Winnipeg students take climate change fight to the street
ORE than 20 Winnipeg students skipped school Friday, calling on government to take action to combat climate change in the local edition of an international day of protest.
The group of 21 students from École River Heights marched to the office of Jim Carr, Liberal MP for South Winnipeg Centre. Bundled up in winter gear, the young activists chanted “The air we breath is under attack,” as they waved signs urging the next generation to help save the planet.
“Something needs to happen, and if the politicians aren’t going to do it, then we need to,” said Madison Delaat, a Grade 7 student and one of the march organizers. “If the politicians are going to start acting like kids, then the kids are going to start acting like adults.”
Alongside Madison was Miyawata Stout, another co-organizer and Grade 7 student. The two girls held a petition calling on Canada’s government to take immediate steps to address climate change signed by 65 students and staff from their Winnipeg middle school.
Carr was not in Winnipeg to accept the petition, though a staff member at his office said he would ensure the minister of international trade diversification would see it.
“We already know the solutions to our problems: stop polluting plastic, stop emissions, stop taking so much oil,” Madison said. “(These problems) have already been solved. We just don’t want to give up our cars, and the way we heat our houses,
Mand our plastic bags.”
Miyawata and Madison both said they would like to see Canada ban single-use plastic bags and straws, as a first step. The local protest was one of 17 that took place Friday across North America and Europe. The global initiative was started by a 15-year-old girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg.
“Why should we be studying for a future that soon will be no more?” Greta said in a video shared on Twitter. Since August, Greta has been skipping school on Friday to sit on the steps of parliament in Sweden. She has encouraged other students across the world to join her.
“I think right now there’s kind of a stereotype for our generation, that we’re all glued to our phones and we only care about fast fashion,” 12-year-old Miyawata said. “But there are lot’s of us who are really worried and I think it’s a really good message for young people to get — that it’s OK to not blend in with everyone else, it’s OK to stand up for what you believe in.”
The Winnipeg protest was organized by the students and was not affiliated with the school, though those involved said the principal had been supportive and volunteered a room in the school for the students to make their protest signs.
Students who participated in the protest were marked absent from their classes.
Miyawata said another protest is scheduled for January.