Climate forum organized ahead of planned global strike

A climate action forum has been scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Roberts Creek Hall “to make a Green New Deal and climate action a reality” on the Sunshine Coast, according to organizers.

The event is a follow-up to a couple of Green New Deal town halls held in Gibsons and Sechelt last May, where about 200 people gathered to share ideas for measures to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss while creating jobs, and how to mobilize governments.

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Those sessions were part of more than 150 that took place across the country, organized by the Pact for a Green New Deal, a non-partisan initiative that launched last May.

This Sunday the results of those local discussions will be shared by Alaya Boisvert, who organized the Sechelt town hall. Key topics that were “repeated over and over again,” Boisvert said, included halting oil and gas industry subsidies, transitioning to renewable energy and creating retraining programs “for workers from polluting industries,” investing in green transit, eliminating single-use plastics, protecting forests and waterways, honouring Indigenous rights, and ensuring clean drinking water and affordable housing.

The forum is also meant to introduce the public to Sunshine Coast groups already working on environmental initiatives, and to brainstorm ideas for action, said co-organizer Danika Dinsmore, who is also a substitute teacher.

Longstanding groups such as Elphinstone Logging Focus and representatives from Zero Waste Canada will hold breakout sessions along with newer organizations such as Plastics Coalition, Youth for Climate Action and the recently formed Teachers’ Climate Action Team.

That independent group is “still in the forming stages,” and is in conversation with School District No. 46, said Dinsmore who is a founding member. “We are currently finding allies in schools and looking for support,” she said of the group, which intends to support students.

“When they have ideas and actions and plans, we want to be able to support them in what they’re doing, as well as give them accurate information and be a support system for when they’re feeling pretty negative,” said Dinsmore.

“I’ve heard some pretty sad things from students. A student once said, ‘We should all just die. Humans are horrible.’ That’s the kind of grief we’re dealing with,” she said.

“The best way to get out of grief and despair is action, is joining something and doing something.”

One group that has taken that message on is Students for Climate Action, which helped mobilize students to strike for action on climate change last spring. They will also be attending the forum, which is taking place days before two global climate strikes. On Sept. 20, youth involved in the Fridays for Future network are expected to hold a large strike, including on the Sunshine Coast. That event corresponds to a UN emergency climate summit, which is set for Sept. 23. The following Friday, Sept. 27, people of all ages are invited to strike.

On the Sunshine Coast, Persephone Brewing Company – which is also participating in Sunday’s climate action forum – has announced that it will be closing its doors to allow staff to picket in front of the brewery in the afternoon. Participating staff will be paid regular wages, the company said.

In a news release, the brewery also called for other businesses to do the same. “Let’s make sure politicians know what is important to us – saving the only planet we will ever have. Whether you join us here, or in front of your own business, please shut down for a few hours to stand up for what matters.”


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