A crowd of several thousand people came out to march against climate change in Montreal on Saturday, the majority of whom were wearing masks and respecting public health guidelines.
This time last year, the climate march drew an estimated half a million people, including environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
Now that the entire Montreal metropolitan area is under orange alert due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, organizers believe some people stayed home who would otherwise have joined in to support the cause.
The march was organized by a coalition of activist groups who came together outside Place du Canada on Saturday afternoon.
A group called For Our Kids Montréal set up an art installation made up of empty children's shoes to symbolize the effect of climate change inaction on future generations.
"The shoes represent the children who are affected by the climate change crisis," said Dr. Kelly Martin, an emergency room doctor in Montreal and a member of For Our Kids. "So this is to represent the bleakness really of their future."
She said that society has a "moral obligation" to protect kids, and that adults need to take action before it's too late.
"It's not up to the kids to solve the climate change crisis that we created," said Martin. "It's up to governments to say and show the immediacy of climate change.… We are not invincible. We cannot keep on living like we're living."
Elijah Olise, an organizer with the racial justice collective, said that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed, not ignored.
"The climate — it can't be swept underneath the rug." he said. "We have a deadline and if we don't reach those deadlines, there will be serious consequences."
Olise said that social, racial and environmental justice issues are related, and that society can't address one without the other.
"We need to heal our communities just as we need to heal our environment," he said.
He added that it's time for governments to listen to youth and scientists who are sounding the alarm, rather than holding onto "old ideologies."