Photo by Fireweed
Orca and a dinosaur join Comox Valley youth in climate action march
Y outh Environmental Action (YEA) took to the streets of Courtenay on Friday, May 3, to highlight the desperate situation the local community, province, country, and, indeed, the globe faces as the long brewing climate catastrophic comes home to roost.
Homemade placards challenged early afternoon shoppers and drivers with “The Climate is Changing; Why aren’t We?” as well as “It’s Our Future” and “Lower the Voting Age Before It’s Too Late.”
The call to attend the march went out through various social media formats and was answered by daycare students with their parents, elementary and high school students coming to the event on city buses, and college students skipping classes as well as older supporters. The estimated 250 students from across the Comox Valley were joined by older supporters swelling their ranks to 300 avid climate activists.
They challenged all levels of government to find their environmental consciences. They had specific questions for Gord Johns, NDP MP, and Ronna-Rae Leonard, NDP MLA who greeted marchers outside of their shared downtown Courtenay office.
Ava Perkins wanted to know when climate sciences were going to be taught in K-12 classrooms.
Ella Oldaker wanted the two government officials and their parties to actively protect old and second growth forests.
Mackai Sharp wanted to know how the federal government intended to protect the West Coast from [offshore] drilling.
Sienna Stephens asked why the herring fishery was continuing unabated in the Strait, when herring are a food source for other marine species.
All good questions, both Johns and Leonard agreed. Johns encouraged youth to “raise the volume” in their quest to lead the world away from climate disaster, while Leonard cautioned everyone to remain constructive and work with lawmakers in making the world a better place.
Older supporters of the march reacted to Leonard by shouting down her mild responses to the student questions as typical NDP pablum. In response, Nalan Goosen, one of the founders of YEA, asked everyone in the crowd to listen respectfully to the politicians’ responses.
One four-year-old, Yma, told this reporter that she was at the march with her mother because “there are too many factories and big buildings” and too few trees.
One seventh grader, Cory McAllister, said he is home schooled but found out about the march on social media and felt he had to support YEA.
An orca and an eight-foot-high dinosaur also joined the march.
In the crowd of older supporters, Pam Monroe, sincerely apologized to the students. She explained, “I worked in Alberta in the oil and gas industry for years. My lifestyle profited,” she said, “at the expense of the environment.”
Pat Carl is a contributor to the Decafnation Civic Journalism Project
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