Three local high school students who participated in last month’s school climate strike presented to the RDCK’s Community Sustainable Living Advisory Committee recently.
This is another aspect of the Fridays for Future movement, where youth around the world are having meetings with elected representatives to learn what is being done about the climate crisis and push for more action.
“We appreciated the opportunity to present,” said Daniel Reilly, 14, a student at L.V. Rogers Secondary. “The process was very interesting. It gave me a deeper look into politics and how decisions are made.”
In their presentation, they each talked about why they are concerned about climate change. They discussed, among other things, the unfairness of older generations leaving them with an uncertain future, the fear of directly experiencing climate change impacts, and being inspired by 16-year old Greta Thunberg of Sweden and the school climate strike movement.
“We always listen to our parents when they ask us to clean up our mess,” said Michael Penner, 15, a student at Mount Sentinel Secondary. “But when we ask adults to fix the climate mess, they don’t seem to listen to us.”
“Climate change is a threat to humankind,” continued Penner. “We need to get the word out that if nothing is done in the next 11 years, we will face unpredicted threats that will severely challenge human kind.”
The group had several specific asks of the RDCK. One of those was for the RDCK to declare a climate emergency. It was a timely request, as the committee was debating a climate emergency declaration at that same meeting (see related story, page 12).
Ultimately the majority of committee members preferred “climate action imperative” over “climate emergency” to avoid what some were concerned might be polarizing language. Not everyone agreed, and several directors spoke strongly about the emergency situation we are in, as floods, wildfires, and extreme weather are becoming more commonplace.
The declaration of climate action imperative subsequently passed without dissent at the RDCK board meeting. A summer intern, who is already funded, will determine how this imperative might impact future programming.
“It was a great opportunity to hear the opinions of those representing our whole region, and their support of a climate change imperative,” said Jade Osecki, 15, also at L.V. Rogers. “It was also fantastic to hear their support for youth activism, with some directors sharing that they were also youth activists.”
“We appreciated that they provided us with reports, and offered that youth could be more involved in some of their committees,” continued Osecki. “We look forward to getting involved.”
The next school strike for the climate is planned for Nelson and other communities in the regional district on May 3, corresponding to a continent-wide strike day. The Nelson strike starts at noon at City Hall.