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Inspired by teen activist, thousands of Montreal students skip class for climate march
More than 150,000 students across Quebec went on strike on Friday as part of a global movement demanding action on climate change.
In Montreal, students gathered in Jeanne-Mance Park, the launching point for a large march that made its way downtown, ending at Place Des Festivals.
The common message is a growing concern that adults have failed in their duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which cause global warming, despite years of unanimous scientific data.
“I think they don't understand because they're not going to be here when the planet is going to have difficulty – and the world will end,” said high school student Eve Beauchemin.
High school, CEGEP and university students all joined in, as well as some teachers, staff and parents.
“This is for them, they need to have their voice, and it's a fundamental right to protest and impact your own future,” said one mother who brought her elementary-school-aged children.
“They support us, they say it's for a good cause,” said a high school student. “I had permission from my parents to be here.”
Elsewhere, students formed human chains in front of six Montreal School Board schools. The school board has said the schools would not close because of the strike, but in some cases, administration had no choice but to cancel classes.
Events were also planned in Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Saguenay, Joliette, Rimouski, Baie-Comeau, Gaspe and Sept-Iles, among others.
Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette said he wouldn’t be able to participate but that channels of communication with organizers are open.
His federal counterpart, Catherine McKenna, said she would be attending “in spirit,” adding that it’s important for young people to call for action in the fight against climate change.
Similar events are being held in more than 100 countries around the world, with students walking out of class. The movement was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, whose talk at the World Economic Forum in Davos went viral. Thunberg lectured the assembled world leaders, saying “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear that I feel every day.”
- With files from The Canadian Press