'Let's hope everyone hears us': Students take climate strikes to the streets of N.S.
'It's the survival of humanity. It's the most important issue right now,' says student organizer
As people around the world call for more action against climate change, thousands of Nova Scotians are taking part in the global climate strike.
There are at least eight climate strikes happening in Nova Scotia on Friday in Halifax, Truro, Middleton, New Glasgow, Antigonish, Sandy Cove, Baddeck and Sydney.
Police estimated more than 10,000 marched in downtown Halifax, and said it was the largest protest in recent years in the city.
"It's insane," said Julia Sampson, a Grade 12 student at Citadel High school. "I thought that maybe we would get a thousand people. I never thought this would happen."
Young people are growing increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change. Millions took to the streets in about 150 countries one week ago as part of Fridays for Future, a school strike movement founded by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, which has grown into a global movement.
Sampson is also one of the organizers for School Strike For Climate Halifax.
"Everyone here feels the same way that I do and they're just as frustrated," she said.
"It's the survival of humanity. It's the most important issue right now."
This video shows the size of the crowd now marching down Lower Water Street. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/climatestrikecanada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#climatestrikecanada</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ClimateStrike?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ClimateStrike</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCNS</a> <a href="https://t.co/Xswb5Dsj2i">pic.twitter.com/Xswb5Dsj2i</a>—@CBCcameraman
Shannon Wetmore was watching the strike in front of the Halifax Central Library on Friday morning, tearfully clapping as thousands of people marched by her.
"It was last year for me that the light bulb came on and I realized I can do something," she said.
"It's been a bit of a silent journey, but this week has really been incredible. There's such energy, and a lot of it has to do with Greta."
In Cape Breton, more than 200 people gathered outside of city hall in Sydney, including children in elementary school and university students. Most of Nova Scotia's English-language public schools were closed Friday due to a previously scheduled professional development day for teachers.
The group called on Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke to make a statement, but he was out of the office.
Ten-year-old Fern Moore told CBC News what motivated her to get involved.
"We're killing the Earth and soon we may not have an Earth — there's not even another Earth to live on because there is not another Earth to have oxygen on," said Fern.
Hannah Kosick, 21, said we need to think now about the kind of world our children will inherit.
"It's always about seven generations ahead," she told CBC News. "We need to look back at what previous generations have done and how they existed, and what we can do to make it better for future generations...who have the right to a better planet."
The Halifax event started in Victoria Park and people made their way down Spring Garden Road.
People chanted and carried signs that said things like, "You'll die of old age, I'll die of climate change," "Save the planet for our grandchildren," and "Rise up before the sea does."
Maggie MacIntyre of Dartmouth was carrying a sign that showed bees with a green check mark and the word billionaires with a red X through it.
"[I'm] worried about the future for my son, but hopeful that this generation will make a difference," she said.
Richard Timothy was planting small trees as he marched through the city.
"They give us fresh air," he said. "And Greta says it's a solution."
Happening now in Halifax, Nova Scotia. <a href="https://t.co/AaSjlRdTNl">pic.twitter.com/AaSjlRdTNl</a>—@Brett_CBC
The group then staged a "die-in" on Lower Water Street in front of the Nova Scotia Power building before heading toward Grand Parade.
At Grand Parade, young people from across the province made their way to the steps of city hall and spoke about why they took part in the strike.
Jessica Griffin, 13, spoke at the rally. In an interview with CBC News, she said they're trying to bring everyone together to force three levels of government to take action.
"We need everyone's help," she said. "We can't do this alone."
Abby Steeves, a Grade 9 student at Halifax Grammar School, said her goal is to get people to "actually do something."
"I want to help inspire people," she told CBC's Information Morning.
"No one is going to do anything if they think it's so helpless that ... nothing can be done, and no one will do anything if they think it's not a big deal."
Steeves wants to see better public transportation in Halifax to encourage fewer people to use cars. Since learning about the effects of climate change, she has stopped eating meat and doesn't use single-use plastics.
"Once you stop using them, you realize how little you need them," she said.
Gorsebrook Junior High student Milo van Kessel Power echoed the importance of making changes.
"The youth is the next generation that's going to be living in this climate change, so considering that they're going to be the next grown-ups ... We should start now as opposed to starting when we don't really have a chance," he said.
"Let's hope everyone hears us."
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With files from Brent Kelloway and CBC's Information Morning