By Elijah O’Donnell
Assistant Entertainment Editor
“Greta Thunberg visits Edmonton!”
“Sixteen-Year-old Climate Activist in Edmonton.”
“Greta Leads Climate March.”
These were the kinds of headlines I saw leading up to and after the climate protests that took place on Oct. 18. For anyone who somehow missed what happened, Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old climate activist from Sweden, came to Edmonton and marched with Edmontonians from Beaver Hills House Park to the Alberta Legislature Building. They were protesting injustice done to the climate.
Thunberg being in Edmonton is of course exciting; she was the one who brought climate activism to so many people, young and old. She began a conversation, has gotten people involved and has seriously made a difference.
Nevertheless, she is a celebrity. She draws in people who would not have gone to the rally. The Alberta Legislature front fountain was packed with protesters listening to speakers on the steps, roughly 8000 of them–much more than the 4000 who attended the previous rally on Sept. 27.
The march started at Beaver Hills House Park at 11 a.m. and moved towards the Legislature, while chanting:
“Show me what community looks like.
This is what community looks like!”
“Get up, get down, keep the fossil fuels in the ground.”
“Separate oil and state, stop the pipeline, stop the hate!”
“There is no planet B, the seas are rising, and so are we!”
All the while, honks and hollers from Canadian oil and gas group United We Roll could be heard from streets away.
After a few speakers, Thunberg finally took the podium. She gave a rallying speech, and everyone was loud with ideas of change in their heads.
The problem was that without Thunberg, a large part of the audience dissipated. Almost as soon as she finished speaking and the crowd stopped cheering, people turned on their heels and left now that Thunberg, the star, was gone.
For someone who was not at the rally, this might be all that it looks like, but there was so much more.
Thunberg did not lead the march, aboriginal youth and elders did. Thunberg might have been the most prominent speaker there, bringing in people who might not have an awareness of the Indigenous issues taking place. However, every person speaking before Thunberg had something equally powerful to say.
Climate change is an indigenous issue, at least in Canada. The root cause of climate injustice can be traced back to colonialism and the settling of Europeans on Turtle Island (Canada). Ever since then, Indigenous people have been fighting for their land, and to live in a place where food comes from the land, not factory farms, and clothing come from fields, not textile plants.
All of the speakers before Thunberg had something to say about Indigenous issues in Edmonton and Canada. Most of the speakers were Indigenous themselves, talking about the real issues they face, and that affects them. They spoke about how the education system has spoon-fed them “lies about oil booms and economic growth” and similar sentiments.
There was also a counter-protest from the aforementioned United We Roll oil and gas group. Counter-protesters crowded downtown Edmonton with roughly 50 trucks, some of which made their way from Red Deer to join the festivities.