Hundreds of Island students took part in a youth climate strike Friday, one of several rallies that were planned across Canada.
Students gathered at Victoria City Hall at 11 a.m. and marched down Government Street for a rally at the legislature.
“Youth in Canada understand science and know that action on climate change must come now, for as the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says we only have 10-11 years left,” one of the Victoria Climate Strike organizers, 16-year-old Emma-Jane Burian, said in a release.
“We are inspired to strike because we want the right to a future. Youth want all levels of government to know that climate change is the most important issue of our time. We will continue to strike until our demands are met.”
Those demands for government action include bold emission reduction targets, the “separation of oil and state” and environmental rights.
Premier John Horgan met with some of the students on Friday and wrote on Twitter that he was inspired by their activism and determination.
“This is the greatest challenge of our time, and we must rise to it, together,” Horgan wrote.
This is the greatest challenge of our time, and we must rise to it, together. pic.twitter.com/Zq6pyvSFzQ
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) May 3, 2019
Students in Nanaimo also had their own rally, gathering at city hall at noon.
Organizers say strikes in Canada are inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who started the School Strike for Climate in August 2018.
Since she began demonstrating outside the Swedish parliament, weekly protests have snowballed, fuelled by headlines about the impact of climate change during the students’ lifetimes.