Vancouver joins hundreds of cities around the world for a climate strike this Friday

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      In 2019, climate strikes were having their moment. Mass protests aimed at promoting climate justice and challenging politicians to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, largely organized by young people who felt short-changed by generations of inaction, erupted around the world. 

      Then COVID happened. The intervening years passed, bringing with them a myriad of local and large-scale climate concerns: a return to action at Wet’suwet’en; the Fairy Creek blockade; sporadic actions protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. A flood that destroyed a highway. A heat dome that killed hundreds. A fire season that was the US’s deadliest since 1918 and Canada’s worst in recorded history. 

      “People around the world have been facing insane wildfires, deadly floods, and that’s been no different here in Canada, where we’ve seen some of the most extreme weather conditions taking place in the last three years,” says Alison Bodine, an organizer with Metro Vancouver Climate Convergence and part of the Vancouver Climate Strike Coalition.

      The coalition includes over a dozen groups, from parents and kids to doctors and drumming bands, united in the belief that fossil fuel extraction needs to end urgently. 

      When Fridays for Future, the international climate movement founded from Greta Thunberg’s school strikes in 2018, started discussing plans for a global day of action for September 15, Bodine knew that Vancouver had to be involved.

      “Folks that are active in the climate justice movement in Vancouver started talking, we said, ‘Let’s come together and do a Vancouver climate strike as well,’” Bodine says. “Post COVID [restrictions], different organizations have been finding new ways to work together and wanting to organize together, and this is an excellent opportunity to join in this global movement.”

      Around Canada, rallies are expected to take place in 50 cities, with hundreds more happening across the world and a further day of action happening on September 17 in New York City.

      One of the big challenges has been figuring out what a climate strike looks like in 2023. As prices surge, crises multiply, and people become more tired and burnt out simply by trying to survive, protests can fall by the wayside. 

      “A lot of us are looking back at [2019] and saying, ‘What can we do to build momentum back to that point?’” says Bodine. “We’re hoping for a great action on Friday, and also for continuing this work together at such an urgent time.”

      The event is set to start at Vancouver City Hall at 1pm, marching downtown to the Vancouver Art Gallery and culminating with speakers and performers on the plaza starting at 3pm. Speakers include journalist Brandi Morin and activist Janelle Lapointe, alongside music and drag performances. There will also be activities for kids, because the whole event is designed to be peaceful and family friendly.

      In the spirit of school strikes, don’t be surprised if there are kids who look like they came from their classes. The organizers contacted all the local school boards to let them know about the event, with Vancouver, New West, and Burnaby school boards all voicing their support, according to Bodine. 

      And to maximize accessibility, people can join at different points if the whole march is too long; there’ll be masks available and ways for people to maintain social distancing; and the event will be livestreamed digitally for those that can’t attend in person.

      “We want to make this rally as accessible as possible,” Bodine says. “If we can see it as kind of a re-introduction for folks to what it means to mobilize in large numbers, it’s an excellent opportunity and an important opportunity.” 

      For her, one of the most important parts of the event is reminding people that collective action can be a really powerful way to channel rage or hopelessness into positive change. 

      “I think the biggest barrier for many folks is thinking that, in recognition of things getting worse, ‘What can we do? How is it possible for any of us to stop this?’” Bodine offers. “We’ve been really fortunate to form a coalition of groups that know that it is possible—to not only impact policy, but also to work on changing all of our mindsets to know that this better, greener world is possible. Getting together and mobilizing is one important way that we can express that.”  

      Vancouver Climate Strike 

      When: September 15, 1pm (start) at City Hall; Vancouver Art Gallery from 3pm

      Where: Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver

      More info: Vancouver Climate Strike