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Climate focus of Friday for Future rally

By Don Fennell

Published 2:56 PDT, Thu September 26, 2019

Last Updated: 3:18 PDT, Thu September 26, 2019

A Swedish high school student’s single stand against climate change has inspired a world-wide movement.

It was only a year ago that Greta Thunberg, 16, decided to take off from school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament, holding up a sign calling for stronger climate action. Soon, other students took notice and began engaging in similar protests in their communities, and a strike movement called Friday for Future began.

This Friday (Sept. 27), students are planning to participate in strikes across Canada. Many students from Richmond are also expected to take part in a Vancouver rally, to which Richmond School District superintendent Scott Robinson has issued the following statement:

“There have been some questions as whether or not students will be ‘allowed’ by the district to attend the rally on Sept. 27. Ultimately, this decision rests with each individual parents and not the school or the district. If you wish to excuse your child from school to attend the rally, we ask that you contact your child’s school in advance to provide your permission. Students who choose to attend the rally with their parents’ permission will be marked ‘absent-excused’ and will be considered under the supervision of their parents. We will be asking schools to ensure that if any students are excused by their parents for the day, that they be provided the opportunity to make up any missed work without penalty. Students will be encouraged to take responsibility for speaking with their teachers about this.”

It is also understood that two Richmond high school classes or small groups will be attending the Sept. 27 event which is being described as a general strike for climate action. It will culminate in a mobilization starting at Vancouver City Hall at 1 p.m.

Richmond city councillor Bill McNulty, a former public educator, is complimentary of the students and their initiative.

“I’m very encouraged. What they are doing is very important,” he says. “Often senior levels of government don’t get the basic issue. These issues affect everybody, and will for future generations.”

The walk out is intended to further demand action against global warming. Part of Global Week for Future, it is among a series of international strikes and protests at over 4,500 locations in 150 countries. On Sept. 20 was perhaps the largest climate strike in world history, which included 1.4 million participants in Germany and 300,000 in each of Australia and the United Kingdom and 250,000 in New York. As well, more than 2,000 scientists in 40 countries pledged their support.

The first strike in March saw more than 1.6 million protest in over 125 countries.

Coincidentally, Sept. 27 is the anniversary of the publishing of Silent Spring, a 1962 book which was key to starting the environmental movement.

Thunberg, who spoke at the United Nations on Monday, was featured on the cover of Time in May. The magazine named her a next generation leader.

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