'We need to do something now': Vancouver marches for climate justice

“Hey-ho, hey-ho, fossil fuels have got to go!” chanted thousands of protestors last Friday in Vancouver as the city joined others across the world to strike against climate inaction.

The march, which began at Vancouver City Hall and went towards the Vancouver Art Gallery, brought together community members of all age groups, ranging from children to university students to retirees with one goal in mind: climate justice.

The energy was high in the crowd of marchers. Cheers from the frontlines reverberated to the back line of marchers, and bands were stationed along the route, tweaking the lyrics of familiar tunes to target the harmful actions of big corporations.

As they made their way across Cambie Bridge, the protestors shouted, “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Many also brought signs highlighting the recent issues climate change has caused in BC. One sign read “Canada is on Fire,” referring to this year being one of the most destructive wildfire season’s for BC. Another read “Frack Free BC” — a jab at the BC government subsidies for oil and gas extraction and other signs like “Delay = Disaster” and “For our kids” confronted the broader issue of climate inaction.

Natasha Pappas, a fifth-year psychology student at UBC, marched with a sign challenging the Trans Mountain Expansion project that aims to build pipelines to transport oil from Alberta to BC.

“We need to start switching to renewable energy as soon as possible,” Pappas said. “People always say, ‘Oh, we’ll do it eventually’ but no, we need to do something now.”

The march ended at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where various climate activist groups were stationed alongside live music and speeches.

Suvern Cullis-Suzuki, an activist and writer from the David Suzuki Foundation, directed attention to the extreme weather events and disastrous situations caused by climate change, stating that “every Canadian has personally felt some effect of climate change this summer.”

“Now we are waking up. Now, it’s personal, and now it’s universal. We are here now, awakened to call on our governments to act like leaders,” said Cullis-Suzuki.

Climate Justice UBC (CJUBC), was also at the march. Yeslie Lizarraga, a coordinator at CJUBC, said “I think the idea of having a strike is for the government to realize that people want climate action, and that their inaction is no longer invisible, and people are noticing, and people want to keep them accountable.”

She also spoke about the joy that can come from the climate movement.

“I know climate is a hard topic and a lot of people might not want to engage with it because it can be discouraging and kind of scary … but I hope that people can also know that the climate movement can be joyful … and we can build something joyful as well, from taking climate action.”