Singing and smiling brought together young and old climate justice activists today in Toronto and around the world for the People’s Climate March.
Hundreds of climate justice activists met in Allan Gardens this afternoon to march in solidarity to protect our right to clean air, water, land, healthy communities and a world at peace. I was lucky enough to attend the event with my family but ended up walking, chanting and singing with complete strangers who felt like friends by the end of the march. Some of the activists I walked with were young children who spread messages such as “Stop Climate Change. Save wildlife and your children’s lives!” Some were students with signs that read clever sayings like “I’m a big fan of renewable energy.” Some were grandparents who said they were marching for the future of their grandchildren. I walked beside people as old as 90 and age certainly did not stop them from joining in to spread their message.
There was a range of passionate and motivating musical performances and speeches before the march began. Climate justice was the main focus the speakers discussed but racial, social and economic issues were also part of the conversation. Multiple representatives of different indigenous tribes spoke about the importance of recognizing and respecting the land, our responsibility to care for the Earth and reminded us all that water and clean air sacred and crucial to life.
Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam spoke about the direction she hopes the city takes towards combating climate change and asked marchers to sign a petition which puts pressure on Toronto city council to be active towards their goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
When the march began, I walked beside Heart Songs Rising, a Toronto-based community choir who say they come together during times of radical change to sing songs of love, solidarity, diversity, community, resistance and musical revolution. We chanted messages such as “No pipe-lines and no tar sands! No destruction on our lands!” and “Wanna know what all the fuss is? We’re standing up for climate justice!”
I was one small part of thousands of impassioned activists who took to the streets around the world today to spread the urgent message that we need to focus on changing the way we treat our Earth, but it was inspiring to see that if people continue to get together, take action and put pressure on our governments we can overcome global warming and create a sustainable future for the planet.