Sixteen-year-old Destiny Fraser has been trying to take care of her planet for as long as she can remember.
“I knew since I was little that we had to recycle, sort our garbage and simple stuff like that,’’ she says.
Destiny knows climate change is a big problem – a crisis, in fact. No need, she adds, to pretend otherwise.
“We just need to save our planet because it’s the only planet that we have,’’ she says.
Destiny, who moved to P.E.I. from Nigeria two years ago, wants Canada’s next federal government to take strong action in addressing the climate crisis and not just to offer cheap talk on the critical issue.
Destiny has been inspired by activists taking charge to raise alarm over the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis, notably 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who started a movement called #FridaysForFuture calling for students to strike.
Hundreds of Island students gathered outside Province House in Charlottetown on Friday to add their voice to the throngs of others who hit the streets across Canada and the world for another round of global climate strikes. Global climate strikes kicked off Sept. 20 with a week of climate activities.
The UN emergency climate summit, held on Sept. 23, fell between the two climate strike dates.
UPEI political science student Chloe Greene, 18, of Kensington walked to Province House from the university with about 30 fellow students to take part in the boisterous rally.
“Well, we came because we want change,’’ she says.
Greene, who uses public transit to get to university each day, would like the country’s next government to put an “adequate plan’’ in place to address the climate crisis.
She hopes one day to be in public office in a position to influence positive approaches to dealing with climate change.
Event organizer Tony Reddin was pleased with the large turnout of youth, as well as adults from all walks of life.
“Well, this is what we’re looking for, of course,’’ he says.
Reddin led hundreds of people through the streets of Charlottetown, with local police doing a good job keeping protesters safe from motorists, picking selected spots to gather and call for action.
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown was loudly urged for the municipality to “act faster’’ in addressing climate change.
Brown promised to do so.
The mayor’s office sent out a release Friday noting the city is currently participating in a project led by QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow) on developing community resilience to Climate Change. The end product will be a Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation assessment report for the City of Charlottetown in 2019-2020.
The procession also made stops at MP Sean Casey’s Charlottetown constituency office, The Guardian office, where the media was told to provide better coverage of climate change, and finally to the Coles Building, where the provincial legislature meets.
Megan Burnside of Charlottetown came to the rally with her husband, Randy Campbell, and the couple’s eight-month-old daughter Gemma and two-year-old son Alec.
She says action is needed now.
“I think that climate change is real, and it is happening, and we have to act quickly if we want to make sure that the future is secured for this generation and for generations to come,’’ she says.
Burnside says the next federal government needs to work to eliminate fossil fuels and restore the environment, so it “can do its own work in making the planet healthy again. And we need to look at funding businesses and initiatives that help the environmental cause.’’
Burnside says she tries to do her part for the environment by buying used items and purchasing food sourced in the province or as close as possible.
She also tries to refrain from driving long distances and plans to continue to add her voice to a call for action.
Katie Shaw, 16, of Stratford puts the climate crisis – something she calls a really big issue – into perspective.
“This is something affecting everyone,’’ she says.
“It doesn’t matter what country you are living in, what your race, ethnicity or class is. This is our only planet. So, this is the biggest issue I think that we are facing as a human race and I think that it should really be seen that way.’’