More than four million people of all ages, from 163 countries, gathered Friday to go on a brief strike from their schoolwork. The intention was to protest the indecision they feel is plaguing governments worldwide on the issue of global warming. In Toronto, over 200 people took part in the Global Climate Strike held at Hart House Circle on the campus of the University of Toronto.
“System change not climate change,” shouted Abigail Dingwall.
Dingwall is the leader of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) branch at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). She is also an organizer for the march known as Fridays for Future (FFF). A student studying international development, Dingwall, 20, was born in Jamaica and raised in Trinidad and Tobago.
These small island states face additional challenges such as hurricanes and tropical storms, increased flooding, loss of coastal habitats and more, which she argues are indications of the ongoing progression of climate change.
Dingwall stood straight and wore a fierce expression while leading the climate march. She hopes to mobilize climate action to get system change in this environment crisis to happen now.
“What I stand for is what I stand on, a world united can never be defeated,” she said.
Fridays for Future (FFF) is a people’s movement that was established one year ago. In August 2018, Greta Thunberg began the international movement of a school strike, specifically on Fridays, to raise awareness about political inaction against global warming.
The 16-year-old, now nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was awarded the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience award. She is demonstrating that activism works in creating awareness on the topic of global warming.
Gonzalo Riva, 28, attended the campus climate change strike as a teacher, leading workshops in communicating climate science and the three R’s: recycling, reusing, and reducing.
Riva also circulated a petition, and gathered signatures in favour of the Green New Deal. He believes in sustainable buildings in Canada, and working with government agencies to innovate and shape the market by implementing energy and environmental policies.
“It’s easy to talk about the green stuff or emissions but the systems that have created the climate crisis, are also the systems that hurt people in all kinds of ways,” he said. “I believe we’ll be seeing more worker strikes as people realize their jobs interfere with environmental issues.”
This should also include the impact on Indigenous Canadians, he added.
“Racial justice, and justice for Indigenous peoples that actually guard the vast majority of our land,” Riva said.
Students said they will be back next Friday for another protest at the Hart House Circle.