Students and other protesters walked out of classrooms and offices at 11 a.m on Vancouver Island on Friday to join a worldwide climate strike.

In Victoria, an estimated 20,000 people gathered on the grounds of the B.C. Legislature beginning at 12 p.m.

Climate change protesters then left the B.C. legislature grounds at around 1:30 p.m. and marched to the intersection of Fort and Douglas streets where they will stay until 5 p.m.

VicPD says are road closures due to the climate strike and “due to numbers rivalling Canada Day, we will be deploying temporary cameras in support of our operations to ensure public safety during the Climate Action Protest.”

According to #FridaysforFuture, there are also events planned in Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, Courtenay, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, as well as on North Pender, Mayne, Gabriola and Denman Islands.

George Heyman, the B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy released the following statement in response to the climate strikes.

“One year ago, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg began a movement that has only grown more powerful as we continue to see the effects of climate change all around us. This past week, we’ve seen millions of young people and others around the world speaking out for their future. We all have a responsibility to rise to the challenge and take meaningful action today.

“The B.C. government has responded by developing our CleanBC plan in partnership with the BC Green Party caucus to reduce climate pollution and transition to a clean, energy-efficient and carbon-neutral future – whether it’s in transportation, industrial development or our buildings and homes. We want other jurisdictions to take this journey with us. While we are modelling positive action, we know we have to do more here in B.C. and across the world. Our plan ensures that we’re open and transparent about our goals and how we’re doing in our efforts to meet them. We expect to be held accountable, and we’re putting new mechanisms in place so British Columbians can do just that.

“This week, I joined international leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations Climate Change Summit. It was an important opportunity to exchange information about actions that we can take together. Those committed to change and accountability recognize that it doesn’t have to be a bleak future. It can be a future that meets the challenge of climate change and develops a new, cleaner economy that sustains both our communities and community-supporting jobs.

“Every generation experiences change in the kind of work that sustains us and our families. What’s different about today is that much of that change is being driven by the climate crisis being experienced on a global level. CleanBC is British Columbia’s response. People across multiple generations are calling us all to account and building understanding that hope is only realized through taking action and achieving results.”

In Newfoundland, students and adults gathered at Memorial University in St. John’s for the first of an estimated 250 climate protests across the country on Friday.

The strike is inspired by sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who is in Montreal to take part in events there.

On Friday morning she tweeted “Good luck everyone striking around the world. Change is coming!!”

She also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of what is expected to be the biggest climate rally in the country.

Trudeau later announced that a re-elected Liberal government would pay for the planting of two billion trees over the next decade to combat climate change.

The tree-planting promise is the latest aspect of Trudeau’s plan for the environment, which he has been laying out at different campaign events across the country all week.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May will also be taking part in Climate Strike activities in Montreal on Friday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh joined the protests in Victoria on Friday afternoon.

He was in Ladysmith earlier where he announced a $40-million Coastal Protection Fund.

Singh said the Fund would be used to “to defend wild salmon, remove derelict vessels, clean up the coast, and improve Coast Guard equipment and training.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will be campaigning in Vancouver on Friday but says he does not plan on taking part in Climate Strike protests on the Lower Mainland.

Climate Strike Canada – a network of students, young people and activists spearheading the marches – have also put out a list of demands:

  • Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in full.
  • Protection of most affected groups
  • Recognize Canada’s disproportionate role in the climate crisis, and our subsequent responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. Include the addition of climate displacement as a basis for refugee status. Provide climate aid to lower- and middle-income countries, as well as Arctic Canada, which inordinately experience the immediate impacts of global warming.
  • A just transition
  • Transition to renewable energy and sustainable transportation infrastructure, while guaranteeing opportunity for fossil fuel workers in the new economy.
  • Environmental rights
  • Enshrine in law the fundamental right to a healthy environment. This would include, but is not limited to, the right to safe air, clean water, and healthy soil.
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Maintain and protect old growth forests, restore cutblocks, reduce habitat fragmentation, and strengthen the protection of at-risk species.
  • Separation of oil and state
  • Reject all new fossil fuel extraction or transportation projects, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and price pollution.
  • Bold greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets
  • Legislate net greenhouse gas emission reductions of 75 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030.
Toronto’s demands

  • In addition to the national list, organizers of Toronto’s climate strike are calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and higher taxation for the rich. “We are calling for an end to the hoarding of wealth by the same small percentage of Canadians who control the extractive industries that are causing ecological deterioration.”
  • Toronto demonstrators are also asking for refugee and migrant justice, which includes “an end to deportations and detentions; decent, low-carbon work for migrants; and full access to the universal public services.”
  • “We demand quality public services for all, including universal health and dental care, pharmacare, public education, free university/college, child care, settlement services, legal aid, and pensions; housing as a human right, including high-density, retrofitted, green public housing, alongside rent control and less urban sprawl in the suburbs; free, electrified, fully accessible public transit; and local community ownership, such as neighbourhood transition councils.”