Friday saw massive crowds of people across the planet attend rallies demanding action on climate change and in Edmonton, a couple hundred young people marched downtown before taking part in a “die-in” to draw attention to what they fear may happen if politicians don’t act on the issue.
“We all gathered and then we marched down Jasper Avenue, and once we arrived at our destination, which is right here in this little cul-de-sac (at Canada Place), we did a die-in, which is where everyone shows what will happen if we do nothing,” said Abram Ilcisin, a 16-year-old organizer with Edmonton Youth for Climate.
“So we pretended to be dead by lying on the floor and showing that this is what our bodies will look like… if nothing is done.”
READ MORE: City of Edmonton declares climate emergency
The event was also promoted by the group Climate Justice Edmonton.
Across the world on Friday, the so-called Global Climate Strike saw many children skip school to take part in the day of action meant to pressure political leaders to tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. Summit.
Watch below: Some videos of climate change protests held across the world on Friday.
“I’m here to make some change,” said 19-year-old Kiersten Hepburn, a third-year student at McEwan University who studies science and ecology. “I think we’re very behind in what we’re doing to help the climate and help fix the climate crisis.
“I think it’s kind of an issue that tops the rest of them because it’s a do-or-die kind of situation. The economy is not going to matter if we’re all gone.”
Hepbrun and other protesters Global News spoke to said they believe climate change is a critical issue that needs to be at or near the top of candidates’ priorities as they campaign for votes ahead of next month’s federal election.
“I find governments aren’t treating it… like the crisis that it is,” Hepburn said. “And I think that’s a really big fault on their part, especially since it is our entire planet, like, this is a life or death kind of thing.”
Ilcisin said while he believes voting is important, he hopes Friday’s rally will show Canadians they can “actually show your support [for the cause] in other ways than just a vote once every four years.”
“We live in a democracy and as this is one of the biggest issues,” he said.
“It should be one of the biggest points on each candidate’s radar.”
Portia Morin, a 17-year-old high school student who attended Friday’s rally, said she believes more people need to acknowledge climate change is real and “that it’s happening.” Morin also said she believes Indigenous voices need to be heard more when it comes to talking about environmental issues in Canada.
“I believe that Indigenous people need to have as much of a voice as other people in the world,” she said. “You hear a bunch of people talking about equality, but we leave out this big huge part of our society… It’s pretty sad because Indigenous people have so much to say.”
Organizers of Friday’s protest said the climate strike is partly inspired by protests promoted by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has become an influential global figure on the issue.
Watch below: Some videos about Greta Thunberg.
Organizers also said they believe Canada is not doing enough to meet the commitments it made in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and that they are concerned by Canada’s ongoing extraction of fossil fuels.
“Sometimes, I think we (young people) are heard, but a lot of the time it’s kind of brushed off as like, ‘It’s just the youth,’ and we don’t know what we’re doing, which is complete bullcrap,” Hepburn said.
–With files from The Associated Press