On Saturday, I saw red. Not because I was mad, but because tens of thousands of people were holding up red Bristol boards, and wearing red scarves, red hats, red sweaters, and red pants and forming a giant human thermometer in the heart of Quebec City.
In advance of this week’s premiers’ meeting on climate change, we rallied in the streets of Quebec City to send a strong message: pipelines and climate action don’t mix, and the federal lack of action on climate means that provinces have a responsibility to step up.
Over 25,000 people participated in the family friendly Act on Climate March. It was one of the biggest climate marches in Canadian history!
People came from as far away as Fredericton, Toronto, Edmonton and Northern BC. Over 80 buses came to Quebec City from across Quebec and Ontario. People travelled by carpool from as far away as PEI. Participants included representatives of First Nations, unions, environmental organizations, student associations, citizen’s groups, journalists, and people for whom this was their first march.
Many of the people I spoke to had similar reasons for attending the march: this was a moment in history too important to miss.
First Nations led the march through the city and provided powerful words for the attendees, and for everyone watching from across the country. “The damage the tar sands are causing to First Nations is something I cannot accept,” said Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.
In addition to the march in Quebec City, solidarity actions took place across Canada, from North Bay to Winnipeg, Halifax to Vancouver. From coast to coast to coast, Canadians raised their voices, demanding meaningful climate action.
Today, Ontario’s Premier did indeed step up. This morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that Ontario will implement a cap and trade system on carbon pollution, intended to reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint. Revenue generated will be put towards efforts that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Details to come, but this announcement gives us hope for leadership on climate.
Personally, I’m buoyed by optimism, enthusiasm and drive to continue working for climate action. Walking with thousands of people through Quebec City was an incredibly moving experience.
When it comes to demanding climate action, we will work together regardless of where we come from, our backgrounds and our identities and we will create leadership where none exists. We cannot wait – climate change certainly won’t.