Listen closely, activists urge politicians for Waterloo region climate strikes

Local politicians planning to attend the Global Climate Strike demonstrations in Waterloo and Cambridge on Friday should pay close attention to what's being said. One of the organizers, Andres Fuentes, says politicians should 'know enough to listen rather than try to push their message.'

Politicians should 'know enough to listen rather than try to push their message,' organizer says

Thousands of students are seen in this file photo as they marched in Montreal earlier this spring to bring attention to climate issues. Demonstrators are expected in uptown Waterloo and Cambridge on Friday around noon for similar marches as part of the Global Climate Strike. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

When people demonstrate in uptown Waterloo on Friday as part of the Global Climate Strike, organizers hope politicians will come and listen very closely to what's being said.

"I also do hope they talk to people because I'm sure people will express their personal experiences on climate change and I'm sure most, if not all, of our local politicians here have been around enough and know enough to listen rather than try to push their message during the event," one of the organizers Andres Fuentes said in an interview.

There are two key messages he hopes they take away from the event, which is expected to see hundreds of people demonstrate in uptown Waterloo.

One is the urgency of climate issues.

"We need action now and we need action that really addresses the problem and isn't just there to say we we've done something about it," Fuentes said.

The second thing he hopes they take away is seeing just how much support there is for change.

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"Sometimes politicians are afraid to take bold action on things because they think they're ahead of where the population is. But I think when you look at not just these climate strikes but also a lot of polls and all of that, you'll see that people are supporting action on climate change," he said. "It's important for them to ... see that."

'You're part of the conversation'

Gracie Hoffman is a Grade 11 student at Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge and organized the strike in her city.

She says she wants voters to pay attention to the demonstrations, too and understand that they can't discount the voices of youth.

"I want them to keep in mind that they are also deciding our futures," said Hoffman, who won't be able to vote in this election.

She says she's also heard the criticism from people who say the rallies are just an excuse to get out of school.

"People are saying that like students are trying to get to school but they're coming [to the rally] anyway, so great. Maybe you'll learn something," she said. "You can come for whatever reason you want to as long as you're there and you're listening and you're part of the conversation."