HALIFAX -- Student organizers and other speakers gathered outside Halifax City Hall on Friday to urge politicians at all levels to address the climate crisis.

This time last year, millions marched to draw attention to the climate crisis around the world and in the Maritimes.

But since then, the world's focus has shifted to the pandemic, leading climate activists to rally again.

The crowd in Halifax on Friday was smaller than last year but still substantial. Masks and physical distancing in place and the message was still clear.

"Although we are still in a pandemic, we have overlapping crises right now and people need to understand that if we're gonna recover from this pandemic, we need to do it with a just recovery involving climate justice," said rally co-organizer Julia Sampson.

There was a similar call to action at the rally in Fredericton as well.

"What we're realizing now is that a lot of these different issues that we thought were disparate are actually connected," said Jessica Spencer, an organizer of the Fredericton rally.

Along with calling on governments to take immediate action to address climate change, speakers in Halifax also focused on the need to recognize systemic racism and how it, too, affects the environment.

Tensions between Mi'kmaq and non-Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia was highlighted as an example.

"The climate crisis is so intersectional, you cannot have climate action without racial justice, without indigenous sovereignty, it's all connected," said Sampson.

Catherine Ann Martin of Millbrook First Nation spoke to the crowd in Halifax.

"We are all related, we're all the same, and we all need each other to survive," Martin said. "If we had accepted that, we wouldn't have to be here, and worried for what we've done with the future."

That concern for the future was echoed by students attending the rally.

"The governments have a lot of responsibility in terms of big corporations, and putting limits on them," said Grade 10 studentAnne Savage.

Noreen Mabiza of the Ecology Action Centresays the pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities in our society and shown our weak points.

"Climate change is not going to slow down, and that is why the government cannot minimize their efforts," Mabiza said.

People at Friday's rallies say those efforts must not be sidelined by the pandemic, if the world hopes to have any kind of better future ahead.

Many of the people who attended Friday were students, and perhaps not old enough to vote yet. But, as one speaker pointed out, someday, they will be of age to cast a ballot in an election, and when they do, they will hold governments accountable.