Victoria climate activists point to Swedish teen, Greta Thunberg, as their inspiration for climate action

WatchClimate activist Greta Thunberg will be in Vancouver Friday for a post-election climate strike in the city's downtown core. The 16-year old Swedish teen couldn't fit in a visit to Victoria during her time in B.C. But hundreds are expected to travel from the island to the Lower Mainland for the event. That includes one Victoria student who says Thunberg inspired her to take action. Mary Griffin reports.

When Green Party leader Elizabeth May launched her campaign leading up to the federal election, Emma-Jane Burian stood right beside her. 16-year-old Burian lists May as one of her many inspirations.

“I got to meet David Suzuki twice. But he gave me a picture of him when he was younger, with a signed autograph. It was just a really cool moment,” Burian said.

But it’s a picture of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg that Burian says inspired her to take action of her own.

“We saw her iconic picture sitting at the Swedish parliament, really inspired a lot of people to start acting, including myself, and the other climate strikers that we organized with,” Burian said.

Burian and others organized the climate protest this fall at the B.C. legislature. They expected just a few thousand to show up.

“We set a goal of 5,000 people and we got 20,000. so that was just amazing,” Burian said.

Others attribute the Swedish teen with motivating them.  Mark Nykanen is a protestor with Extinction Rebellion, an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

“I think Greta Thunberg informs not only Extinction Rebellion but so many people who are concerned about the imminence of the climate crisis,” Nykanen said.  He believes that Thunberg is the spark behind a global movement.

“I think that it’s growing, and I think that we all understand that life as we’ve known it is not going to continue.”

Burian will be travelling to Vancouver for the rally Friday. She’s hopeful that she may get a chance to meet the young woman who’s inspired so many.

“I would thank her for inspiring us all throughout the world for doing this work. And I think it’s really important.  So I would definitely thank her,” Burian said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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