Caitlin Kellendonk of Castlegar getting signatures on the youth parliamentary petition at the September 2019 climate strike in Nelson. Photo: Carlo Alcos

Caitlin Kellendonk of Castlegar getting signatures on the youth parliamentary petition at the September 2019 climate strike in Nelson. Photo: Carlo Alcos

Kootenay youth climate concerns amplified in Parliament

MP Cannings presented petition in the House of Commons 11 times this fall

No one is surprised that young people are very concerned about the climate crisis.

Nor is it surprising that they are underrepresented in places of power, like Parliament.

To counter this, youth in the Kootenays drafted a formal Parliamentary Petition expressing their concerns and their expectations of government. Last year youth in both the East and West Kootenay obtained over 600 signatures on their petition during the climate strikes — when millions of people across the globe took to the streets to demand more climate action.

“The voices of young people continue to be disadvantaged and discouraged by our society,” said Linn Murray, one of the youth who drafted the petition. “There is an awful lot of talk about consulting with youth, but there is rarely any interest in actually listening or taking action.”

Murray, 21, is involved with the Fridays For Future team in the West Kootenay.

He was initially inspired to create the petition after a trip to Ottawa with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The petitions were separated into smaller petition packages to maximize exposure in Parliament once youth could find a champion to present them.

After MP Rob Morrison (Kootenay—Columbia) did not commit to presenting them, they found that champion in MP Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay).

Mr. Cannings presented the petition in the House of Commons eleven separate times this fall.

“I’m happy to see that more and more young people are encouraging politicians to act responsibly and expeditiously on climate change,” said Mr. Cannings. “It’s their future that is at stake, and the government should be listening to their voices.”

The petition states that “youth are anxious that they are being left with an uncertain future in which we can grow, survive, and thrive.”

They ask the government to enact science-based targets, keep raising the national carbon price through this decade, put an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and redirect funds to renewable energy, energy efficiency, low-carbon transportation, and job training.

The recent release of a more ambitious climate plan and climate accountability legislation (Bill C-12) are signs they may finally be listening.

“On behalf of our team, and young people throughout the Kootenays, Fridays For Future West-Kootenay would like to extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You’,” said Murray in an online message he helped create for Mr. Cannings for youth to sign. “We look forward to continuing to work together towards a sustainable future in the new year.”

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