British Columbia·Photos

Students take to Vancouver streets calling for action on climate change

Hundreds of students filled the streets of downtown Vancouver on Friday, taking part in the global Climate Strike movement to rally for more action on climate change.

They can't vote yet, but they're sharing an urgent call for action

Sonya, a Grade 10 Sir Winston Churchill Secondary student, chants while holding a bright pink sign saying, 'I want you to panic.' (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The global Climate Strike movement, sparked by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, drew hundreds of students out of class Friday afternoon, and into the streets of Downtown Vancouver. 

Their central message was clear: Climate change is a threat to their futures and they want political and corporate leaders to share their sense of urgency.

Lola, a Grade 11 student at Vancouver technical School, took part in the event with her face painted to represent a Siberian tiger, an endangered species, as a reminder that climate change doesn't just affect humans.

Many students provided their first names only to CBC.

"Climate change is an issue that affects all living things on planet earth, so as humans we're standing up for our futures, but also all living things that don't have a voice," she said.

Lola, a Vancouver Technical School Grade 11 student, painted her face along with several of her friends to draw attention to non-human species threatened by climate change. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The rally in Vancouver was just one of 55 across the country, according to organizers, and demonstrators numbered about 2,000 in B.C., including parents and other older folks who tagged along with youth-led march.

Students from all over the Metro Vancouver region skipped their afternoon classes on Friday to attend the Climate Strike rally. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)
Sophia and Celina, both Grade 10 students at Gladstone Secondary school in Vancouver, hold a sign saying "The climate is changing. Why aren't we?" (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Protestors said society needs to make major changes to address the enormous challenge posed by climate change.

Wesley Schneider, a Grade 11 student at Chatelech Secondary School in Sechelt, travelled to the rally from the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver with his father. 

He carried a sign with a clock marking 11:55.

"If we don't do something quick enough, it'll be too late," said Schneider. "We need to think of solutions that will help the Earth, like reduce emissions or reduce plastic, pick up garbage. It's simple things that we can do, a lot of people can do and it'll make a difference."

Wesley Schneider, Grade 11, travelled from the Sunshine Coast with his father to take part in the Climate Strike rally in Vancouver on Friday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Ainslie, a West Vancouver Secondary Grade 8 student, said it felt great to take part in the demonstration, saying young people don't always feel they have a voice.

"We don't have a lot of time left to stop the oceans from rising any further, and it's already affecting people in different parts of the world, and it will soon here," she said.

Ainslie, a Grade 8 student at West Vancouver Secondary School, holds a sign that says "Like the ocean, we rise." (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Jamie Antone, Grade 7 at Lynnmour Elementary, carried a sign saying, "Skip school for climate change today."

"We definitely need to cut down on fossil fuels, and maybe build more wind turbines, solar panels and use less gas in general," said Antone. "I want to save this planet Earth. We've only got one of them."

Jamie Antone, who attends Grade 7 at Lynnmour Elementary school in North Vanouver, says taking part in the rally felt good. "I want to save this planet Earth. We've only got one of them," he said. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

There were plenty of adults in the crowd — some parents, some people who just wanted to show their support.

Emilia Belliveau recently completed a master's program in environmental studies. She was using sidewalk chalk to spread messages on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza.

"I'm here to support the students who are really leading the charge on this one," said Belliveau. "It's incredibly inspiring."

Emilia Belliveau, a recent graduate of a master's program in environmental studies, writes slogans in chalk on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza. She says she took part on Friday's rally to support the students leading it. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)
As many as a thousand people gathered in Vancouver to take part in the global Climate Strike movement on Friday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker

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