More needs to be done to deter a climate crisis, said organizers
A protest for climate and social justice took place on Sept. 26, starting at Place du Canada. The event began with a word from the organizers about safety measures and a few speeches from different invited organizations. Then, the climate march, encased by police officers, led protesters through Montreal’s streets to the Parc des Faubourgs where closing speeches were given.
One year after the historic climate march that brought over 500,000 people to Montreal’s streets, little action has been taken by the government, said protest organizers. Carbon neutrality by 2030, a full recognition of Indigenous sovereignty on the territory and defunding the police were at the heart of the discussion.
Several social justice groups organized the protest, including La Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social (CEVES), la Planète s’invite au Parlement (LPSP) and the Defund the Police Coalition.
John Nathaniel Gertler, member of CEVES and one of the organizers of the protest, told The Concordian that the message they want to pass on is not the same as last year.
For Anne-Marie Lortie, a student in Urban Planning at Concordia, it was important to be there.
“I was there last year … and one year later, there are still no changes. I think we need to reiterate the message until someone understands.”
Intersectionality: a voice for everybody
For Elijah Olise, spokesperson for the Racial Justice Collective and for the Defund the Police Coalition, the link between racial justice and climate justice is clear.
“People who are affected by climate changes [are] the most marginalized people and that is not by accident. That is a choice made by the people who take the decisions in our communities,” he said in a speech before the march.
For him, it was important to give a voice to minorities in the fight for climate justice.
“Across Canada, toxic dumps, risky pipeline projects and tainted drinking water disproportionally curse Indigenous and Black communities. I want these people that I am talking about to be seen and heard and feel powerful,” he added.
Many other organizations walked during the protest including IRA Mauritanie, which fights against Black discrimination in Mauritania.
“We are in the 21st century and still Black people are being killed, being dispossessed of their land and their rights. We are fighting for the independence of human dignity,” said spokesperson for IRA Mauritanie.
The importance of a protest even during a pandemic
When Montreal was declared an orange zone last week, organizers had a meeting to discuss the legitimacy of still holding a protest.
“The thing to keep in mind is that coronavirus is a health crisis for sure, but the things we are discussing here are just as much risks for people’s lives and livelihoods, if not more,” said Gertler.
The organizers prepared different protocols to ensure the protest met health and safety guidelines. Volunteers were on the field distributing masks and ensuring social distancing between protesters.
“A big thing we knew was that protests don’t seem to be the biggest spread [of the virus] … we are all outside, we are all [keeping] our distance,” added Gertler.
Milan Codbecq-Pérus, a volunteer at the protest declared, “We can exercise our right to democracy despite the situation. There is a way to be safe and responsible and to maintain social distancing while demonstrating our discontent.”
Photos by Mina Collin