Over 10,000 youth march in Montreal’s global climate strike

Organizers urged Canadian government to make Canada carbon neutral by 2030

Tens of thousands of young Montrealers gathered at George-Etienne Monument in a student-led demonstration calling for climate justice on Sept. 24. Protesters marched from Park Ave. to Dorchester St., where youth leaders made passionate speeches calling for unity and solidarity.

Demonstrations were planned in cities across the world as a part of Fridays for Future—a youth-led movement that began with then 15 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg in 2018. Thunberg famously protested instead of attending school on Fridays, expressing that demanding climate action was a far greater priority than education.

Montreal’s climate strike was organized by student organizations and activist groups, including The Racial Justice Collective, Solidarity Across Borders, Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social, and Pour le futur Mtl. Together, activists called for racial justice, social justice, and migrant rights, citing that they are key extensions to climate justice. Specifically, activists demanded an end to extractivist corporate activity, full status for all migrants to Canada, solidarity with all First Nations peoples fighting for land sovereignty, and expanded social resources for marginalized communities.

“When I look around, the people here today are not the ones who are going to face the harshest [impacts] of climate change,” said Elijah Olise of the Racial Justice Collective.

Environmental scientists and activists have warned that regions in the global south are more susceptible to climate catastrophe due to global warming, and its effects would leave poorer countries with higher death tolls and massive displacement.

“We are here to send a loud and clear message to Justin Trudeau and his new government that the population wants climate justice now!” — Gal Barnea

Protesters held signs reading “Change the system, not the climate” and “Your political cowardice scraps our future,” alluding to government policies that have benefitted corporations that extract natural resources for financial profit. Many protesters expressed discontent at political leaders who they feel have fallen short in delivering on their promises to combat climate change.

“I’d like to ask all the politicians who have been inactive in matters of climate change and made promises that were not kept […] to leave the protest immediately,” Rosalie Thibault of CEVES said to the crowd. Montreal mayor Valérie Plante and mayoral candidate Denis Coderre were among attendees.

Currently, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change recommends a global goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Organizers emphasized the urgency of the climate crisis and demanded the Canadian government take meaningful action to lead Canada into reaching carbon neutrality by 2030.

“We are here to send a loud and clear message to Justin Trudeau and his new government that the population wants climate justice now!” said organizer Gal Barnea of Pour le futur Mtl. “We don’t have time to waste. We don’t have time for empty promises.” 

“Look at us—we are magnificent,” said protester Jacqueline Ohayon. “We have the power to transform this world into a world that can sustain life for all future generations.”