Inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, community members in Smiths Falls came together to protest climate change as part of a global effort on Friday, March 15. Cities around the world held protests today. The protest in Smiths Falls is one small part of a larger effort to urge world leaders to take action and reduce carbon emissions.
Thunberg spoke at the global economic summit and is nominated for the Nobel peace prize. Her climate change protests on Fridays started an international effort dubbed “Friday’s for the future.”
The protest was held at noon in front of the town hall in Smiths Falls and organized by Green Party candidate Anita Payne and local environmental activist Susan Brandum as part of the Citizens Climate Lobby.
“We have a lot of older people that are really active in climate issues in our area,” Payne said. “We’re hoping to spread around Lanark County.”
Supporters wore green capes and held signs saying, “climate chaos is here” and “honk for climate action” as cars drove down Beckwith Street. Mayor Shawn Pankow and town councillors Wendy Alford and Peter McKenna joined the protestors.
“The future is worth looking stupid for,” Andrew MacDonald said while wearing a joker hat.
Payne says she hopes this protest will be the start of monthly protests for many months to come. The hope is that neighbouring towns, such as Almonte and Carleton Place will join the movement.
11-year-old Gabriel St. Louis came out to protest with his hair dyed green for the occasion. “Climate change is destroying the earth,” St. Louis said.
The Citizens Climate Lobby is planning to make a third request to council to join the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Climate Action network.
“We’re hoping when we go to present to Lanark County council in Smiths Falls that we will persuade them this time to do this together. And to become part of the FCM’s climate action program,” Brandum said. “This is an opportunity to continue to raise awareness about this crisis and to really drive home the message that now is the time, we can’t wait any longer. The planet can’t wait any longer.”
There were three previous climate change protests in Perth since January, but this is the first time a protest was held in Smiths Falls. There was also a protest later in the afternoon in Perth.