Events organized in solidarity with activist Greta Thunberg are popping up all o

Events organized in solidarity with activist Greta Thunberg are popping up all over the world. Toronto has two scheduled outside of Nathan Phillips Square on March 1st from 2pm to 5pm and outside of Queen's Park on March 15th from 12:30pm to 2pm.

FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE - Making Connections is the fourth event in a series of Toronto solidarity rallies with Greta Thunberg’s school strike.

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish student who stopped going to school on Fridays in order to protest outside the Swedish Parliament until world leaders would wake up and act on climate. Although she began her protest alone, thousands of students and adults all around the world have joined her. These protests have been especially large in Europe and Australia, but they are growing in North America as well. Sophia Mathur was the first Canadian student to strike from school last fall – but others have since joined her in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Belleville, Peterborough, Ottawa and here in Toronto as well. The Toronto events have been organized by a group of students and parents, and are open to supporters of any age.

There is a huge amount of climate organizing going on across many different groups in Toronto and our energy and numbers are growing – but it isn’t always visible.

For this event, we have no scheduled speeches and are instead turning our attention to networking and playful ‘challenge cards’ designed to spark action after the rally. There is a huge amount of climate organizing going on across many different groups in Toronto and our energy and numbers are growing – but it isn’t always visible. We want to bring that energy outside and give people a chance to meet with organizers and talk one-on-one about what their organization does – with the hopes that they will find a group that fits their skills and schedule – and get involved. You are not alone in your worries about climate change – there are thousands of us in this city working at this problem from many different angles!

Greta Thunberg’s main demand is that world leaders tell the truth about our climate crisis and present policies that are consistent with the findings of climate scientists, rather than what seems politically “realistic.” In her speech at the COP24 Climate Summit, she told the assembled representatives of world governments, “We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

The Fridays for Future movement has created both awareness of our climate crisis and political turmoil for politicians who are unwilling to meet its demands. For example, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticized the school strikers and was rebuked by his own Senate; a regional environment minister in Belgium, Joke Schauvliege, resigned after suggesting the school strikes were a coordinated conspiracy; and German politician Angela Merkel has also been forced to apologize after questioning their authenticity.

In Toronto, we hope to use our March 1 event to spread Greta’s message and develop connections with other climate groups in our amazing city. Our organization is still growing and changing, but we will be participating in a global climate strike on March 15 and we intend to keep growing and evolving until federal, provincial and municipal leaders enact climate policies that meet the immense challenge presented to us by climate science.

Toronto rallies are currently scheduled for Friday March 1 from 2pm to 5pm at Nathan Philips Square and March 15 from 12:30pm to 2pm at Queen's Park. Follow @toclimatefuture on Twitter and/or @fridays4futuretoronto on Instagram for news on future walks. Rallies all over the world are mapped here.

Matthew Lie-Paehlke is a father, PhD Candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto, and the founder of Climate Pledge Collective.

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