Nfld. & Labrador

High school marchers bring climate proposals to Gander town hall

Gander Collegiate students brought a list of proposals to Gander's mayor on Friday, as they participated in a series of worldwide climate change demonstrations.

Students want action on composting, electric car chargers

Lewisporte student Paige Sargent chants a slogan during a rally at Gander Town Hall on Friday. Sargent travelled to Gander for the march, and plans to hold another at her own high school in Lewisporte next week. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

High school marchers from Gander asked their mayor for action on electric cars, composting and green energy Friday as they participated in a series of worldwide climate demonstrations.

Students from Gander Collegiate skipped class at noon to march to Town Hall, joining other students from St. John's and around the world in what organizers called a "Fridays for Future" movement.

"Why study for a future you might not have? And why get educated when the educated aren't listened to?" asked organizer Kate Brown.  

"I think that students, by leaving school — that makes the most impact we can make."

Local politicians, including Mayor Percy Farwell and Gander MHA John Haggie, spoke to the students at the march. Brown tried to put the politicians on the hot seat, asking them for concrete action on environmental issues.

A marcher holds a sign as she departs from Gander Collegiate on Friday. A student estimated about 90 of her classmates joined her for the march. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Farwell said his town council would move forward on the proposals.

"That is something that we certainly have recognized as an area where we can be a part of a major improvement in this community," he said, to a question on electric car charging stations.

Brown also asked how Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial government could become "environmentally conscious" if it is reliant on oil and gas industries for revenue.

Haggie responded that the provincial government could move forward with the decommissioning of the Holyrood Generating Station.

'Speak our opinions loudly'

Grade 10 student Brady Butler estimated that 90 of his classmates joined him for the walkout.

"We all came to speak our opinions loudly on the big issue," added Ally Byrne.

"It's definitely worth a walk out of class because, in the future, if we don't protest our opinions we won't have a class to go to … It's gotten substantially worse in the past couple of years, and it's only going to keep getting worse from here." 

Brown said she would return to Gander Town Hall in the coming months to check on her proposals. She also said she's thinking of planning more walkouts in the next school year.

"People of my age are seeing how much climate change can impact our future," she said.  

"Because we still have a lot of life to live, and that life might be — the quality of that life might be changed by climate change if we don't do something." 

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