A Global Strike: The Fuel for Change

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A Global Strike: The Fuel for Change

On September 27th, 2019, Montreal will be part of what could be the largest climate change demonstration in history. This strike will wrap up the global week of international climate action. The Global Climate strike which began on the 20th of this month, is monumental when it comes to its participants. So far, it has been estimated that more than 4 million people participated, with over 2,500 events in over 163 countries. In New York alone, they allowed 1.1 million public school students to skip their classes for the cause according to NBC News. So, how did this all begin?

The “Greta Thunberg Effect”

In August 2018, a 15-year-old name Greta Thunberg took time off from school and held a sign that said “School Strike for the Climate” outside of the Swedish Parliament. In that short amount of time in which she demanded for stronger action against climate change, she started a global movement. Now, many other students are following in her footsteps. Thunberg has truly become the face of activism in terms of the climate crisis that is shaping our world, and our futures.

Montreal Schools Cancelling Classes:

“Why study for a future, which may not be there? Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?”fridaysforfuture.org

When similar protests were held in the past, several students who wanted to attend, were too nervous about missing classes, so they were unable to participate. Times are changing, as are the school boards views of what students should be permitted to do. While they don’t encourage students to follow the lead of Thunberg in the manner of skipping class every single Friday, Quebec’s largest school board, CSDM (Commission scolaire de Montréal) is extremely supportive of the strike. They will be switching a PED day that was originally scheduled for later in the year to be held on September 27th instead. This will provide all 114,000 students the opportunity to be a part of something life changing. Schools all over Montreal will be cancelling their classes to allow students to join Global Climate Strike. For example, Concordia, Dawson, Vanier, and Cégep du Vieux are cancelling classes from 11:45 A.M to 4 P.M. 

This is not to say that everyone worldwide agrees with this method of protesting. Michael McCormack, Acting Prime Minister of Australia stated, “These sorts of rallies should be held on a weekend where it doesn’t actually disrupt business, it doesn’t disrupt schools, it doesn’t disrupt universities […] I think it is just a disruption”. While many people could see these protests as merely “disruptions”, it’s making people take notice, and isn’t that the whole point?

Students and Businesses Join Forces

While students are the backbone of the cause, they are not the only ones wanting to see a difference. Several businesses and major companies have promised to contribute to the cause by closing their doors on the 27th, and/or altering business strategies to reduce their carbon footprint. Not Business as Usual for example, opens their website with the words, “It’s not business as usual for the world’s children to skip school to get adults to pay attention to the climate crisis.” They could not be more correct and 2,845 other companies (so far) who have joined the NBAU Alliance seem to agree. They go on to say how important it is for businesses to join the students in order to pressure the government to make changes. However, just like it was with McCormack, some companies aren’t as enthused about the outcome of these call to actions.

“Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said it expected more than 1,600 employees would walk off their job sites to protest what they called the company’s lack of action in addressing the climate crisis […] marchers on Friday stopped in front of an Amazon Go retail store in San Francisco, where someone with a megaphone denounced the company’s environmental and labor policies. Amazon locked the doors to the store, effectively shutting down the location temporarily.” –  NBC News

You can do your part to ask companies to be more involved from the comfort of your own home by signing petitions and aiding pledges. For instance, you can urge Facebook to ban all advertising by fossil fuel corporations on its site. Small actions can turn into a worldwide phenomenon, which Thunberg is a prime example of.

Get Involved

If you’re interested in joining the movement, it’s never too late! On September 27th in Montreal, the march will start at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument on Avenue du Parc at 12 P.M. There, you will see Thunberg herself, who will be there to support fellow protestors. For more information and to find more local strikes, visit the Official Website here. You can also view beautiful photos of the strikes being held worldwide, here and if you want updates, The Guardian has been doing really well at sharing real time coverage, which you can see by following this link.

We’ll definitely be at the march this friday, what about you?

By Joanna Ahti