Nova Scotia

Students claim their school is shutting down climate change protest

Students at Citadel High School are trying to get the school's administration to allow them to promote a school protest around climate change.

"They’re actively trying to shut down any promotion of the strike within the school," says organizer

High school students from across HRM gathered at Halifax Public Gardens before marching out toward Province House in protest. (CBC/Aya Al-Hakim)

Around 400 high school students marched in downtown Halifax on Friday to raise awareness about climate change.

It's the second march to be organized by Citadel High School students. They believe their actions are not being supported by the school.

"They're actively trying to shut down any promotion of the strike within the school, which is really problematic because most of our promotion should be in the school seeing it is a school strike," said Willa Fisher, a Grade 11 student and one of the main organizers.

She said school officials are ripping down their posters.

Promoting the protest

"I was called to the office yesterday and was told that I can get a suspension if I put up any more posters," said Fisher.

Joe Morrison, the principal at Citadel High, said the school wouldn't suspend anyone for that.

"There's a policy for putting up posters in the school and we did that for a reason, so we are asking them to follow the policy," he said. "We just can't use the school as an avenue for someone's agenda."

Willa Fisher is the main organizer of the protest. (CBC/Paul Poirier)

Fisher said that even though it's not allowed for students to put up posters without permission "it's really easy for administration to either turn a blind eye or to politely tell students that they can't put up posters."

"And maybe help us with some other way we can promote the strike," she added.

Students need permission to leave school for protest

Morrison said the school has no problem with the climate issue, but cannot endorse students leaving class during the day.

"We can't advertise something that promotes kids to not be in school because then it looks like we're endorsing them to leave for the afternoon," he said.

Students are allowed to leave for a protest if they have written permission from their parents, Morrison said.

Ivan Andreou, the co-president of Citadel High, was called to the office along with Fisher on Thursday by a member of the administration staff.

He was told he can't be publicly affiliated with the protest or he'll risk losing his role as co-president.

Ivan Andreou is a student at Citadel High School. (Robert Short/CBC)

"He is not permitted to speak," said Susanne Brown, Andreou's mother. "He has been told to remove his image from any strike-related media. That meant that he was going back through Instagram and deleting posts from the last two months."

She said he'd been "intimidated" to choose between being involved with the protest for climate action or being co-president.

Students supporting the organizers

Fisher said many students are already finding out about what happened.

"They're messaging our page, they're saying it is not acceptable and they're just saying it's really upsetting," Fisher said. "And so I think this might cause more people to go to protests because people are realizing just how oppressive the administration is being."

Morrison, who said he's been dealing with some threatening comments on social media, said nobody has reached out to him to talk about what happened with administration yesterday, but is happy to talk to students and parents.

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About the Author

Aya Al-Hakim

Reporter

Aya Al-Hakim is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached at aya.al-hakim@cbc.ca.