Student strikers rally for future

We've only got on earth, folks. Jeremy Davis

Earth literally dying

On Friday, Sept.20, hundreds participated in Regina’s Global Strike for Future, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s declaration of September 20-27 as Global Climate Strike Week.

Protestors from around the city and province gravitated toward Wascana Park on Friday morning outside of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Signs of all colours and shapes were present, displaying messages of existential dread and political frustrations.

Highlights included: “Fossil Fuels are for Fossil Fools,” “Science is not a Liberal Conspiracy,” and Greta Thunberg’s famous quote, “Our House is on Fire.”

Once the marchers had congregated, they began their trek to the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. Chants of “1, 2, 3, there is no planet B!” and “What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!” could be heard rising from Albert Street as the group quickly caught the attention of local traffic. Honks of support energized those protesting and appreciative cheers would wash over the stream of people.

The marchers reached their destination and installed themselves on the building’s steps. Feelings of unity became apparent with everyone gathered in close proximity for the sole purpose of immediate climate action at the government level. It also became apparent once gathered that one large, important population was missing from the demonstration: students. While the event was never targeted as being exclusive for young people, the movement across the globe is being led by students, which was unfortunately not the case in Regina.

Speakers included Dr. Eber Hampton, a retired professor from the Paul J. Hill School of Business, who offered prayers for those protesting and Mother Earth, as well as Britt Hall of the university’s Department of Biology. After the more formal speeches, the floor was opened up to all in attendance. Many young students shared their anti-litter statements while several adolescent speakers shared their discontent surrounding their education and the lack of focus surrounding climate change in the curriculum.

A memorable moment in particular was when Federal Green Party candidate for Regina-Wascana, Tamela Friesen, took the opportunity to campaign for the impending election. Friesen was reminded of the event’s non-partisanship, but only after urging voters to consider Green as a viable alternative to a Conservative or Liberal government. She then doffed her button and stated that today she was just another citizen of the world.

The morning’s speeches came to a close as students of Prairie Sky School sang a haunting song about the Earth’s precarious future. Those observing solemnly clapped and stomped to the chant’s powerful beat.

One attendee from the University of Regina was Mikayla Koronkiewicz, a third-year student in the Politics, Philosophy and Economics program who is an active member of campus.

When asked about what brought her to the Global Strike for Future, Koronkiewicz said, “I am climate striking for the simple fact that our Earth is in a dire position and needs help. Scientists are pointing to climate change being a real issue facing humanity and I can see the effects of climate change on the globe, from the heat waves to the melting arctic ice. I am striking because the issue is black and white, and we must do something about it.”

Koronkiewicz doesn’t exactly have a lot of experience when it comes to activism, however she remains hopeful that protesting climate change will help to increase awareness and eventually incite structural change amongst government.

“I think, with climate change specifically, social movements are needed to unite the whole world. We need strikes to show that the world is in on this issue. Not just one area or another, but that we are all united with a common front. I believe politicians care about being elected – at the very least – and thus, need to be concerned when millions of people are protesting, saying that they care about a particular issue.”

“For me personally, my wake up call surrounding climate change and my push to action came with learning about people and animals dying due to the climate issues. Even more so, I became increasingly aware of the dire situation when I began to learn more about the Indigenous worldview. I really began to resonate with this view that we are all interconnected with each other and with nature. I believe that this outlook is essential to addressing climate change. Learning about the Indigenous worldview has helped me become more passionate about the Earth and nature.”

Friday, Sept. 20 saw climate strikes across the globe. Over 300,000 of demonstrators are thought to have participated in climate strikes in Australia while New York City allowed over one million of its students to skip school in order to attend the strike.

In just one year, Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future have built into becoming an entire chapter of history that is continuing to grow.

Protestors will meet once again on Friday, Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m. outside of the museum for what is hoped to be Regina’s largest climate strike yet.

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