Powell River students lead climate action march

Group wants to let community know that youth care

Led by four Brooks Secondary School students, a group of climate action advocates marched in a procession along Marine Avenue recently to create climate change awareness.

Beginning at Willingdon Beach on Friday, May 24, stopping at Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons’ office and proceeding to Powell River City Hall, the group gathered in the city hall entranceway and chanted “stop denying, the earth is dying,” until Powell River mayor Dave Formosa came down to meet with them.

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Formosa asked those in attendance if they knew how much the sea level is forecast to rise in the next 50 years. He said he has heard officially from Environment Canada that levels will rise three feet in that period of time, underscoring the seriousness of the problem.

After meeting the mayor, Madeline Smith, one of the students in the march, said the students wanted to let people know that youth really care about climate change.

“By the time we are able to vote we are going to get the people we want into office,” said Smith.

She said the students organized the march with support from Climate Action Powell River. She added that a youth group is going to be started along the lines of the non-profit society.

“We are really active and really committed to reducing climate change; it’s very important that we know about this and are educated,” said Smith. “We are thinking about issues that affect British Columbia, like pipelines, ocean levels and the well-being of our forests. These are all big issues.”

Climate Action Powell River member Bill Lytle-McGhee said the organization saw student Macy How’s article in the Peak Midweek [“Student Life: Making our voices heard,” April 3] on climate change and the students’ attitudes toward it.

“I gave her a call and asked if she’d like to come to one of our Climate Action Powell River meetings so we could meet and talk about kids’ attitudes and how they see the situation,” said Lytle-McGhee.

“She came to a meeting, the first time by herself,” he said. “We had a discussion about what was happening in her age group, the youth. The next meeting, she came with about six or seven other students.”

The students said May 24 was a global Greta Thunberg march and they wanted to observe it. Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish student who began protesting about the need for climate change action outside the Swedish parliament and has become an internationally recognized spokesperson for climate change action. Thunberg has initiated School Strike for Climate, which has a worldwide following.

Lytle-McGhee said the Powell River students talked about the problems they were having organizing at the school and needing to do it off school property so there was not any conflict there.

“The march just unfolded,” said Lytle-McGhee.

He said the youth have far more at stake than adults.

“They have their whole lives ahead of them; if I was their age and this situation was around, I’d be thinking pretty seriously about taking some action,” he added. “It seems like most adults in their parents’ generation are asleep. This whole thing doesn’t seem to be connecting with that age group.”

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