Thunder Bay high school students rally to fight climate change, find hope for their future
Five high school students planned the climate strike saying they want politicians to find real solutions
The first Fridays for Future climate strike to be led by teenagers in Thunder Bay, Ont., took place Friday afternoon.
"If we don't take a stand now, we don't know if there will be a future for us," said Keira Essex, a Grade 11 student at Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute in the northwestern Ontario city and one of five young people who organized the event to coincide with more than 3,000 similar rallies happening around the world.
The teenagers want political leaders at every level of government from municipal to provincial, federal and international to take the necessary steps to slow down global warming and its accompanying climate change.
Climate change 'makes me feel hopeless'
"What they should do for starters is declare a climate emergency," said Essex, adding "it's critical and vital that they listen to the environmental scientists and take their recommendations because they are the professionals, and they are the ones who are most aware of what solutions will be able to solve this."
Uncertainty around climate change "makes me feel hopeless," said fellow organizer Franny MacGregor, a Grade 11 student at Hammarskjold High School.
She knows she doesn't have all the answers for how to fix climate change or repair the damage done, but she wishes politicians would work together to find those solutions.
"I should be in school studying different things, and I just really want world leaders and the government to realize what they're doing is not okay, and they need to change."
'World leaders are going to have to listen'
MacGregor treasures the time she spends outside, even when it's walking to school on frosty winter mornings.
"I feel so much more awake, and I enjoy myself so much more when I get to school rather than when I get a ride to school," she said, noting it is those types of moments that helped inspire her to join the Fridays for Future movement.
"I think locally, just being part of this small group, really gives me hope and makes me feel good, that change might happen if we get together, and even as a bigger, worldwide movement, there's so many people involved... and people are starting to realize that this is an issue, and if consistently there are so many strikes happening, world leaders are going to have to listen," she said.
Essex, who is Ojibway from Hiawatha First Nation, said people just need to look around and they'll see what's at stake because of climate change.
"For me the best part of my morning is that when I walk to school I get to see the sun rise over the giant, and there's a layer of trees covering all the buildings downtown, and it's beautiful... How could you not want to protect that?"
You can hear the full interview with the pair on CBC's Up North program here.