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Nelson students skip classes for climate action

“Students are here because they can read,” says organizer
Photo: Bill Metcalfe In freezing but sunny weather, Nelson area students gathered on Monday in front of city hall and marched on Baker Street to tell adults and their governments to do more about the climate crisis. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

About 200 students skipped school Monday afternoon to march for climate action.

Alyssa Taburiaux, 19, one of the organizers, said she’s heard some people say it was just an excuse to get off of classes. She seemed surprised by this criticism.

“That is definitely not true,” she said. “Youth are here because they can read. They understand the seriousness of this issue.”

Daniella Sirois Ennis, 16, also an organizer, said kids are scared.

“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.”

Both students were happy with the turnout.

“I am feeling excited because this is a global movement,” Taburiaux 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.”

Students should not be expected to suggest answers, she said, echoing Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish leader of student strikes in Europe.

“Greta says the youth are not here to provide the solutions. We are not the scientists, not the experts. But it is time adults started listening to the scientists and the experts because we have 12 years.”

Taburiaux is referring to a 2018 report by the International Panel on Climate Change that states unless global warming is kept within 1.5 degrees over the next 12 years, the world will be faced with unprecedented risk of floods, drought, extreme heat and poverty.

So far in 2019, hundreds of thousands of European students have walked out of classrooms asking adults to do a better job of looking after them.

“Since our leaders are behaving like children we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago,” Thunberg told the European media. “We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what a mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”

Grade 10 LVR student Siddhartha Minhas, present at the strike on Monday, expressed admiration for Thunberg.

“It is remarkable how she has reached so many people, has the courage to stand up for what is right although she was alone in the beginning,” he said.

“It is starting a panic in everyone, getting them to realize climate change is coming and it is not going to wait for us to bide our time luxuriously. That is why people are coming here and realizing they need to do something and need to do it now.”

Taburiaux said there will be another local climate strike on May 3.

Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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