A 13-year old Tahltan-Wet’suwet’en youth isn’t going to give up the fight for a better and greener future.
Montay Beaubien-Day is one of 15 children and youth from across the country who took the Government of Canada to court arguing their rights to life, liberty and security were being violated due to government’s failure to address climate change.
“I thought it was pretty disappointing,” he said of a federal court decision late last month that struck down the lawsuit.
“It was really sad, but I hope the decision is appealed.”
Montay and his family’s ranch, as well as their family cabin, was razed in 2018 when a fire jumped the Stikine River and roared down the hillside. It was one of dozens of structures that were destroyed by the Alkali Lake wildfire that resulted in a 102-day evacuation order of Telegraph Creek.
“It was one of my favorite places to go,” Montay said, noting he is convinced climate change had played a major role.
The lightning-caused fire had merged with three other fires growing to more than 118,000 hectares.
In August 2019 —one year after Alkali Lake wildfire discovery —BC Wildfire Service noted the potential for holdover fires to re-emerge with the ‘hot, dry weather experienced at the beginning of summer’ and said the Northwest Fire Centre had responded to nearly 20 such flare-ups.
For Montay’s dad, Chad Norman Day, the emotional recovery remains ongoing.
“It may never be the same,” Day said.
While there were few fires this summer amid the novel coronavirus pandemic both are alarmed by worldwide events that are appearing to become ever more destructive, such as wildfires in Australia and California.
“I hope we get another chance because we really deserve it,” Montay said.
“Climate change is going to do worse, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t really helping that much and we want him to help more.”
Filed in Oct. 2019, the lawsuit against the federal government was funded by various sources including the David Suzuki Foundation, and would become known as the La Rose case. A year later it would be dismissed by a federal court judge who said he believed the questions raised “are political that the courts are incapable or unsuited to deal with them.”
Described as a minimalist by Day, Montay said he will continue to fight for Mother Earth.
Since he and his family attended a rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery —the day the lawsuit was filed — Montay has made lifelong friends who share his passion for a better future.
He has embraced veganism and was even able to meet Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist who has become known internationally for protesting the inaction of governments when it comes to climate change.
“All of us in our family have changed the way that we think about the planet and nutrition due to Montay’s influence,” Day said.
“He has inspired us.”
Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune