Demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline and live up to his campaign promises regarding climate change, 100 students and young people from around the country demonstrated Monday at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
"When Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister in October 2015, he promised real change: he promised a nation to nation relationship with Indigenous peoples and true reconciliation," one participant wrote in the days before the Climate 101 rally. "He promised action on climate change, and to address the needs of young people. If Trudeau approves the Kinder Morgan pipeline this December, he will break all of those promises."
The Kinder Morgan pipeline would transport 890,000 barrels of tar sands crude to the British Columbia coast each day and would make it impossible for Canada to meet its emissions targets set forth in the Paris climate accord, green groups argue.
The rally was eventually dispersed when police arrested dozens who attempted to cross a police line to deliver their message directly to Canada's leaders.
Over 75 people were arrested, according to organizers on the ground.
"Climate leaders don’t build pipelines," explained Sophie Birks, a Mcgill University student arrested at the action. "My generation wants to see real action on climate change and Indigenous rights. That starts with rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline."
"The Kinder Morgan pipeline would directly threaten my nation and my home," added Cedar Parker-George, a member of the Tsleil Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory abuts the proposed endpoint of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Vancouver, B.C. "Justin Trudeau promised to listen to Indigenous communities, well my community has been pretty clear; reject this pipeline and protect the water, the land and the climate."
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“I have always been conscious of my place on Earth and how much space I take up," wrote Birks of her reasons for taking part. "I've tried to adopt more sustainable practices in my personal life but I feel constantly disappointed by the lack of institutional action. There was so much potential when the Liberals were elected last year but when it comes to climate change, they seem to say one thing but do another."
Climate-conscious millennials helped give Trudeau's Liberal party a majority in the last election, polling has suggested, and the power of the youth vote is only increasing, Climate 101 organizers argue.
"I'm ready for them to start taking real action," Birks said. "I am ready for our government to start listening—and I know that, as young people, we have the power to make some big changes."
Participants documented the day's action on social media under the hashtag #Climate101:
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) October 24, 2016
— Liz Bernstein (@lizbernstein) October 24, 2016
— Divest McGill (@DivestMcGill) October 24, 2016
— Cam Fenton (@CamFenton) October 24, 2016