Yellowknife students urge government to declare climate emergency

Students in Yellowknife skipped school Friday to compel the territorial government to declare a climate emergency.

Starting at 9 a.m., several students and residents gathered in front of the Legislative Assembly carrying signs and banners reading "this is an emergency act like it" and "there is no planet B" as they gave speeches, sipped hot chocolate and passed around a petition. 

Organizers and attendees said they want to show the world the North is serious about seeing bold action on the climate crisis. 

"We have a beautiful planet to live on, we have everything we need and we're destroying it," said Kira Young, a student at École William MacDonald School. "Ironically we know very well what the solution is but the government isn't stepping up and taking action." 

Emily Blake/CBC

Kyle Rogers, who is part of Our Time and Climate Strike YK, said he started getting concerned about the climate in 2014. It was one of the territory's worst forest fire seasons. 

"I just remember the black sky coming up out of nowhere in the far distance," he said. "We've never seen anything like that. It really felt like we were in an apocalypse."

At least two politicians were in attendance Friday, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly and Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson.

"I find this really inspiring," Johnson said. "I admire these youth." 

Emily Blake/CBC

He said he will push for the government to declare a climate emergency.

The strike is one of many taking place across the globe known as Fridays for Future or Youth Strike for Climate, inspired by Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg. 

In Inuvik, students at East Three School have been holding climate strikes every Friday since mid-March. 

Students and other residents across the North also participated in a nationwide march for action on climate change in September.

Emily Blake/CBC