BLOG: First School Strike for Climate in Interior BC

Photo: Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily News

First School Strike for Climate in Interior BC

By Judy O’Leary, CCL Nelson-West Kootenay

The first school strike for the climate in Interior BC held March 4 was an enormous success. Despite bitterly cold weather, well over 200 students from around the region converged in front of Nelson City Hall for hours. Students as young as ten came from 10 different schools in the region.

The strike was organized by 16 year old Daniela Sirois and 19 year old Alyssa Taburiaux. Many of you met Alyssa at our 2016 lobbying days. Members of Nelson-West Kootenay CCL chapter provided some backup such as helping to organize a sound system and a city permit, but youth were clearly in charge. They even got an op ed published in the local paper.

“I am feeling excited because this is a global movement,” Alyssa said. “There are strikes happening like this all over the world. People will start listening because it is going to be pretty hard to ignore us…. it is time adults started listening to the scientists and the experts because we have 12 years.”

Her co-organizer Daniella said “We are scared because we don’t know what our future is going to look like, and it really is our future because we are the ones who will have to live with the decisions being made now.”

Youth organizers succeeded in getting four of the six local city councillors and the mayor to speak to the crowd of students. A staffer from our local MP’s office read a message of support from MP Wayne Stetski. Our local MLA Michelle Mungall, BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources also sent a positive message. Students were supported by vehicles honking horns as they drove past the protest.

That evening the Nelson City Council agreed to make climate change the overarching theme of their upcoming strategic planning.

Students gathered their signs and marched through downtown Nelson.  After some initial concern from police at the much larger than expected numbers, local police quickly and cheerfully closed down the streets for the march.

Photo: Bill Metcalfe, The Nelson Star

“I’m feeling excited because this is a global movement and there are strikes like this happening all over the world,” Daniella said. “I think this is a time when the youth are stepping up and people are going to start listening and it’s going to be pretty hard to ignore us. So, this is the time of action.” Since the strike in Nelson, student strikes were held in other interior locations including Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops on March 15, the international day for school climate strikes.

So what happens next?  Alyssa and Daniella are in touch with student leaders from schools around the region.  More school strikes for climate are being planned in those schools for May 3 when students across Canada will strike for climate.