Greta Thunberg-inspired climate protests take place across Canada, globe

Greta Thunberg-inspired climate protests take place across Canada, globe

by Sue Jones
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Protesters gathered in cities across Canada on Friday to denounce government inaction on fighting climate change as part of a series of worldwide environmental protests.

Protesters gathered in cities across Canada on Friday to denounce government inaction on fighting climate change as part of a series of worldwide environmental protests.

The events were part of the Fridays for Future movement that is inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

In Montreal, activists unfurled a red-and-yellow banner reading, “Land Back,” across the statue at the base of Mount Royal ahead of what was billed as a “teach-in” on decolonization and Indigenous sovereignty.

As a light rain fell, 21-year-old Ryder Cote-Nottaway, a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, urged those present to protect the Earth for future generations.

He said climate change is impacting Indigenous communities’ ability to practise their “traditional, ancestral, inherent rights.”

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Climate activists demonstrate in Calgary on Friday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

“In my territory, you’re see a lot of forestry, clear cutting,” he said in an interview on the sidelines. “The animals, they’re going away. The rivers and waters are being polluted.”

Dozens of other events are planned in cities across Canada, including Quebec City, Calgary and Vancouver. Other climate demonstrations were held around the world, including some 300 in Germany alone.

Attendees of the Canadian protests were there to denounce the role of colonialism and capitalism in contributing to climate change, but also more local issues, such as a $6-billion highway expansion in Ontario and the Quebec government’s decision to fence in threatened caribou herds.

In Montreal, the crowd skewed young and included many students, including 19-year-old Juliana Saroop. The Dawson College student said that at times she feels “overwhelmed and paralyzed” in the face of the climate crisis, but seeing the global protests makes her feel a little more hopeful.

“There’s a big difference in individual and global change, and right now we’re trying to fight for a bigger change,” Saroop said.

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A demonstrator dressed in an oversized green dinosaur costume is seen in Ottawa on Friday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

In Ottawa, protesters sported signs that read, “Don’t be a fossil fool,” and, “Every decision matters now.” Dozens turned out to support the climate protest, including a person dressed in an oversized green dinosaur costume who posed for photos while bearing a sign that read, “Don’t choose extinction.”

Protester Linda McCourt said she would like to see the government speed up on investing in the renewable energy sector.

“We should have done that already,” she said.

Organizer Sarah Scott said she was taking part in the climate strike because she is disappointed with actions that different levels of government have taken on climate change. She said she is also concerned with the effect the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having on the climate through subsidies for the oil markets.

In British Columbia, about 150 protesters gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery and then marched a few blocks to a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada.

LISTEN | The fight for ‘climate change reparations’: 


25:28The fight for ‘climate change reparations’

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is scathing: it lays out the stark divide between rich and poor nations’ ability to withstand global warming’s worst effects. This, just months after COP26 in Glasgow, where many delegates and activists were asking rich nations most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions to pay for the losses and damages that many developing nations are already experiencing from climate change. Demands for a specific compensation fund were not met. Today, Canadian human rights lawyer Payam Akhavan is here to explain how some small island nations are looking at how they can use international law to make rich countries pay up. He’s a senior fellow at Massey College at the University of Toronto, and a former UN war crimes prosecutor who has served on tribunals investigating genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Now, he’s helped establish the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, and is serving as the group’s legal counsel. 25:28

The group alleges RBC is one of Canada’s largest fossil fuel funders. Organizer Naisha Khan said protesters are calling on the bank to divest from fossil fuels.

“Banks and financial institutions have a very large role to play in funding the climate crisis,” Khan said in an interview.

“We are using the opportunity today, with the theme of ‘people not profit,’ to hold banks, specifically RBC, accountable for their role in funding climate chaos.”

WATCH | UN climate report warns of ‘rapidly closing’ window: 

Vlcsnap 2022 03 01 09H57M04S153 Copy.jpg?Crop=1

UN climate report warns of ‘rapidly closing’ window for action

The world is falling behind in adapting to the climate crisis as natural disasters get more frequent and severe, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Extreme weather events in Canada indicate that the consequences of inaction are already here. 2:06

RBC said in a statement that it “believes climate change is one of the world’s most pressing issues” and it is working with governments, its clients and other stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions in line with global targets for financial institutions.

“Traditional energy sources, like fossil fuels, are still necessary to support our daily lives,” RBC said.

“They are an essential bridge as we transition to, and the world develops, more sustainable sources of energy and builds the necessary infrastructure to support a greener future.”

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