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Thousands of Maritimers join global strike to demand action on climate change
Thousands of Maritimers added their voices to those around the world today, demanding action on climate change.
Protests were held in every corner and some were described as the largest in recent memory.
Crowds much larger than expected filled downtown Halifax on Friday -- young people feeling a mix of determination and anger.
"I'm so frustrated with inaction and so tired of putting all my time into this and seeing no effects," said Julia Simpson, one of the leaders of the Halifax march.
Halifax police say about 10,000 participated in the climate strike in the Maritime's largest city, delivering an impassioned plea to lawmakers.
"When it comes to a livable future, wishes do nothing -- taking action does," said one of the students who gave a speech in Halifax. "That is what we are trying to do by sacrificing our education for a future we can depend on, but sadly we aren't in the driver's seat."
But other students say the drivers are about to change.
"Climate change is something that has sort of come to the forefront of issues here in Canada and I think it's something we got to deal with right now," said student Carson Straup.
Students walked out of schools in every corner of the region to protest inaction on climate change.
"Other generations didn't have to live with this, but we are dealing with it," said one student in Saint John.
The school walkouts were, in some cases, supported by community leaders.
"This is learning too," said Saint John mayor Don Darling. "This is education also. I support their right. They are learning an important element of democracy here."
While most of the protesters were youthful, in some cases, they spanned generations.
"This is the biggest problem we've ever faced in humanity, and we have to do something now," said Simonne Boucher, who joined a march in Moncton.
At its core, the message was simple: "We need a world to live in," said one student in Fredericton.
Friday's "die-in" in Saint John was a symbolic demonstration of what protesters describe as a bleak future. They say, being out of class today is a sign of their commitment.
"Being here, missing school, missing tests and assignments, it shows that we support this cause and we want action," said Logan Breen of Saint John. "It may not be immediate, but in the long term, when we're old enough to hold positions of power, there will be action and there's nothing people can do to stop that."
Many who marched today spoke about what they're doing at home to combat climate change.
And with an election looming, protestors were hoping politicians had their ears open to what they had to say.
"The climate is changing, why aren't we?" was one of the many chants heard across the region.
"What do we want, climate action, when do we want it? Now!" was another.
It was a chance to show the world that many people in Atlantic Canada see the environment as a top priority.
"We recycle, we reuse when we can, we buy a lot of second-hand clothing. We try to make a difference," said a woman at the Halifax march.
Many families brought their kids with them.
"We brought the kids out so that they could understand you know, the impact that households have on climate change, so we talk to them about it," said another Haligonian. "They're aware of our responsibilities."
The student contingent made up a big part of Friday's marches across the Maritimes.
In Saint John, students walked out of school to show their solidarity with the global movement.
"I think this does work. I think this is something that a politician can't ignore, and if they are going to ignore it I think they're going to get ignored at the ballot box," said Lynana McKinley a student climate activist in Saint John.
In Halifax many who didn't have class today came out to protest, but students who did, also chose to join the protest.
"We have to change now, because if we don't then it's just going to keep getting worse, and we won't have a future that we want," said one of the students in Halifax.
Dalhousie University marine biologist Boris Worm says world leaders are starting to listen and says that strikes like this one are working to provoke change globally. Even so, he says we still need to do more.
"We don't want to be divided on this, right, this is all hands on deck," Worm said. "To be in requires the equivalent of a war-time effort, only that we're not fighting each other this time, we're fighting something that's caused by all of us, but that we can address. We have the tools to address this, we know what to do, we have the technology, we can move ahead and we really need to move ahead together, not divided."
Together, thousands made sure their voices were heard as they marched through the streets of Halifax with stops at Nova Scotia Power, Province House and City Hall.
"Words, education are stepping stones, but neither, even if combined, stand a chance," said a student in Halifax. "Our last hope, is hanging on actions."
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron and Suzette Belliveau.