Win­nipeg stu­dents take cli­mate change fight to the street

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - DAN­TON UNGER dan­[email protected]­

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.


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