If you haven’t heard of the climate crisis by now, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock. It seems that, after years of being pushed aside and considered trivial, people are finally starting to take notice. With the rise of activists such as Greta Thunberg, young people have been mobilizing by the hundreds of thousands to demand greater action for fighting against climate change. Driven by the understanding that the action our political leaders are taking — or not taking — is insufficient in combating the rising levels of our oceans and the increasing amount of greenhouse gases in our air, more than a million youth have participated in student strikes globally.
Hosted by Fridays for Future Toronto, the city saw one of its biggest rallies yet on September 27th at Queen’s Park. Over 15,000 attended the rally, including several from each grade at our own Senior School. The event’s main Facebook page promoted the event stating, “We can no longer continue with business as usual. This is a crisis. Our governments need to treat the climate crisis like the emergency it is.”
The event began at 11 AM with demonstrators gathering at Queen’s Park to protest and listen to guest speakers, such as indigenous activist Cody Looking Horse.
This was followed by a march at 12 PM which followed Wellesley Street to Bay Street, along Queen Street, and then up University Avenue until returning to Queen’s Park. The event concluded with a concert and included renditions of well-known songs such as “Imagine” by John Lennon. Performers ranged from high school students to recognized local bands, with the bassist for the Barenaked Ladies, Jim Creegan, being the main musical attraction.
Students and staff from TFS, myself included, left as a group during lunch and participated in the march and rally. Many of us created posters, and Level V students Emilie A., Cassandra P., and Kasey Q., and Level IV students Parker K and Matéo C were interviewed on the meaning of their signs and what the climate strike meant to them. Parker stated that he wanted “to communicate the seriousness of the situation while also incorporating some humour” with his sign: “Keep our earth clean, this isn’t Uranus.”
The march itself, although targeted for youth, included participants of all ages who carried signs with messages such as “I wanted a hot boyfriend not a hot planet” and “The only thing that should be getting hotter is me,” all the while chanting, “What do we want?” “Climate justice!”, and “When do we want it?” “Now!”
The strike was supported by numerous local organizations such as ClimateFast and Climate Justice Toronto, as well as a local drum circle who drummed to the beat of the chant, and an interpretive dance group who portrayed sea creatures suffocating in plastic.
Mayor John Tory showed his support for the event by shutting down the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square, “in solidarity with all those taking part.” Although immense changes have yet to be witnessed, one thing for sure is that this growing movement is unlikely to quiet down, especially with the continued engagement of the city’s youth.