Edmonton

Young Alberta activists join global climate strikes

Young activists marched to a climate strike rally at the Alberta Legislature Friday to call for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Students marched from University of Alberta, Churchill Square and MacEwan University

Climate change protesters packed the Alberta Legislature grounds on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Activists marched from the University of Alberta, Churchill Square and MacEwan University before they joined a loud and passionate rally on the steps of the Alberta Legislature.

More than two thousand young environmental activists held signs and chanted before and after a lineup of speakers engaged with the audience on Friday afternoon.

The crowd consisted of elementary, high school, and university students along with adults.

For organizers, the turnout and the energy was overwhelming.

"This is so unreal. When we first started talking about climate walk-outs, climate strikes, we really were just hoping to get the usual people, our close friends," said Stephen Buhler, an organizer with Our Time Edmonton. 

"We've done so much outreach and we've just had honestly, I think the largest climate mobilization that Edmonton has ever seen."

Young climate activists gather at Churchill Square to begin a march to the Alberta Legislature on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Buhler, a 28-year-old machinist, says the turnout shows that many Albertans want change when it comes to climate policy.

"We had people from all parts of the city marching on to the legislature to demand climate action and to demand a just transition that leaves no worker behind," he said. "And also that we make sure we are consulting Indigenous people on that transition."

In a news release, organizer Olivier Adkin-Kaya said he's acting because he's worried about his own future, as well as the future of generations to come.

"My concern for our planet's future is something I have in common with the ever-growing group of people who can no longer deny the urgency of the climate crisis," he said.  

Abram Ilcisin, 16, was inspired by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg to get involved with Climate Justice Edmonton and the strike.

He feels it's important for young Albertans to show that they're not OK with just relying on fossil fuels.

"A lot of people don't realize that Alberta is just as committed to solving the climate crisis as any other province," Ilcisin said. 

The rally and march joins close to hundreds of rallies expected to be held across Canada on Friday, along with many more across the world.

The activists are calling on politicians to adopt a climate action plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050.

Looking down at the activists from the Alberta Legislature was an "I [love] Canadian Oil & Gas" sign in two windows.

Students were expected to march from MacEwan University, the University of Alberta and Churchill Square on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 at around noon. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

A special advisor of the Office of the Premier issued this statement after being contacted by CBC News in reference to the signs:

"We know that the overwhelming majority of Albertans support the responsible development of our ethical oil and gas resources — including (we hope), those NDP MLAs attending today's protest in front of the legislature," it reads. 

@Travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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