A climate crisis protest took place in Ottawa in March of this year. Photo: Eric Davison
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The group of people that govern our school have made a terrible decision. They have decided not to support the climate movement this Friday. Honest and altruistic as I am sure they are, they have made an error.

In place of tangible action, we received kind words, handshakes and a lacklustre email. 

This is not enough. We know this and this will not be the last time they hear from us.

Our university should have cancelled classes and put their full weight behind the Global Climate Strike. When called upon to help this expanding movement, the university should have lead courageously, ruffled some feathers and used their enormous power for good.

They did not.

We will persevere without them for now but eventually, they need to support our movement wholeheartedly.

What we all must come to understand and appreciate is that international mass mobilization and non-violent action for the climate crisis is a necessity. This problem has been left unresolved for 40 years and our current trajectory means genocide for millions of non-white, non-wealthy people of the earth. This is unconscionable. 

We students must mobilize this Friday. We must vote with our feet.

Voting with our dollars and voting every four years is not enough. This problem is too enormous to be solved without aggressive political leadership and community activism. 

Voting with our feet works: Showing up to the houses of power and demanding attention, debate, action and promotion of real leaders is what is needed. 

This type of action needs to become the new norm. All over the world, we need to use the levers of government power to tear down old industries, change others, invest in new ones and train millions of people to fight for change. 

We cannot rely upon status quo politics. Governments filled with old ideas, dishonest people and entrenched power dynamics are what has let this problem fester for generations. 

It’s time for systemic change. Better governance, better ideas and politicians who truly work for the people. We need to need to breathe in a fresh new air of a new world where democratically empowered, scientifically minded, honest, altruistic people govern us and the planet. 

The worldwide non-violent protest that will shake the earth this Friday will bring more people into the movement. It will raise public awareness of the climate crisis and those who are causing it. The Global Climate Strike will energize the desire to hold them responsible, and it will shed light on real leaders and solutions. 

Our presence will be felt by those that oppose us and we will not be ignored. It will implore those who support us rhetorically but not in application to take action. No longer will they be able to take half measures in addressing the climate crisis that equates to genocide. We will not allow it. For the courageous few in power who align with our cause, it will provide them with a crucial tool of leverage as they navigate the complex halls of democratic government.

It should be clear by now that the university must support this movement with all of its power.

The Senate, one of the most powerful governing bodies in our institution, should have cancelled classes this Friday. They should be tasking themselves with assembling a campaign aimed at promoting further education, organization, and collaboration to address this problem. This movement needs more people. Awareness is the simplest and most effective solution for this problem.

To disseminate knowledge is a university’s primary reason for existence. Humanity’s priority right now is solving the climate crisis. These two goals need to become one and the same.

As for us students, we will meet on Tabaret Lawn at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, before meeting with our fellow protestors in Confederation Park and heading to Parliament Hill to help raise the stakes to solve the climate crisis, save millions of lives and build a brighter future for all people of the earth.

Once we are on the Hill, let’s all take a moment to celebrate. The world is changing, and this is just the beginning.

See you tomorrow.

Lorin Clive D’Arcy Van Dusen is a second-year political science and philosophy student at the U of O and part of uOttawa Climate Action Organizers and Our Time uOttawa.