On September 27, people from within and beyond Toronto’s borders gathered at Queens Park for the Global Climate Strike. Local residents attended to represent the Downsview community and marched to raise awareness for climate change.
The event brought people of all ages and different political stripes together. Countless students were excused from school to picket with their classmates. Participants carried signs displaying their personal messages to political leaders, demanding a call to action.
Local resident and community activist, Ayesha Khan, said that “You could feel the frustration, fear, anger and hope in the children. I kept seeing butterflies and dragonflies hovering over the crowd as if nature was saying “Thank you for coming. We heard you. We love you too.”
The series of climate strikes are especially relevant in the midst of the federal election. Voters are comparing the various environmental policies that are included in the platforms of the top contesting parties. The Liberals have been criticized for their conflicting stances, including their support of building more pipelines while unveiling a countrywide tree planting initiative that seems to fall short of necessity. While the Conservatives based their climate change plan around abolishing the carbon tax, many are concerned that they will streamline their powers to hold corporations accountable for their carbon emissions.
The NDP’s strategy includes “A New Deal for Climate Action and Good Jobs,” alluding to the importance of building a greener economy as part of a broader framework for legislating greater corporate responsibility. The NDP’s plan is built off of the notion that social justice encompasses environmental justice, and they have committed to working with Indigenous communities to prioritize removing the toxins and pollutants that have been left behind to contaminate their homes for generations. While the Green Party has presented some parallels to the NDP, the public is left to debate whether or not the other pillars of their platform are just as progressive in nature.
Teach2Learn, a youth mentorship program that organizes academic workshops for Spanish-speaking students at Keele and Finch, had several of its young leaders on site. Juan Poveda said that,
“Participating in the climate strike was a demonstration of coherence. It is extremely important that young people continue to voice their thoughts and take concrete action. These actions should not only include participating in a strike, but should include every-day habits that show people, corporations and governments that we care enough about our future to take care of our home.”
More than 15,000 attended the Climate Strike in Toronto, and many continue to express their solidarity online. Given the political climate, this could lead to consistent waves of collective action as much of humanity struggles to realign the modern political agendas to preserving the planet’s resources. The common thread that held the crowd together was the outcry for change at all levels of government in order to pave a way to a sustainable vision of prosperity that includes everyone.