My brother and I didn’t prepare any poster or costume or poetry for Montreal’s last big climate strike. We just got off at Place-Des-Arts and listened to speeches in a December cold and shouted our voices dry with 50,000 other voices.
We strode to Mount Royal. Protestors were beating the drum, dancing and shouting their way up to the mountain. Women yelled praises out their house windows, clapping their pots and pans with wooden spoons to us down in the street. It was a real gay delight and the peoples spirit which is bottled up at work and on metros emerged, and students forgot all their work and rushed out of coffee houses to join.
This Friday, March 15th, there is the same scene forming up again under the banner of “La planète s’invite à l’université.” According to the best numbers, there’s already 60,000 rabble-rousers tuning-in. Such size, such grandeur – I cannot resist.
This protest follows the call of the 16-year old Swedish activist, Gretta “change is on the horizon” Thunberg. Her speech at the UN was clever and convincing. The spectre of Gretta’s mass student protests is hanging over Europe, grappling in the mud for greater attention for climate change.
Concordia has voted and agreed to strike.
McGill has also organized a walkout.
There is hardly a French university on the list that has not done the same.
Preparatory poster making events have been popular in all cases.
The demands made by the movement are modest. They ask that the limitations on emissions become legally binding. If successful, Quebec would help keep temperature rise at 1.5°, already such a high and unmistakably catastrophic change. It is not hopeful that Quebec is already set on abandoning this goal.
The movement asks that educational supplements be implemented which respond to our state of ecological crisis. Universities are also being told to abandon their investment in the fossil fuel industry.
Throwing their support behind these students and their charter is an odd grouping…
Calling for “radical and rapid” changes, 359 scientists (mostly from Quebec) have signed a letter of endorsement. They write, “the extreme catastrophes we have seen is a taste of what’s to come if inaction continues…. We understand if youth are having trouble studying as if nothing’s changed.”
Quebec Solidaire will be showing up with its own wing, likely some several hundred strong. The party’s leaders, Manon Massé and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, will be joining the students on the streets.
Even the CSN, one of Quebec’s largest trade unions, with 300,000 members, has contributed to the popular base. “It is delightful to see to what point the young will mobilize for the future of their planet,” said the CSN’s president Jacques Létourneau.
Vanier, Back Outside
Vanier students will be organizing at the college’s main entrance at 12pm for a walk to the metro. From there they will arrive at Place-Des-Arts and will make their way to the foot of Mont Royal park for 1pm, to be joined by the rest of Quebec’s students.
Marya Grant, Vanier’s Sustainability Adviser has organized this meeting. I caught her in her office, hiding out in student life. “If we don’t take care of the world that we live in we won’t have a future” she said. “I have a child and I have a vested interest in making sure that he has a future.”
Written by: Samuel Helguero