The rainy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of student protesters participating in a student walkout to push for governmental action on man-made climate change.
Over 150 students participated in the rally at the TFDL quad in front of the MacEwan Student Center, garnering more attention and participants as organizers made speeches and rallied the crowd.
The public event was organized and led by Students for Direct Action (SDA), supported by YYC For a Green New Deal, Our Time Calgary and Extinction Rebellion. The event’s page described the goal of the walkout as to “bring global focus to the climate crisis and to bring this emergency to the forefront of the upcoming Canadian federal election.”
Mateusz Salmassi, organizer of the SDA and member of YYC For a Green New Deal, was ecstatic with the turnout.
“We’ve been really organizing I’d say for about a month,” Salmassi commented. “Ever since the announcements that the global strikes would be happening we knew we had to mobilize.”
Following the initial rally on the steps of the MacEwan Student Centre, the group marched around and through MacHall before returning to the steps once more. During the march even more students joined in, pushing the attendance towards the 200 range.
“The Earth is on fire,” declared a second-year chemistry student. “In my opinion, we can speak out all we want, but until the leaders of the world actually act to make a change, there isn’t going to be a significant difference on what’s going on.”
In response to the turnout, Salmassi replied, “Is this even possible? I’m losing my marbles with joy!”
Another student participating in the walkout, education student Kelsey Mackenzie, said she’s participating in the walkout because it’s extremely important.
“We need to stand alongside our youth and our future.”
Others were not as enthusiastic. “The only thing that I would say is this whole system, this whole climate change thing, it’s obviously a UN agenda,” said Liam Ostrowski, a third-year commerce student. “I don’t think it’s grassroots; I think it’s people from outside the university trying to do a message that most of the student body doesn’t agree with.”
The walkout was followed by taking transit down to Calgary City Hall, where a march and protest at noon took place with an estimated 1,000 participants packing the plaza area.
In response to the walkout for climate change action, SU President Jessica Revington commented, “We’re proud to see students on our campus standing up for this cause. The SU is committed to sustainability on our campus, and seeing students speaking out for climate change action is incredibly encouraging.”
This article will be updated as needed with further developments or comments from participants.