Greater Victoria students ditch class to strike for action on climate change

Students rally for climate change in Victoria’s Centennial Square on Sept. 24, 2021. (CTV News)

More than 300 middle and high school students from across Greater Victoria walked out of classes to take part in the “Our Earth – Our Future” strike for climate action on Friday.

The student strike was organized by two Vic High students who say they are rallying for all climate injustice, from old-growth logging in Fairy Creek to the plight of the endangered Southern Resident Killer whales. They say by holding the rally, youth will feel empowered to speak up and demand an end to the catastrophic effects of climate change.

“When we speak, it’s so important that we are heard by other people,” said rally co-organizer Solange Dorsainvile. “If it means we have to leave school and be on the streets so people can hear us, that’s what we have to do, because its our future and our children’s future.”

After acknowledging the territory and unceded rights of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ speaking peoples, the group marched to Victoria’s Centennial Square.

Once there, students heard speeches from activists about the need to protect old-growth forests as a means sequester carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We’re fighting Canada’s lack of action against climate change,” said rally co-organizer Talia Collins. “It’s so frustrating to see all this talk about climate change and climate action, but no real action and no real laws are being put in place.”

Collins says she wants to see an end to fracking and is calling for an end to oil tanker traffic in the waters off Vancouver Island.

“We don’t see any real action, but we hear lots of talk from the NDP, we hear lots of talk from Trudeau, but I’m not seeing any true action,” said Collins. “It’s very frustrating, and as someone who can’t vote, it doesn’t seem like democracy to me.”

Collins says events, like the student strike, are important because they bring a diverse group of young people together to talk about the damaging effects of climate change.

Collins says she is calling for oil exploration and pipelines to be de-funded. She says companies and governments need to make more investments in green technology to end people’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“The future just needs to become more green,” said Collins. “We know our time is running out and we speak of economic balance, but there is no 50/50 balance between economic development and the environment as long as we continue to rely on fossil fuels.”

Collins says there needs to be a focused effort to expand public transit and produce green sources of electricity throughout the country.

“These are things that need to happen in order for us to meet our carbon goals by 2050,” said Collins. “I’m here because I want to give youth a platform and I want people to feel supported and uplifted.”

Collins says she and Dorsainvile will continue to organize student strikes until all levels of government take concrete steps to avert the climate crisis.