The expectations of Wyanne Sandler, a co-organizer of the Antigonish chapter of the Global Climate Strike, were exceeded by the turnout on March 15 outside town hall – and eventually the offices of Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser.
“We were really pleased with the number of people who came out and happy to see people of all ages,” Sandler said. “This rally was in solidarity with the global climate change strike and the Fridays For Future movement.”
The Fridays For a Future movement began in 2018. It is a series of strikes by young people across the world walking out of school on Fridays, protesting what they see as a lack of action on their governments to address climate change.
This movement inspired by the silent strikes performed each Friday by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who began sitting in front of the Swedish parliament building in protest.
Thunberg has said her protests will continue until the Swedish government adequately addresses climate change risks in their climate policies.
The rally in Antigonish was one of many, going on in 112 countries around the world, involving more than 1.4 million students and young people.
Sandler estimated that a crowd of about 60 to 70 people attended the first part of the rally, at its peak, in front of the town hall. About 50 of those people made the trip to the offices of Fraser and Delorey later in the afternoon.
People from a wide variety of demographic showed up with children, teens, adults and seniors alike showing support for climate action, many holding signs and banners.
“It’s wonderful to see that many out and engaged, and that’s what this is really about; having a space to acknowledge that it’s young people who are most affected by climate change,” Sandler said. “Their future is the one that hangs in the balance, and our governments need to be responding to the calls for action from our youth.”
Within the first 20 minutes of the event, about 30 people had already shown up, with more on the way. The crowd drew the support of passersby as well, with motorists passing the rally honking or waving to acknowledge them.
When the rally proceeded to the offices of Fraser and Delorey, neither were present, but Sandler noted the rally-goers received a positive response from staff at the offices.
“They acknowledged we were there and how important it was that people take action and work together it implement changes that are needed to take action on climate change,” Sandler said. “It was a great response, and I appreciated the commitment to take action.”
The group in Antigonish was part of a greater movement that saw people in 300 cities take part.
“I think it was great, and there are a number of us who wanted to be part of the global movement, on a local level,” Sandler said. “It’s great that you see this everywhere, from small towns like Antigonish to big cities. People are taking action and calling on governments to do more.”