When 16-year-old Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City on her zero-emissions sailboat at the end of August, the Swedish climate activist sent out a rallying cry to her generation. Like the chain reactions she called attention to while speaking on climate change at September’s UN Climate Action Summit, the domino effect that her own advocacy triggered among youth across the world has become an unstoppable movement determined to see governments take action on climate change, as part of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. “The young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” she told world leaders. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you … we will not let you get away with this.”
Fourteen-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor echoed this sentiment when she took the stage at WE Day UN 2019, telling a stadium of her peers, “Without our planet, there is no us … change is coming, whether like it or not.”
Today at Toronto’s Queen’s Park, youth from across the GTA gathered to stage their global climate strike. Bringing attention to the inaction—and outright denial—of climate change by world leaders, tens of thousands of people (many of them youth who would be sitting in a classroom on any other Friday) marched across the city to demand action to save our planet.
The event included one and a half minutes of silence for those who have already lost their lives in the climate crisis (a nod to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which states that there would be increased risks to health, food security, water supplies and economic growth if the planet were to warm 1.5°C), as well as speeches by Dianne Saxe, the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, and Cody Looking Horse, an Indigenous activist who was present at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota during the oil pipeline protests.
At least 85 other marches took place across Canada today, including in Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal, where Greta herself protested. “The world is waking up,” Greta warned the UN. “And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
The youth have heeded her call.
"This is so important to me because it’s my future. At the end of the day, I would like to be living in a world where I don’t need to have to worry about if the air will be clean enough for me to breath."
— Simona Lippa (left), 17, student at Ryerson University with Kristy Nguyen, 18, student York University
"It’s an important issue ... So we thought, if we’re here, we can make a little difference. I hope that we can change someone’s mind about it. If we don’t do anything about it, it’s going to get worse."
— Lara Carter (left), 13, Brianna Motta, 10 and Amani Motta, 12, students at Holy Trinity School
"I want her to be able to enjoy the summer, enjoy the winter, enjoy the fall. I want her to grow up in a place where she doesn’t have to worry about walking outside and breathing. I want her to grow up in a world that is happy and inclusive."
— Sean Sicarb with 8-month-old daughter Reina
"I’m here today just for the sake of our future. We really have to look out for what we leave the next generations and with the path that we’re on right now, we’re not going to leave them with much."
— Will Nixon (center), student at York University
"The earth is our home. Indigenous people have been protesting about the earth and our environment for so long and I think it’s a major thing that finally other people are joining in."
— Emily Goudet-Dick (third from right), 14, representing All Nations Junior from Toronto Council Fire