Concordia, McGill Students Hold “Die-In” to Protest Fossil Fuel Investment
A rally culminating in a “die-in” was held on Tuesday, April 1 in protest of Concordia and McGill University’s environmental policies.
Students met in the mezzanine floor of the Hall Building from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., making signs and eating food provided by the organizers.
“There are 12 [rallies] happening across Canada in the different divestment campaigns coordinated by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. [This is part of] a national day of action called ‘Fossil Fools’ to try and get more awareness,” explained Anthony Garoufalis-Auger, CSU VP External and Mobilization and member of Divest Concordia.
At around 4 p.m., the participants left the Hall Building and marched down Mackay St. to St. Catherine St. W. They were escorted by several police cars.
“For climate justice at our schools, no tar sands, no fossil fuels,” protesters chanted.
The crowd wound its way down St. Catherine St. W. before heading down McGill Ave.
“Last week, the British medical journal editorial board wrote that the best thing for health professionals to do for climate action is to demand that their institutions, including universities and hospitals, divest from fossil fuels,” Garoufalis-Auger told the crowd with a megaphone.
“We need to keep pushing, and not take no as an answer.”
The group then made their way to a tarp in front of McGill’s central building, where ‘Fossil Fuel Fred,’ a character played by McGill student Justin Chisholm, made a satirical speech thanking ‘McSpill University’ and ‘CoalCordia’ for investing in fossil fuels.
The character “originally came out of a mock candidate to force all the [McGill] presidential candidates to take a position on divestment,” Chisholm explained.
“At the end of his campaign he pretended to go away to a tropical island and do something at ‘CoalCordia’ to bridge the gap there so Concordia and McGill could use the character,” he said.
The die-in simulated an oil spill, and around 15 students ‘died’ one by one on the tarp, including CSU councillor John Talbot and Garoufalis-Auger. There were several minutes of silence for those impacted by oil spills, after which protesters dispersed.
The 12 rallies took place following the conclusion of PowerShift, which many of the protesters attended. An annual conference held this year in Halifax, PowerShift brings youth together with the goal of promoting a “clean, just and sustainable future.”