Nearly 30 Richmond students cut class Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t to see a movie, go shopping or start their spring break vacations early.
Instead, the crowd gathered outside Richmond city hall, with posters and a microphone, calling on the city to take immediate action against climate change.
“This is a problem that’s happening now and action needs to be taken,” said Jason Pang, a Grade 12 student at Richmond Secondary School who organized the local event.
“We just want our voices heard.”
Richmond’s “strike” was the local contingent on a global day of action taken by youth around the world.
Several students gave passionate speeches, calling on the local government to focus on climate change for the benefit of future generations and asking Richmond to be a “leader in sustainability.”
Specifically, multiple students criticized Richmond city council for delaying its decision to declare a climate emergency.
Last month, council voted to defer the motion and wait for a definition of “climate emergency” and an analysis by staff of possible ramifications of making the declaration. During the meeting, Couns. Carol Day, Kelly Greene, Michael Wolfe and Harold Steves voted against sending the motion back to staff.
Greene was at the strike and expressed her own frustrations over the climate emergency decision.
“I see you, I hear you and I’m so sorry that the adults in the room have screwed up,” she said to the crowd of Richmond teens.
“Unfortunately, the city council did not declare a climate emergency. It was referred to staff to further understand what the emergency is. I think we’re past that point. It is an emergency.”
Greene encouraged the students to continue to take action and speak up to local politicians about their concerns, adding that council needs to work harder to focus on the climate.
“When (students) talk about not having hope and about being worried about having just a future, not even just a successful future…that’s incredibly devastating,” she said.
“I can’t imagine hearing that and not doing everything to act.”
Amy Daiminger, a Grade 11 student from McMath secondary attended the strike in Vancouver, which included a 45-minute march in the streets downtown.
For her, the climate strike was an opportunity to show all levels of government that youth want the environment to be prioritized.
“I would like for myself and young generations to have a future,” Daiminger said.
“We need to take action while there’s still time because we’re at such a critical point right now and I think this should be everyone’s absolute, number one priority.
“It seems kind of ridiculous when I’m going to school, I’m preparing for a future that I may never get.”