Marching Towards a Greener Future
Guest Post by: Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager for Happy Eco News
The first time I ever went to a march or demonstration of any kind was in September 2019. This particular event was the climate strike held in Montreal, Canada. The strike was part of the Global Week for Future where over 800 cities across the globe would hold international strikes and protests to demand action be taken to address climate change. The idea was that the entire world would be marching in unity to bring awareness to a crisis that affects us all.
Montreal was an important destination for the strike because climate activist Greta Thunberg would be leading the march and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would also be attending. Schools across the city would be closed to give students an opportunity to participate in the strike. Public transport was also free that day to encourage participants to leave their cars at home and join.
The day before the march, I couldn’t decide if I was sure I want to participate. We’ve all heard horror stories about protests and how some of them can be destructive and dangerous. But my love for the environment and curiosity about what an environmental strike would look like got the best of me, so I made my decision to attend.
At the time, I wasn’t part of any environmental group so I went to the march alone. Although I felt more of a spectator than a participant, this march left a huge impact on me. As I stepped out of the metro and made my way to the meeting point where the march would start, I was swarmed with hundreds of people carrying homemade signs with messages about protecting the planet. What really impressed me was the different age groups that showed up. There were children protesting with their parents, teenagers chanting for change, and older people fighting for the future of their children and grandchildren. It was incredible to see the number of people who came together to fight for our planet. It really helped put the severity of the climate crisis into perspective. This is an issue that affects every single one of us no matter who you are and it’s an issue we must all face and combat together.
Over 500,000 people marched in the climate strike in Montreal that day, making it the largest strike in the city’s history. This turnout gave me so much hope for our planet and I left the march feeling very confident that this strike was the push society needed to work toward a greener planet. Unfortunately, a few months after the strike a global pandemic hit and the environmental plans and promises were put on hold for a while. We’re slowly making the environment a focus again but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
This year, we’re in an election year in Quebec, and if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I am a candidate for the Green Party of Quebec in a district in Montreal where I live. You can only imagine how excited I was to march in this year’s climate strike alongside my team at the Green Party. We are all candidates in this election and we are all working towards the goal of being elected to help our province make decisions that will positively influence our planet. I am incredibly proud to walk with a party that is truly dedicated to putting the environment first.
Other political parties showed up to the climate march as well, and although many of those parties have received more media attention throughout this whole election campaign, I know in my heart (and in the facts), that we are the only party dedicated to making positive change for the planet and our promises are not just empty words. One thing I think about when I attend these climate marches is if people’s commitment to the environment will translate into which political party they will vote for. At the time of the 2019 climate march, Canada was having an election – we were voting for a new prime minister. And I’m really curious to know how many of those 500 000 people were inspired to vote for an environmental leader after participating in the climate strike. The Green Party of Canada ended up winning 3 seats in parliament (they received 6.5% of the overall vote), an increase from the 2015 federal elections where the Green Party had only won one seat and 3.5% of the vote. Whether or not this was a direct result of the climate strike or their motivation to protect our environment we’ll probably never know, but it’s a step in the right direction (more like the left direction if you know what I mean).
I really hope we see this shift in this year’s political election. Although the Green Party of Quebec has gotten little to no media attention, I am hopeful that people who are looking for an environmental change will pick us to represent them. There are so many people demanding climate action, and if we win just one seat in the National Assembly this year it will bring us one step closer to being the change the people want. It’s participation in things like the climate strike that will mobilize people to fight. It’s teaching the youth about climate change and motivating them to push for change that will help give environmental parties like the Green Party (not only ones in Canada but all across the world) the necessary tools to protect our planet.
This year’s climate change was relatively quiet compared to the one in 2019. Neither Greta Thunberg nor Justin Trudeau showed up, and I think people are still getting over the effects of the pandemic. But despite all of that, over 140 000 people showed up to the march this year. Many universities were there as well as environmental groups and political parties. And of course, the younger kids and their parents were there which brings me a lot of joy. At the end of the day, every decision we make is for the future of the next generation. And as long as people keep showing up and are driven to make a change, and make the best decisions for the planet, the future will look a lot greener.