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Social Distancing — Youth Climate Protest returns to Nelson

A photo from high in the sky shows protesters lining BOB during Friday's Climate protest in Nelson. — Fridays for Future submitted photos

Adhering to social distancing rules set down by health officials in BC during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson’s Fridays for Future joined fellow activists around the world at a climate strike Friday at Lakeside Park.

The rally, just one of many held throughout the world, was staged to underscore the urgency of the climate crisis even though the world is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We believe it is vitally important to keep the pressure on governments to take action on the environment,” said Jamie, one of the organizers of the climate action at Lakeside Park that attracted more than 100 people on a cold, miserable day in Nelson.

“Since last September, major strides have been made, but there is still so much work to be done, and we feel that governments need to be held accountable,” the Selkirk College student added.

“The strike in Nelson was part of a larger global strike day and events took place in a large number of countries around the world, as well as in cities across Canada.”

Organizers expected a crowd in the neighbourhood of 50 people given the weather and the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the organizing group counted approximately 120 protesters rallying to bring awareness of the need to address climate change.

“We decided to go ahead with September's strike, with social distancing, masks and hand sanitizers,” explained Jamie, enrolled in Peace and Justice Studies at Selkirk College.

“Throughout the later months of COVID, two members of our group have been striking every Friday outside City Hall to show that we have not given up . . . (we’ve) just changed our tactics a little.”

The climate strike started at Lakeside Park before participants, wearing masks, walked with signs up the stairs onto Highway 3A, lining the sidewalk across the Big Orange Bridge.

The Friday’s for Future Nelson groups admits it’s been difficult to keep the message in the forefront of the public while the world deals with COVID-19.

The group has been forced to cancel a couple of in-person events, due to the restrictions and have struggled with engaging people online.

There are no future rally events planned, but rest assured, Friday’s for Future Nelson said the group will not stop until climate change is taken seriously by government and business leaders.

“We will not let (COVID-19) stop us though . . . strikes will continue in the future, whether schools are supportive or not,” said Jamie, adding crowd  numbers were down due to administration discouraging high school students from attending during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that we have to save our future, and will do it no matter what may stand against us.”

The Fridays for Future group said one of the main solutions they are pushing for is an international crime of ecocide (mass destruction of the planet).

“We believe this is an action that would radically change the way our society currently works, and help shift to a more sustainable way of being,” Jamie said.

Fridays for Future Nelson believes since September 2019, when the climate strike in Nelson attracted 1500-2000 people, major strides have been made.

However, much work remains to be done.

The Nelson strike was part of a larger global strike day with events taking place across cities in Canada and around the world, including in Stockholm, Sweden where climate activist Greta Thunberg protested in front of the Swedish parliament.

Wearing masks, protesters lined the Big Orange Bridge with signs during Friday's Climate Protest.

From one side of the bridge to the other, Social Distancing and protesting during a pandemic.

A "Climate" sign was draped over the Big Orange Bridge during Friday's protest.