Despite the overcast weather, the crowd came out to Confederation park Friday afternoon, May 03, 2019 to urge politicians and their fellow citizens to take action on climate change.
The lineup of speakers and guests included local politicians, councillors, professors, activists, faith leaders, artists, and health officials. Councillor Rob Kiley opened the event with a statement urging Kingstonians to “always be gathering and always be pushing towards our goals.” He was followed by Théo Pardiso & Yessica Rivera Belsham, an Indigenous musical performance duo who sang some well-received songs. Queen’s School of Business Sustainability, Environmental Policy, and Ecological Economics professor Steven Moore gave a rousing speech compelling the protestors to “commit to a better future” and “take back our democracy.”
Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health unit spoke to the need for “consistent and persistent action against climate change” and stated that KFL&A Public Health “is working towards mitigating the effects of climate change and helping us adapt.”
Ian Arthur, MPP for Kingston and the Islands delivered an emotional speech to the crowd.
“Climate change should be at the front of every political, economic and public health agenda,” Arthur said.
“People are dying right now because of the climate emergency. It should override everything else. Everything we need to work on and take care of becomes so much harder if we don’t deal with the environmental crisis.”
Arthur described the stress and difficulty of taking action against climate change, but said “its events like this that make me keep going.”
There was a noticeable surge in attendance around 3 p.m. as students got out of school and came down to join the cause.
Subsequent speakers included Pastor Edgar Nunes from Seventh Day Adventist Church, and student activists. Zachary Typhair, a St. Lawrence College Student, talked about how voting Green is “not a wasted vote” because it showed the other parties that environmental issues were important enough to be part of their political platform. Lauren Carson and Tiffanie Bankosky, both students at Queen’s University, also delivered poignant statements on the importance of taking action before it’s too late. Harmonica player and singer Charly Chiarelli sang a song inspired by young climate activist Greta Thunberg, then gave the stage to Tess Whitman from Sustainable Kingston. Whitman spoke about her role as a mother in relation to her work in sustainability, saying “It’s our children and youth that are going to suffer the most” from the effects of climate change.”
The event was capped off with a statement from Mark Gerretsen, MP of Kingston & the Islands, who thanked everyone for attending and told the crowd, “What you’re doing is making a difference. I guarantee you.”