On the morning of September 11th, a group of young organizers representing different Canadian climate action groups including Climate Strike Canada and Our Time held a press conference in front of the national Parliament in Ottawa to introduce their #NotGoingBack movement.
- The event, which was live streamed online, included young speakers from Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax along with a guest appearance from environmentalist David Suzuki.
The Big Picture: The concerned activists introduced #NotGoingBack as a non-violent grassroots movement of young people refusing to return to the pre-COVID status quo which they believed was sacrificing their futures and the future of the planet for the sake of the wealthy few.
Organizers issued a set of legislative demands which they hoped to see discussed at the Trudeau Cabinet retreat starting Monday and reflected in the speech from the throne on September 23rd.
The #NotGoingBack group also announced a coordinated, nationwide day of action on the 25th of September, the one year anniversary of the 2019 Climate march where millions marched for climate justice around Canada.
- The young speakers threw down the gauntlet for the Prime Minister stating “it’s up to [Trudeau] whether we’ll be protesting or celebrating” following an analysis of the throne speech.
#NotGoingBack’s Legislative Demands
While the social movement has its roots in youth climate activism, their demands are intersectional and seek real action on social, racial and environmental justice in order to build a more equitable and resilient future.
Invest in people not corporations:
- This includes the creation of millions of green jobs, along with providing universal health care, housing, transit and education, while enshrining food and water security along with making the wealthiest 1% pay their fair share.
Dismantle racism and colonialism:
- Through upholding the indigenous rights and sovereignty along with the implementation of UNDRIP. #NotGoingBack also seeks to defund the police to make more funds available for social services.
- The group also demands that the government follow indigenous leadership and wisdom and cease all extractive projects on First Nations land.
Treats the climate crisis like the emergency it is:
- By challenging Canada to achieve zero emissions by 2030 by forgoing the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure by investing 5% of Canada’s GDP into a just transition.
- Calling on Canada to use its position to pressure other wealthy countries to meet targets limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees while applying a climate lens to all its legislative processes.
What they’re Saying
The organizers of the event emphasized that their goal was to “put youth voices into the political narrative of the throne speech.”
Today is my first day of school, but instead… I’m here at this press conference to launch the #NotGoingBack campaign which is a movement of young people across the country demanding that we don’t return to the normal we knew before the COVID pandemic… a normal of economic inequality, systemic racism… and a normal that meant that young people had to strike from school to show that we were in a climate emergency.Lilah Williamson, a 16 year old climate activist in Vancouver
Today we have a message for you Mr. Prime Minister. The planet is burning, and we are tired. We are tired of talking, of crying for change without action. It is now a year since millions marched in the streets of Canada, manifested by your inaction. You were there with us, Greta [Thunberg] was there. You met with her and promised action on the climate.
Today, there is no Greta here. There is us the youth of Quebec and Canada, there is you, there is a crisis, and there are the promises you have not kept.Marouane, a student from Montreal who helped to organize the 25th of September 2019 Climate March which brought together over 500,000 people (translated from french)
Thank you for this opportunity to hear what the youth are saying. Thank you for not letting [the] government use the COVID crisis as a cover for their lack of action on the climate crisis that faces us.David Suzuki, Canadian academic, scientist and climate activist
The Bottom Line
As the Trudeau Cabinet plans to meet at a retreat starting this Monday to outline the new throne speech, these young climate activists are taking matters in their own hands to make sure their demands are heard.
Tristan Oliff & Shervin Ghiami contributed to this reporting.
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