Photo essay: “This is not just the start”: Students rally to demand climate change action

“Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!”

“No more coal! No more oil! Keep your carbon in the soil!”

“You are unstoppable, another world is possible!”

Such were the chants of hundreds of students and community members, who rallied for a global climate strike on Sept. 24.

Donning signs and clad in masks, protesters gathered at Victoria Park in Halifax at noon. There, they listened to several speakers before marching to rally in front of Province House on Hollis Street and Nova Scotia Power on Lower Water Street.

The global climate strike was spearheaded by Fridays for Future, a youth-led climate strike movement started by environmental activist Greta Thunberg. This year’s strike focused on uprooting systemic racism and capitalism.

“As an Indigenous person, climate change is directly related with colonialism and capitalism,” said Sophia Sidarous, a speaker from the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick. “And these systems that are in place today with the Indian Act and with the institution of Canada as itself are perpetuating oppression against Indigenous peoples.”

Jane Elliott, a grade ten student from Halifax West High School, cited climate science from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) while addressing the crowd.

“The climate is changing and it will continue to do so,” said Elliot, “but if we can put the lives of the many over the profit of the few for these next few years and beyond, we can do critical damage control.”

Dalhousie and King’s students were excused from classes between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to attend the strike. To avoid penalty for missed assessments, they had to inform instructors at least 24 hours in advance of their absence.

Before the rally, Dalhousie’s Environmental Sustainability Society (YESS) invited Dalhousie and King’s students to meet in front of the Mona Campbell Building to proceed to the park together.

“Students are such a big and energized cohort of society that sometimes do not get their voices amplified in parliament, so we need to use social activism to get it that way,” said YESS president Aline Maybank in an interview.

“We’re hoping, similar to every single year, that this is not just the start,” Maybank added. “This is just a stepping stone for hopefully more to come.”

YESS Sustainability Officer Jenna Neate (middle) speaks with students in front of the Mona Campbell Building on Sept. 24. Dalhousie and King’s students were invited to meet there to walk to Victoria Park together.

King’s Student Union External VP Aideen Reynolds and YESS Sustainability Officer Jenna Neate lead students from the Mona Campbell Building to Victoria Park. 

Students carry signs as they proceed down Coburg Road.

Students holding up signs pose for a photo at Victoria Park.

A crowd gathers at Victoria Park.

Students, holding signs, listen to speakers.

Protester holds up a sign that says, “School Strike.”

Sophia Sidarous, a speaker from the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick, addresses the crowd. “I hope that everyone at this climate strike realizes their obligation to reconciliation, because to Indigenous peoples, it’s not about reconciliation with the crown,” said Sidarous. “We will never reconcile with an oppressive settler state. We will reconcile with individuals in society that will actually take a stand for Indigenous rights and sovereignty.”

Protesters hold up signs while listening to speakers.

Students and community members alike listen.

Sadie Queen, one of the rally’s organizers, plays ukulele for the crowd.

Protesters head up South Park Street, holding up signs. 

Protesters continue down Duke Street.

Protesters gather outside Province House on Hollis Street, demanding change.

A woman raises one first while holding a banner in the other.

Jane Elliott, one of the rally’s organizers, takes a photo of the crowd gathered in front of Province House.

Protesters continue down Hollis Street, on their way to Nova Scotia Power. 

A volunteer advocating against the sale of Owls Head, a provincial park, chants. 

A man watches protesters march by from his window on Hollis Street.

Protesters hold up their signs as they proceed toward NS Power.

A young boy and girl hold signs above their heads.

Outside of NS Power, protesters gather and chant.

Tim Halman, NS Minister of Environment and Climate Change, speaks with Emma Norton, Atlantic Organizer of the Climate Emergency Unit.

Former NS premier Iain Rankin speaks with first-year King’s student Ava Lelond.

The crowd gathers back at Victoria Park.

One of the strike’s organizers, Citadel High School student Amelia Penney-Crocker, speaks to the crowd.

People sign a petition against the sale of Owls Head provincial park. 

Signs are saved after the rally finishes.

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