By John Ployer
Every Friday demonstrators stand in front of Province House to raise awareness of climate change (photo credits: Ben Macintosh)
It’s been a cold few weeks in Prince Edward Island, but that hasn’t stopped a small group from standing outside of Province House every Friday.
The group braves the cold for one hour every week, holding signs to oncoming traffic and greeting pedestrians.
Their message is simple: the time for action on climate change is now.
Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the group has been standing outside PEI’s seat of government weekly since spring 2019 in demonstrations called “Fridays for Future.” About a dozen people attended last Friday’s demonstration.
Similar demonstrations occur across the world every Friday.
Michael Pagé told the Cadre that he started coming early on.
“I decided that this is the year that things have to happen,” he said.
“I got to do something and the simplest thing you can do is stand outside for one hour a week urging people to get involved.”
Outside of the weekly demonstrations, the group has also started lobbying the municipal and provincial governments to take action and fight climate change.
Christine Gates started coming because she felt that doing something was better than staying home discouraged.
“It’s better than just being depressed,” she said.
Gates says she has only missed one Friday since she started coming.
Everyone at the demonstration said they were inspired to act because of Thunberg. More than one person also mentioned a well-known report signed by 11,000 scientists last year that warned of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” as a motivator of the Fridays for Future movement.
David Woodbury, one of the organizers and an “Islander by choice,” said that one of his reasons for being out every week is because university-age people are not.
“All around the world students are out every Friday. Here on the island for some reason there are very few young people coming out,” he said.
Woodbury has only missed one Friday since he started, and that was when he was in Montreal marching with Thunberg and 500,000 other people in September.
Woodbury would like to see Charlottetown’s fleet of diesel buses replaced with electric buses, something which the group unsuccessfully lobbied for.
On a national level, Woodbury would like to see divestment from fossil fuels and the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline project that the Trudeau government bought 2018.
Although PEI is small, Woodbury says that we can set the example for the rest of Canada on climate action, and that PEI may have the most to lose because of climate change.
“We’re a small island. We’re small enough. We don’t want it to get much smaller,” he said.
Fridays for Future happen every Friday at 3:30pm in front of Province House.
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