ICYMI: An incredible month for one of Canada’s leading young voices for climate action – Sophia Mathur

Sophia Mathur at the September 20, 2019 Global Climate March in New York

An incredible month for one of Canada’s leading young voices for climate action – Sophia Mathur

by Carole Williams, CCL Oakville

Sophia Mathur, one of CCL’s youngest members, seemed to be everywhere in November—making a number of high-profile appearances, and cementing her reputation as a climate activist powerhouse. At just 13, Sophia has emerged as one of Canada’s most important voices in the fight against climate change. 

On Nov. 6 she was featured in the Nature of Things 60th-anniversary episode “The Rebellion”. Host David Suzuki profiled Sophia, along with other dynamic, young leaders driving the global climate change protests of the past two years. “What’s the point of going to school and studying for a future that I can’t live in because of the climate crisis,” she says in the documentary.

On Nov. 9 Sophia joined iconic Canadian elders David Suzuki and Lloyd Axworthy, Chair of the World Refugee & Migration Council, at Massey College’s “Massey is Missing Cop26” conference on why climate change matters to all Canadians. They discussed obstacles and opportunities for tackling climate change amidst a pandemic and a crisis of leadership, despite decades of activism.

Keeping up her remarkable pace, on Nov. 12 Sophia participated in an Ontario NDP Town Hall on climate change hosted by Marit Stiles, NDP MPP for Davenport. Also appearing were Keith Stewart from Greenpeace Canada; Ian Arthur, MPP Kingston and the Islands; and climate change author Monica Krista de Vera.

Image: David Leblanc

On the very same day, Ecojustice Canada celebrated a huge victory as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in favour of the case brought by Sophia and six other young Ontarians, against the Ford government for weakening Ontario’s climate targets. This is the first time a Canadian court has ruled that fundamental rights protected under the Charter can be threatened by climate change and citizens have the ability to challenge a Canadian government’s action on the climate crisis under the highest law in the land. The ruling allowing the case to proceed comes almost a year to the day Sophia and seven other young people had filed a lawsuit against the Ford government for weakening Ontario’s climate targets in 2018. 

This week she also participated in a wide-ranging interview with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who recognized the important role Sophia is playing in growing the grassroots movement for climate action. “There seems to be a divide between politicians saying that young people are the leaders of the future. But it’s pretty clear that young people like you are actually the leaders of today on climate change,” said Ms. Horwath. The meeting with Ms Horwath was organized by Sophia’s Member of Provincial Parliament, Jamie West. 

Image: Vanessa Tignanelli

CBC Kids News also profiled a Halloween event organized by Sophia and her local Fridays For Future Group. The event featured a “shoe strike”—150 pairs of shoes representing climate protestors who couldn’t be there in person.  Sudbury MPP Jamie West and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas attended and awarded Sophia’s group with a certificate for raising awareness of climate change.  

On top of that, she also lobbied her MP, Paul Lefebvre for border carbon adjustments and was the youngest youth delegate at the ParlAmericas sessions, which brought parliamentarians and youth together from across the Americas. Lastly, Sophia was awarded the reThink Green youth sustainability award this past month too. 

Congratulations Sophia—you make us proud!