Saskatoon

No free pass for Saskatoon students attending climate strike

While students weren't automatically excused from class to attend the strike, they were allowed to participate on their own with parental permission.

Classes continued as usual at both of Saskatoon's major school divisions

Holding signs that read 'There's no Planet B' and 'Your house is on fire. Wake up!' demonstrators marched through downtown Saskatoon and rallied at Saskatoon's city hall. There, they called on all levels of government to reduce carbon emissions and introduce policy with environmental preservation as its focus. (Courtney Markewich/CBC)

Students in Saskatoon didn't get a free pass to attend a climate strike in the city on Friday — part of a series of events that saw people across the globe calling for governments to reduce carbon emissions and take serious action on climate change.

On Friday, hundreds of people marched through downtown Saskatoon and rallied at City Hall, calling on all levels of government to set aggressive goals to reduce carbon emissions and introduce environment-focused policy.

People also rallied in Regina by the hundreds. 

But Derrick Kunz, with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, said it was business as usual at the division and classes continued as normal.

He said parents who wanted to could pull their kids out of school for the strike, but they needed to report their child as absent.

The Saskatoon Public School Division said it won't be penalizing students for attending the rally, but administrators were advised not to send any classes to do the event, with the division citing student safety as its priority.

"Due to the nature of a public demonstration, our duty of care for students is harder to fulfil, so as such, we asked administrators to not be sending classes to the event," said Veronica Baker, a spokeswoman for the Saskatoon Public School Division. 

"That being said, we are certainly not preventing students from participating on their own."

People march through downtown Saskatoon during Friday's climate strike on Friday. People across the globe participated in the climate strike, with demonstrator in Saskatoon rallying at city hall and marching through the city's downtown core. (Courtney Markewich/CBC)

She said parents were asked to contact the school division to let them know if students would be absent from school, saying it's important parents, staff and the school division are on the same page. 

Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, said it would be up to divisions to determine if they excuse students from class to attend, but added participation in the rally might have been beneficial.

"Participating in an event like this is a way for students to see hands-on how democracy functions and encourage them to be informed, active and engaged citizens," he said.

"But as far as actually making that decision to allow students to participate without any repercussions back at school, [it] would be up to the divisions in regards to how they handle that."

People across Canada took part in rallies, including in Montreal — where Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired Friday's global action, spoke.

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