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Metro Vancouver students walk out of class, demanding climate action

Last Updated Mar 15, 2019 at 2:35 pm PDT

Hundreds of students gather to "strike" for climate action at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Source: facebook.com/sustainabiliteens)

Young people worry politicians have not done enough to protect the climate, are taking matters into their own hands

Organization led by Metro Vancouver teens hopes it can convince people to consider the climate when voting

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Hundreds of high school students around Metro Vancouver walked out of classes Friday to demand politicians treat climate change as an emergency.

Sustainabiliteens Vancouver, an organization led by young adults, is leading the charge on the walkout. Rebecca Hamilton, a 16-year-old student from Lord Byng Secondary, is one of the few local “strike” organizers.

Hamilton says people her age worry lack of action by politicians today will ultimately affect her generation’s future.

“As young people, we are saying, ‘This is it.’ We’re taking action now,” Hamilton said.

Sustainabiliteens aims to raise awareness of climate change and push governments to take the issue seriously.

“Climate change disproportionately impacts those who least caused it. To me, this is also a justice issue — knowing the emissions I am producing here in North America are literally killing people in other parts of the world,” Hamilton said.

“Action is the only cure for despair, for climate grief and climate anxieties.”

March 15 marks the first of weekly student walk-outs until May 3 to bring awareness about a climate crisis.

Friday’s rally took place Friday at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Participants marched to the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Hamilton hopes Sustainabiliteens’ actions will pressure federal politicians to include a plan for the climate crisis in the upcoming election.

The group says it also intends to “walk the walk” and ensure no garbage is left behind from the rally. Jinny Yun, a member of Zerowaste Learning, heard about a mess that was left behind after a climate march in 2015.

“We are fighting for climate change, and we’re fighting for the health of our earth. If we’re littering all over the place during the strike, then doesn’t line up with what we are fighting for,” Yun said.

The world-wide student “strike” is inspired by a Swedish student who held a sign that read, “School strike for climate” outside the Swedish Riksdag. She inspired teens around the world to take part in walkouts.