Riverton and Gimli students attend climate change strike

Evergreen School Division students from Gimli High School and Riverton Collegiate Institute attended the climate change strike in Winnipeg on Sept. 27.

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Thirty-six Evergreen School Division students bussed to Winnipeg as part of a global climate change strike at the Manitoba legislature on Sept. 27.

Twenty students in the Riverton Collegiate Action Team, some from last year’s Grade 9 social studies class in Riverton, grouped up to passionately and publicly express their feelings about climate change.

“I hope people start taking action that is meaningful,” a student named Sheldon quietly and clearly stated. “Nobody’s really doing anything about it and people are just turning their heads and not caring.”

Many went to the May climate strike during the last school year and were disheartened about the turnout. This year was different with approximately 15,000 people in attendance, including small children.

“The first time I went, there was nobody. No one cared. This time it was kind of emotional,” another student  said. “It wasn’t just teenagers showing up to miss school…Elderly people were there; young kids were there…That’s amazing. I was pretty shaken up.”

They, along with sixteen Gimli students, made signs and posters trying to provoke people to get their point across. Some may be cynical, but one Riverton student was cautiously positive. “I still hope things are going to change (but) I think people aren’t going to listen to us because we’re not mature,” Bethany said.

Though influencing a decision maker would be significant, teacher Rob Jantz was encouraged by the students seeing themselves as part of the bigger picture.

“I think it’s come to the point where it’s action, something that I’m going to do, what I’m going to stand up for, where I draw the line, where I say what’s right or wrong to me,” a candid Riverton student noted. “Maybe that’s what we needed. We needed somebody to throw us down for us to realize what we had to get back up for.”

The day was emotionally charged with speeches, sharing what others thought and felt, marching down the street and students really caring about something bigger than themselves. If the younger generation was hoping for change, now they are creating it.

After so many struggles, people finally realized, “Well, we’re all going to die,” that candid Riverton student pointed out. “We still aren’t to the point where we aren’t in danger,” Sheldon added. “It’s kind of crazy that it’s taken this long for people to say (that).”

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