Inspired by the tenacity of a teenager in Sweden, nearly 20 people took part in a “climate strike” Friday morning outside the Orillia City Centre.
Greta Thunberg, 16, has been making headlines globally since last fall, when she organized a student climate strike outside the Swedish parliament building.
“There hasn’t been a lot of support locally. This a global movement and I want to support it,” said Ellen Field, who organized Friday’s demonstration in Orillia.
Field, a member of the faculty of education at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus who is a researcher in climate change education, registered the event on Thunberg’s Climate Strike on Fridays website Thursday afternoon. The fact almost 20 people showed up despite the short notice showed Field the issue of climate change is “high in people’s minds.”
“The issue is resonating with many people,” Field said.
One of those people is Heather Morrison, who brought her two-year-old daughter, Bronwyn King, with her to Friday’s demonstration.
“We need to do something,” Morrison said. “(Bronwyn) is not old enough to vote, but she’s going to grow up with this. We need to do something for them now.”
Taking serious action on climate change is something that should have been done a long time ago, Field said.
“It’s the 11th hour. It would have been great for this to happen in 2000,” she said. “As adults, we have a moral obligation to support young people.”
A group of Lakehead students, including Gia Spiropoulos, joined Field on Friday.
“We’re supporting the climate strikes that are happening worldwide,” she said. “We want to bring awareness to the community and keep the conversation going. Hopefully, this sparks the conversation.”
Chris Petersen took part Friday in honour of his friend, Dave Vasey, an environmental activist who died in February.
“We need more hope,” Petersen said, “and collective engagement like this is a good start.”
Field wants to see the momentum continue — and intensify. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the need to drastically reduce carbon emissions by 2030.
“We have 12 years and we are not on track,” Field said.
The City of Orillia recently approved the formation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Sustainability, which aims to raise awareness of climate change and take action at a local level.
That’s a positive step, Field said, but she added more action needs to be taken by higher levels of government around the world if meaningful results are to be achieved.
The next climate strike is set for May 3.