“Denial is Not a Policy”

Thousands filled the street with signs and banners demanding climate action 

Alisha Samnani // Contributor  
Christine Wei // Illustrator

An estimated 100,000 people filled the streets surrounding Vancouver City Hall on Sept. 27 in participation with the Global Climate Strike. This came only a few days after 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations at the Climate Change Summit, where she reprimanded world leaders for inaction regarding climate change.

A sea of people shut down the Cambie Bridge and brought downtown traffic to a halt as they marched towards the CBC headquarters in the heart of Vancouver. The signs that accompanied them were a colourful mix of reused items, ranging from cardboard box flaps, to Bristol board perched atop of temporarily repurposed curtain rods.

Sustainabiliteens, the youth organizers of Vancouver’s climate strike, had hoped that 15,000 people would join, but Nikolas Michael said he was thrilled to see such a remarkable turnout. “We have a short window to act,” said Michael. “We are trying to effect change as constituents and engaged citizens.”

Emily Bridge, CSU President and Vice President Equity and Sustainability, was one of several young people who attended the event. “It was really encouraging,” said Bridge regarding the event turnout. “To everyone that showed up or who made a statement that day, I just want to say how proud I am of our community.” Bridge was one of the organizers of the CSU walkout, which involved CSU members skipping work that day, as well as mobilizing students to join the CSU at the climate strike and sending a petition to Capilano University in a bid to have them declare a climate emergency.

Bridge said that while Capilano University technically put out a statement, they could have taken a much stronger stance regarding climate strike participation. “Understanding that it is part of a delicate political situation, the statement [put out by the President’s Office] could have been worded stronger [and] could have encouraged greater action.”

Michael, a senior at Sutherland Secondary in North Vancouver, said that while the timing of the strike was coincidental, it’s something that voters should take advantage of when heading to the ballot box on Oct. 21. “We have a few more events planned before the election,” revealed the Sustainabiliteens organizer. “You should expect another strike to take place before the new year.”

In the meantime, both Bridge and Michael encourage voting as a means of pushing the climate change agenda. “Use your vote to choose a climate leader,” said Bridge. “Every party, whether they have an official stance on the climate crisis, climate emergency, whatever they’re calling it—they’ve realized that this is a topical issue. It’s really become one of the top priorities, not just for students but for everyone. I would hope that it either encourages students to think more about voting or about their own political engagement.”

Michael added that voters should reflect on not only the best suited party to best address the climate crisis, but also the party that will best address the various causes of the climate crisis. Michael also encouraged people to vote with their dollars. “Our lifestyle plays a large role in climate change and consumers should be aware of this,” he said.

The turnout for the climate strike was incredible, both in Vancouver and across the country. If youth can demonstrate the same level of turnout at the voting booths, imagine the difference it would have for Canada.

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