Climate Strike in Vancouver: SFU CMNS Perspective

November 13, 2019
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Last month around 100,000 people turned up on the streets of Vancouver to take a stand on climate change. Participants of all ages gathered near Vancouver City Hall for the noon rally and an hour later marched across the Cambie Bridge towards downtown Vancouver. The walk culminated at the Vancouver Public Library Plaza, where representatives of youth climate organizations and activists delivered a speech. 

The participants demanded climate justice and actionable measures from politicians to address the environmental issues and climate change. The message is particularly significant since the Canadian federal election is happening in October 2019.

Students and faculty members of SFU School of Communication took part in the march. They shared their impressions and the reason why they joined the movement.

Jenn Mentanko, Master’s Student 

“The most striking thing I noticed was the amount of young (elementary age) kids that were in attendance. Not only that, they were genuinely passionate about the cause. I expected high school/junior high majority but it was cool to see so many young people participating. Also, lots of creative signs. I attended because Greta is personally inspirational to me and I wanted to support her cause. Climate change should be a major focus of this year’s election and I hope this march made that evident. For the future, I hope federal, provincial and local politicians make climate change a top priority.” 

Photo contributed by Jenn Mentanko

Photo taken by David Murphy

 

Shane Gunster, Associate Professor 

"Participating in the Friday climate strike was an incredible experience -- being surrounded by so many engaged, passionate and creative young people committed to fighting for climate justice was inspirational. This feels like the start of something really powerful and transformative, a movement that's willing and able to challenge the forces that are currently blocking the radical change (and better future) that so many of us want. Can't wait for the next one!"

Lea Hogan (they/them/their), Master of Arts

“I went to the Climate Strike because our government and corporations need to be implicated in our time of crisis. The amount of people (more than I can comprehend) who came out in Vancouver was overwhelming but showed how many of us care for our future, our livelihood, and for our planet. Our governments and corporations need to act NOW, create a plan that addresses pollution, and recognize this is a global effort for everyone, not just the citizens.”

 

Photo taken by Irwin Oostindie

Photo taken by David Murphy

 

David Murphy, Senior Lecturer 

“I observed thousands of young people sharing their concerns in a peaceful and positive way. We should do this every Friday until we stop focusing on fossil fuel as our main source of power. Alternatives in transportation and HVAC systems have to be developed and adopted. Climate change is one of the most important issues in our society today. This is the reason I attended the event.”

Robert Hackett, Professor Emeritus, Visiting Fellow at University of Canterbury. 

As a visiting fellow in New Zealand, Dr. Hackett attended the climate change rally in Christchurch, New Zealand. He shared his reflections on Rabble.ca. "Sustained political opposition from just a heavily engaged three per cent of the population was sufficient to overthrow authoritarian governments in eastern Europe during the 1980s and 1990s. That was a rather different political and historical context. But three per cent is a worthy benchmark to aim for in the era of planetary emergency -- especially if it's the generation that must bear the brunt of its consequences." Read the full blog post here.

 

Photo taken by Dr. Andrew Feenberg

Environmental communication studies and social movements are one of the main areas of research at SFU School of Communication. Our faculty members and students explore the historical, political, and economic dimensions of climate change and research about the potential communication-driven strategies and solutions. 

Vancouver’s Global Climate Strike belongs to a series of events that was organized nationally and internationally to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. The strike was inspired by #FridaysForFuture movement launched by a 16 years old environmental activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden.