Hundreds of student protesters gathered outside of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly on Friday to call for government action against climate change.
The rally aimed to push the provincial government towards policy mitigating climate change, specifically through implementing renewable energy sources, ending deforestation, protecting wildlife, banning single use plastics and upholding Canada’s agreement to the Paris Accords.
Protesters of all ages attended, including seniors, families with children in strollers and students from grade school through university.
This is the second time students have tried to organize a climate change rally at the legislature. A protest in support of the federal carbon tax on Friday, Feb. 15 was cut short after less than 10 people attended.
Many students skipped classes to attend. Five students from Nashwaaksis Middle School reported encouragement from their teachers, who supported their choice to attend the rally instead of class. They felt that helping champion climate action was more important to them than sitting in class.
“This is our future. They don’t know what it’s like to have this to look forward to,” one student said.
Chief Alan Polchies of St. Mary’s First Nation was the first to speak at the rally, discussing the importance of protecting the land that nourishes our communities.
“We need to take care of this land, for the seven generations to come,” Polchies said.
A song from Passamaquoddy elder Maggie Paul followed Polchies’ speech.
Hannah Moore, a St. Thomas University intern at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, also delivered a speech, as well as David Coon, Fredericton South MLA and Green Party leader. Coon called for specific government action to address climate change.
“We need a government that will actively move toward positive change,” he said.
The microphone was then made available for anyone to share a message with the crowd. Individual protesters took this opportunity to give short speeches and lead songs and chants. Many individuals carried signs denouncing the destruction of current natural resources, warning of impending negative effects and calling for action.
A small number of anti-climate change advocates were present, sporting yellow vests and attempting to shout over the speeches and songs. They were quickly drowned out by chants of “climate change is not a hoax” and “change the system not the climate.”
Organizers said if additional rallies can produce a similar crowd once a month, the government might start paying attention.