Trailblazer: Fridays for Future Canada
“I show up to strike, because I am steadfast in my belief that we will achieve a just and equitable world.”Aminah Attar, FFFTO
In August 2018, in the weeks leading up to a Swedish election, then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate. She sat outside the Swedish Parliament every school day demanding action on the climate crisis. Thunberg’s strikes inspired a global climate strike movement of youth demanding urgent action and accountability from their leaders, which became Fridays for Future (FFF).
On September 27, 2019, FFF convened a Global Climate Strike which saw demonstrations take place across the globe. In Canada, nearly a million people joined climate strikes in cities and towns across the country.
Thunberg reminds us of the importance of this type of grassroots organizing and collective resistance:
“I know that we need a system change rather than individual change, but you cannot have one without the other. If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. No system change can come without pressure from large groups of individuals.”
In Canada, several chapters of Fridays for Future have been established across the country. These grassroots organizations led by youth are demanding climate justice through school strikes, rallies, and marches. Fridays to Future TO (FFF TO) has adopted a set of intersectional demands that aim to create a space for youth to advocate for a better world that uplifts marginalized voices, follows the principles of climate justice and empowers youth to demand a future that is sustainable and just for all.
To ensure pressure on climate action was maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic, FFF TO hosted physically distanced sit ins for a just recovery in Toronto’s downtown core. Allie Rougeot, head of the Toronto chapter explains, “By gathering, socially distanced and with masks…we are really showing that we will not allow others to rob us from our future. Moreover, because we realize it’s a privilege for us to strike…and demand action, we are also asking for justice for those in the Global South, in Indigenous communities or in racialized communities that are already impacted by climate chaos and that have been ignored by our elected officials.”
Aminah Attar, a Fridays for Future TO member, shares her reasons for striking:
“I show up to strike because of how much we have to lose, and because of how much many communities have lost over years of exploitation. I show up because I am witness, like many others, to the pain and deterioration of civil rights that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought and highlighted as a world crisis. I am afraid of a future where survival will take precedence over the fight for human rights. Most importantly, I show up to strike, because I am steadfast in my belief that we will achieve a just and equitable world.”
The pandemic and the call for a just recovery has been the focus of this year’s climate strikes. Youth have demonstrated immense leadership in calling for increased climate action as part of a just recovery.
“This climate strike, far from just another march by cute kids with signs, is a symbol of the perseverance of the youth and their adult allies,” says Allie. “It is also a reminder of how dire the situation is: again and again, my peers and I have to sacrifice our free time and take days off school to demand that people pay attention to a crisis that will jeopardize everything we love. This pandemic has clearly shown us how maladapted our systems are to instability, and yet the biggest disruption is yet to come if we don’t act now!”
Connect with the Fridays for Future chapter in your community. To learn more about climate strikes happening across the country, visit the Fridays for Future Canada website.