Protesters gathered in cities across Canada on Friday to denounce government inaction on fighting climate change as part of a series of worldwide environmental protests.
The events were part of the Fridays for Future movement that is inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
In Montreal, activists unfurled a red and yellow banner reading “Land Back” across the statue at the base of Mount Royal ahead of what was billed as a teach-in on decolonization and Indigenous sovereignty.
As a light rain fell, 21-year-old Ryder Cote-Nottaway, a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, urged those present to protect the Earth for future generations.
He said climate change is impacting Indigenous communities’ ability to practise their “traditional, ancestral, inherent rights.”
“In my territory, you’re see a lot of forestry, clear cutting,” he said in an interview on the sidelines. “The animals, they’re going away. The rivers and waters are being polluted.”
Dozens of other events were planned in cities across Canada, including Ottawa, Quebec City, Calgary and Vancouver. Other climate demonstrations were held around the world, including some 300 in Germany alone.
Attendees of the Canadian protests were there to denounce the role of colonialism and capitalism in contributing to climate change, but also more local issues, such as a $6-billion highway expansion in Ontario and the Quebec government’s decision to fence in threatened caribou herds.
In Montreal, the crowd skewed young and included many students, including 19-year-old Juliana Saroop. The Dawson College student said that at times she feels “overwhelmed and paralyzed” in the face of the climate crisis, but seeing the global protests makes her feel a little more hopeful.
“There’s a big difference in individual and global change, and right now we’re trying to fight for a bigger change,” Saroop said.
In Ottawa, protesters sported signs that read “Don’t be a fossil fool” and “Every decision matters now.” Dozens turned out to support the climate protest, including a person dressed in an oversized green dinosaur costume who posed for photos while bearing a sign that read “Don’t choose extinction.”
Protester Linda McCourt said she would like to see the government speed up on investing in the renewable energy sector.
“We should have done that already,” she said.
Organizer Sarah Scott said she was taking part in the climate strike because she is disappointed with actions that different levels of government have taken on climate change. She said she is also concerned with the effect the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having on the climate through subsidies for the oil markets.
—Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press