Protestors on Parliament called for immediate government action on climate change. Photo: Eric Davison.
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Demonstrations occurred in over 100 countries, led primarily by youth

Protestors flocked to Parliament Hill on March 15 to protest government inaction on mitigating global climate change. The demonstration in Ottawa was just one of the thousands of demonstrations taking place across the world on Friday.

The protest was originally organized as a youth movement inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunburg. The 16-year-old garnered international attention after her protests in front of Sweden’s parliament buildings.   

A majority of protestors on the hill Friday were high school and university students, a trend seen in many other demonstrations across the world. Indigenous activists also showed up in force, with many protesting current environmental conditions on reserves and ongoing disputes with the federal government around pipeline expansion.

“Well when you talk about Indigenous rights and environmental rights — well it’s the same thing. We want our claim to the land respected, which Canada agreed to in its treaties, but we also want the land respected. Trudeau isn’t doing that. No one in parliament is,”said John-Lewis Hollande, an Indigenous activist from Manitoba.

Protestors began marching around noon beginning with several groups across Ottawa, including an Indigenous-centric anti-pipeline protest in Confederation Park and a student-led group at Tabaret Hall.

The marchers met protestors already on Parliament Hill around 1 p.m., before a series of activists addressed the crowd outside the center block. A parliamentary security officer on-site told the Fulcrum he estimated about 2,000 people were in attendance at the protest’s peak.

“I’m not here to save the cane toads or what-the-fuck-ever — I’m not some hippie. I’m here because my future is at risk and the government is doing nothing. So yeah, I guess I’m an environmentalist now,” said Gregory Knapp, an economics student at the University of Ottawa.

Climate activism spiked in 2018, following a damning report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that claims the world has just 12 years to prevent runaway climate change. Global carbon emissions rose significantly in 2018, following a brief period of stagnation that many had hoped signalled the beginning of a global decline.

“I am here for all the kids who are here. I don’t really have any hope that the 12-year target will achieve any significant change but I can’t not come when Greta wants me to come,” said Marnie Weller, a hospital librarian, in reference to the Swedish youth activist.

“We’re fucked. That’s just all there is to it. But I can go down fighting or I can let the oil companies win without any resistance,” said Seymour Willing, a retiree and protestor. “I will rest easier knowing that at least we tried.”

The demonstration is just one of a series of planned climate protests in Ottawa through 2019. Earthstrike, an activist group planning a general strike until climate action is taken, plans on staging another protest in the city on April 27.