On Friday, September 25, protesters across the globe plan to participate in a digital and in-person movement as part of the Global Day of Climate Action. In Toronto, a socially distanced sit-in is planned, which will mark the culmination of a week of advocacy for just recovery from COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for all levels of government to make a real and meaningful change towards equity, sustainability, and climate justice. For this reason, we call for a just and green recovery from COVID-19,” says Laura Hernandez, spokesperson for Fridays for Future Toronto — a youth-led chapter of the global Fridays for Future organization, which demands climate justice through strikes, rallies, and marches.
Last year, in September 2019, the Global Climate Strike attracted over 6 million people, with several hundred thousands in Canada alone. This year, due to social distancing guidelines, a large part of the action will be taken online.
A week of climate actions have been planned leading up to the main event, including online public forums, panels, and an activism-related film screening. On the day itself, youth are leading a ‘Just Recovery Zap,’ in which they will mass call, tweet, email, and comment at federal and provincial politicians.
Anyone wishing to participate in the Climate Day of Action activities during their normal class or work hours on September 25 should speak to their instructor or work supervisor.
While some of the actions are no longer in-person, the movement’s urgency has not faltered.
“The just recovery demands ensure that economic relief is provided directly to people, particularly vulnerable and marginalized communities,” says Hernandez. “The pandemic and its long-term effects are not just a reminder of the impact of the systems that perpetuate environmental destruction, but also of our society’s collective vulnerability. For this reason and so many others, we are striking on September 25.”
For last year’s in-person climate strike, York gave students a day of academic accommodation, in which they would not be penalized for not attending classes. This year, the school provided a statement of its support.
“We recognize the compelling imperative to mitigate climate change and its harmful effects on people and nature worldwide,” says Yanni Dagonas, deputy spokesperson for York. “We understand most activities for this year’s Climate Day of Action will be virtual. Anyone wishing to participate in the Climate Day of Action activities during their normal class or work hours on September 25 should speak to their instructor or work supervisor.”
Hernandez believes that now is a critical time for university students to get involved. “University students would be the next labour force and decision-makers of the country. Therefore, why not shape a better job market, government, and future? By taking action while we are still studying, it makes us more critical and informative.”
We are on track to experience unimaginable ecological destruction due to human-driven climate change.
While digital activities make up the majority of the week’s schedule, the protestors have opted to continue with a planned sit-in on the day of the event.
A statement released by the organizers on Saturday expressed their intention to go ahead with the in-person event.
“We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak in Ontario is rapidly growing and we support public health officials in their efforts to keep our communities safe,” the release stated. “We will be moving forward with our in-person action at Bay Street & Wellesley Street West on September 25. When the status quo fosters many overlapping crises, we do not have the luxury to remain complacent.”
Nevertheless, there are planned social distancing and safety measures set to be in place, including sanitized equipment, mandatory masks provided for all attendees, and separated sit-in groups of 10 or less in order to comply with regulations.
“The world has suffered what many have called ‘the worst event of our times’, but ‘the worst’ is yet to come,” says Hernandez.
“We are on track to experience unimaginable ecological destruction due to human-driven climate change. The examples are uncountable, but the time to take action is today because the climate crisis does not wait, and neither do we.”