change.
Students were given the time off school to engage in the event with the blessing of school administrators.
The enthusiastic protesters carried signs and banners and chanted slogans.
There were several themes but the most dominant one was that humans only have one planet and if we don’t protect it from climate change now than little else will matter.
Niav Cudmore-Lynagh is a student at St Pat’s and was one of teenagers taking part.
“It is about raising awareness for our climate strike which is about trying to ensure that the future will be more bright and positive than it is right now,” she said. “The problem is definitely about greed and bigger corporations thinking that money is more important than saving the earth for future generations and helping people.”
Niav’s classmate Molly Gillard said she never though twice about taking part in the rally.
“This is about our future, my future. It’s about raising awareness. I understand this isn’t going to happen overnight but the more people are educated about this than the sooner people will come to realize that we need to get on this. We need to take action.”
Another student Makenna Genge says she’s aware that climate change is being felt more here in the North than elsewhere but that’s not the critical issue here.
“I feel that instead of splitting it into north, south, east and west, we need to remember this is affecting all of us. I was looking at my mom’s graduation pictures from 20 years ago and I was thinking what if my kids aren’t safe enough to be able to do that? What if I can’t give the same experience – looking at my graduation pictures to my kids?” she wondered. “We are advancing in many ways – racial segregation, the gender gap. There are many areas where we have made advancements but it’s important to keep pushing. If we don’t, we’ll get stuck.”
Student Vivianne Pauze says that she was been nothing sort of inspired by Greta Thunberg, the teenage student from Sweden who has spearheaded this climate change movement among young people around the world.
“I think it’s amazing. It’s really inspiring to see that she did it, so I can do it. The more people who get involved, the more impactful the movement will be and the more people it will reach. Greta started this and probably didn’t think it would get this big. She did it for herself, for her friends, her family and the people she cares about. That’s inspired us to think about our future and how we want it to be better for us, our children and future generations. We have to have a world to live in.”
Thunberg joined in a climate change protest in Montreal Friday.
There were other protests in the North including ones in Inuvik and Hay River.
The Yellowknife protest was organized by the students themselves as well as Dene Nahjo, an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of Indigenous people in the North as well as Our Time – Yellowknife, the local chapter of an national organization dealing with issues that affect young Canadians, and young people around the world.