Halifax's student climate strike is happening, rain or shine or hurricane, with Lee’s approach a tangible reminder of the climate emergency

A singularly-named weather event is blasting towards Halifax/K’jipuktuk as if in dialogue with this year's annual School Strike 4 Climate rally. Our rapidly changing climate, which recently thrashed Nova Scotia with record-breaking weather events, is once again sticking its outraged hand in the air at this year’s climate strike. Though Hurricane Lee will not arrive in time to cancel this year’s strike the way Hurricane Fiona did one year ago, the significance of the storm’s arrival is explicit. The strike will kick off Friday, Sept. 15 at 12:30pm at Grand Parade in front of Halifax City Hall for opening remarks, before following a parade route down Hollis Street to Morris, then heading back up Barrington Street to end at City Hall for speeches.

The rally starts at 12:30pm at Grand Parade on Friday, Sept. 15, then proceeds clockwise down Hollis Street and turns back up Barrington to return to City Hall. Rain or shine, organizers expect a strong turnout of hundreds of students and allies rallying to hold political leaders accountable on the implementation of climate action plans at all levels of government. Over the weeks and months leading up to Friday’s strike, “there’s been generally a lot of [media] attention—also from my peers, as well,” says three-time School Strike 4 Climate Halifax organizer Sadie Quinn. “I think the extreme weather events that Nova Scotia has experienced in the past few months—well, obviously Hurricane Fiona last year, but also the fires and floods over the summer—I think that's making the climate crisis feel more and more real to people," says School Strike 4 Climate Halifax organizer Sadie Quinn, “and coming to the rally is one way to do that.” In 2022, Hurricane Fiona blew in too hard for the Halifax branch of the student-led international strike movement to safely organize outdoors, forcing the rally’s cancellation. As the Ecology Action Centre observed in an email around this time last year: “The irony of having to cancel a climate rally because of a potentially historic weather event is not lost on us, and only further underlines the urgent need for action: the climate emergency is here. There is no more time to waste.” This year, perhaps thrust by the tailwinds of the impending hurricane, the rally’s slogan is clear: “We’re Still Striking.” “I think, especially with young people, we can see a lot of pessimism, a lot of loss of hope that nothing will ever be done. And even if governments release good plans, they won't follow up on them, or they won't be fast enough,” says Quinn. “Coming together as a group can be a bit of an antidote for that and remind us that we're all experiencing this together. And we all care about this issue.” The strike is geared toward building solidarity for students and youth, but everyone is encouraged to show up and stand with the movement. “It's really important that we have support from adults and from older members of the community because… it's something everybody's experiencing now,” Quinn says.“So, having as much support from as many diverse communities as possible is great. And I especially appreciate parents and teachers who bring their kids and their students out to these events as well.” This is the fifth global climate strike since the youth climate justice movement gained momentum in 2019, when nearly 10,000 students and allies gathered in the streets of Halifax demanding action. Friday’s lineup of speakers includes Kim Fry from Music Declares Emergency, Joanna Bull from the Ecology Action Centre, Aideen Reynolds from the Canadian Federation of Students, and School Strike 4 Climate members Zya Quarmyne-Langdon, Rae Steeves, Iman Mannathukkaren and Amelia Penney-Crocker. “We don't want this to just be the commemoration of those five years. We want it to be a message to local leaders that the youth are still watching, and we are going to continue to make noise as they continue to not act quickly and urgently enough on climate change,” Quinn says. “We have some great climate plans over here, at the municipal level and the Nova Scotia Climate Change plan that came out last year. And both of those are quite promising. But they lack a lot of detail in certain places. So it's great that we have these plans, but they need to be continually funded in every budget and also reported on and updated as the situation evolves.”

Things to know:

*School Strike 4 Climate Halifax begins Friday, Sept. 15 at 12:30pm at City Hall, 1841 Argyle Street. *The strike route will not change, rain or shine. *There will be parade marshals to block the streets for safe marching. *There will likely be a police presence of some sort, as this is nearly unavoidable. *Anyone who wants to reach organizers directly with mobility/safety concerns or otherwise can contact them on Instagram @schoolstrike4climatehfx or by email at schoolstrike4climatehfx@gmail.com For those who can’t attend but would like to help, Quinn encourages people to share the movement's posts on social media, @schoolstrike4climatehfx, and to fill out/share the email template linked in the bio for contacting MLAs to express concerns over stagnation on climate action.

Lauren Phillips, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Coast