In light of a global pandemic, this year’s Global Climate Strike looked a little different but held the same message as previous strikes hosted by Friday’s For Future (FFF). The organization's mission is to remind people that climate change continues to affect our lives from the air we breathe to the water we drink, and everything in between. For Green Peace activist Helia Sehatpour, participating in Friday’s call to action was her first in-person strike since the coronavirus affected Toronto more than six months ago. “I’m sad to have to be here but at the same time it’s very empowering to be among people who feel the same way that I do,” Sehatpour said. “It’s really good to finally be able to come together and feel that collective energy, and actually do something about it.” FFF Toronto is one of thousands of FFF communities around the world that organize and coordinate global actions to encourage effective policy change. For Toronto, this year marked the first socially-distanced sit-in at the intersection of Bay and Wellesley W. With sanitation stations available and markings on the ground to separate the participants, attendees were kept safe throughout the three-hour event. “I’m impressed with all the youth organizing this because I’ve been on so many protests and marches and rallies this summer, and not everyone is as good as enforcing [safety measures],” Meghana Rajanahally said. “Here, there is a lot of collective concern for each other.” Rajanahally was one of the speakers to educate both attendees and passersby circulating around the intersection. As a Marine Biologist and environmentalist, Rajanhally’s passion for saving the planet began as early and four years old. Now, she shares her research internationally. “I think we all need to be spokespeople because we all need to be doing this together for the climate to not suffer,” Rajanhally said. Since covid-19 made in-person actions less feasible, FFF continues to spread their message digitally through online movements. In Toronto, FFF has its own subset for the University of Toronto (UofT) which prioritizes student and youth engagement. Kendall Mar, a first year graduate student at the University of Toronto, is one of the organizers for this year’s rally. “FFF is pretty empowering,” Mar said. “I think for a lot of us, it’s a way that we can connect with people who have the same outlook on the climate crisis where we otherwise wouldn’t really be able to express our concern.” For Laura Hernandez, it’s important to raise social and economic awareness to the climate justice movement in order to force the hand of people in power for positive change. The first year graduate student at UofT Mississauga and logistics coordinator for FFF said “It’s powerful to see people talking about politics. I’m 24 and you see [young people] talking about this, and I think it’s a really great start.” For those interested in participating in more FFF calls to action, volunteer intakes are available on the website. Or, you can follow the hashtags #notgoingback or #justrecovery for updates on social media.
(Photo: Varsha Ramdihol)