December 10, 2019

Winnipeg
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City boosts Global Climate Strike with 10,000 marchers

The ache of carrying a 64-pound canoe for an hour wasn’t the only thing on Garrett Tremblay’s mind as he portaged in a march for climate action alongside more than 10,000 local activists taking part in the Global Climate Strike on Friday.

"Everyone’s here demonstrating and here I am carrying the canoe, and I thought there was a bit of symmetry and symbolism," said Tremblay, 29. "The portage is often the hardest part [of a canoe trip]."

“Everyone’s here demonstrating and here I am carrying the canoe, and I thought there was a bit of symmetry and symbolism. The portage is often the hardest part [of a canoe trip],” said Garrett Tremblay. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

“Everyone’s here demonstrating and here I am carrying the canoe, and I thought there was a bit of symmetry and symbolism. The portage is often the hardest part [of a canoe trip],” said Garrett Tremblay. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Students, teachers and parents with strollers, among other adult allies, spent Friday afternoon participating in a peaceful protest outside the Manitoba Legislature.

PC CAUCUS MISSES THE MARCH

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires did not attend Friday’s global climate strike at the legislative grounds – nor did anyone in the Progressive Conservative caucus it seems.

“Today was about the youth and having their voices heard. And our government is always listening to the youth,” Squires said in an interview when asked if there was Tory representation at the event.

The minister said she had several other engagements outside the downtown area Friday.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires did not attend Friday’s global climate strike at the legislative grounds – nor did anyone in the Progressive Conservative caucus it seems.

“Today was about the youth and having their voices heard. And our government is always listening to the youth,” Squires said in an interview when asked if there was Tory representation at the event.

The minister said she had several other engagements outside the downtown area Friday.

Squires made time, however, to announce in a news release and on Twitter a new youth advisory council on climate change.

“I have a drawer full of letters and, much to my delight, drawings from youth around this province on how we should move towards eliminating plastic and mitigating climate change,” she said. “And so, today we wanted to announce the formalization of that process by striking a youth advisory council.”

The council will be made up of 15 to 25-year-olds, who can inquire about participating by emailing ccinfo@gov.mb.ca. It will report to the Manitoba Climate and Green Plan’s Expert Advisory Council, which provides technical expertise to government.

As for the seven demands laid out by the Manitoba Youth for Climate Action (MYCA) this week, the minister said she would be looking at them and “having a real fulsome review of their requests.”

The New Democrat caucus did attend the climate strike events as a group Friday, after their morning swearing-in ceremony for MLAs.

Lisa Naylor, the MLA for Wolseley and the party’s newly-appointed environment and climate change critic, signalled their support in a written statement.

“[Pallister] would rather spend millions on pointless legal battles than implement a price on pollution. We have to listen to Manitoba youth who are calling for a real plan to fight the climate crisis," she said.

Asked about how the province can counter-balance fighting the federal carbon tax in court with being green, Squires referred to the government’s other green initiatives like retrofits for the trucking industry and investments in conservation trusts. She also pointed to the legislated greenhouse gas emissions reductions target the PC government set as evidence of their commitment.

In 2017, the Tories set a target of eliminating two and a half megatonnes of emissions by 2022. After eliminating carbon taxes from their green plan last year, they scaled back their goal to one megatonne of emissions reductions by 2022.

The number one demand from the MYCA is for the province to legislate greenhouse gas emission reductions of 65 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2040.

— Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Participants listened to impassioned speeches before lining up shoulder-to-shoulder on Broadway to march in a loop downtown. They held signs that read, "There is no planet B" and "Time is running out." Tremblay’s canoe — a bright red 16-foot vessel bearing the hashtag "#ClimateStrike" — and a giant paper mâché globe stood out.

Similar scenes played out in more than 150 countries across the planet, all in response to 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s call for mass mobilization.

Led by Manitoba Youth for Climate Action, the Winnipeg crowd’s demands were echoed in their repeated chant: "What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!"

"I’ve certainly never seen a crowd this size, other than a Whiteout party, from a spontaneous standpoint," Const. Rob Carver with the Winnipeg Police Service said Friday. Carver said between 10,000 and 12,000 people were in attendance.

"I’ve certainly never seen a crowd this size, other than a Whiteout party, from a spontaneous standpoint," Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Rob Carver said. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

"I’ve certainly never seen a crowd this size, other than a Whiteout party, from a spontaneous standpoint," Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Rob Carver said. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Friday’s strike was a culmination of a week of action for climate justice, announced in response to scientists sounding alarms that if the earth’s temperature rises 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, the planet risks catastrophic change.

Righteous anger of youth drives climate cause

Click to Expand
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS						</p>																	<p>École Seven Oaks Middle School student Carlos Castro and his classmates listen to speeches on the steps of the legislature.						</p>
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

École Seven Oaks Middle School student Carlos Castro and his classmates listen to speeches on the steps of the legislature.

Posted: 27/09/2019 10:08 PM

The wave rose up from the heart of the city and spilled into the street, up to the boulevards and past the undressing trees, and it just kept going. It was a foot-powered flood, an undammed human stream, and for more than an hour it showed no signs of stopping.

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Kathy Nguyen, an organizer with Manitoba Youth for Climate Action, was at a loss for words when first asked Friday about how the movement has grown. Nguyen, 16, said the first strike she helped organize in January saw only 50 people turnout.

"It’s really motivating because now you can see the effectiveness of these strikes and what they’re really for," said the 16-year-old, who skipped class to attend the Friday event.

"This is for climate, for climate justice, for climate action to push that climate change is an intersectional issue that affects everyone but especially people of colour, Indigenous people, people from low-income families."

Nguyen said youth will continue to hold weekly strikes in mid-October until all their demands are met.

The youth group has issued seven formal demands. The list calls for: bold emissions reductions targets, the rejection of fossil fuel projects, a renewable-energy based economy, a legal right to a healthy environment, conservation of biodiversity and the protection of vulnerable groups in the climate crisis.

Activists have also made clear their demand for politicians to commit to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples "in full."

Sage Kent, 23, said she was especially encouraged Friday by numerous speakers’ words about the importance of collaboration with Indigenous leaders on tackling climate change.

Similar scenes as in Winnipeg played out in more than 150 countries across the planet, all in response to 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s call for mass mobilization. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Similar scenes as in Winnipeg played out in more than 150 countries across the planet, all in response to 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s call for mass mobilization. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

A member of Brokenhead First Nation, she said the one thing that unites every unique First Nation is a common belief in the need to protect the earth.

Kent brought her two young sons, ages one and four, to the event. "I wanted them to know their voices matter," she said.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie is a cub reporter who covers every beat in the newsroom. She appreciates alliteration, when newspaper ink stains her fingertips and, more importantly, tips on social and environmental equity issues.

Read full biography

History

Updated on Friday, September 27, 2019 at 8:37 PM CDT: Fixes typo

10:11 PM: Adds related column

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