Environmentalists gathered outside Haliburton Highlands Secondary School to support a worldwide rally for climate change action Sept. 20.
Approximately 60 people attended the local protest done in solidarity with youth-led events around the world, with students striking from school. The local strikes are a continuation of protests last spring. The Sept. 20 event attracted more students than previous but more than half the contingent were adults.
Organizer and HHSS student Jurgen Shantz said it remains important for youth to send a message.
“If nothing’s done then life will be a lot worse for a lot of people,” Shantz said. “I don’t want that to happen.”
Shantz struggled to attract peers for his spring strike outside the Dysart et al municipal office, where only a few high school students attended. About 20 HHSS students participated this time according to organizers.
“It’s better but not incredibly better,” Shantz said, adding he hopes to do a longer promotional campaign leading into the next event.
Grade 10 student Nick Phippen said many peers he spoke with did not feel like their protest could make a difference.
“Sadly, most of the kids I was talking to thought that ‘no one’s going to listen if we go out,’” Phippen said. “I’m out here to prove the point that us young generation, it is important and it is important for us to stand here and let people know and politicians know that climate change is happening.”
The protests were originally inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who has gained international acclaim for striking from school to protest inaction on climate change.
Haliburton School of Art and Design also joined the local demonstration.
“It’s hard to ignore the fate of our planet,” ceramics student Hasmita Alimchandani said. “It’s really important for more people to really lean in and show their support, especially young people.”
Bonnie Roe has regularly attended the protests started by Shantz. She said many adults have joined because they recognize how serious climate change is.
“Maybe a demonstration doesn’t change anything at the moment but it brings awareness to the issue and awareness is what we need,” Roe said. We need people to get on board.”
Shantz commented on the upcoming federal election.
“Vote for people that will help climate change action.”