Ballenas Secondary students staged a Climate Change Walkout on Friday, May 24. (Peter McCully photo)

‘Why is it important for our voices to be heard?’

Parksville student details reasoning behind Climate Change Walkout

By Casey Reumkens

How can we generate climate change conversations? Why is it important for our voices to be heard?

Since May 24 was the global climate student strike day, we knew we had to organize our own Climate Change Walkout. The aim of the walkout was to empower youth; to give us a voice over an issue that is prevalent to us, and our futures. The whole walkout came from students and our hunger for change. It was organized by Interact members including myself, and once finished, gave us a huge feeling of accomplishment.

We were utterly inspired, and in awe of Greta Thunberg and FridaysForFuture’s messages: “Why study for a future, which may not be there? Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?”

To spread awareness, we used a digital poster, which we plastered all over our social media platforms. It urged students from Ballenas to join the protest by leaving school after lunch, and walking down in unity to Parksville city hall.

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Once we arrived at city hall, we were greeted by retired teachers, broombusters, parents, business people and Parksville Coun. Adam Fras who spoke to us, and thanked us, saying “this is how you get your voices heard.”

Fras was the only council member to support a plastic bag ban in Parksville and since the ban did not pass, the walkout was a way for us to voice our concerns.

Coming from this place of fiery passion is key, but it was vital for all students involved to be knowledgeable on climate change issues before. So, prior to the walkout, Interact members Devin O’Rourke and Spencer Bradbury organized a climate forum.

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The forum was mandatory for all Ballenas students and included a wide variety of guest speakers, Guy Dauncey, Chief Michael Recalma, and two students from the Ballenas Environmental Club.

From the moment the walk started, to the moment it finished, we felt a sense of community within each other. It felt like anything was possible.

There were just under 200 students in attendance, and while we might not direct immediate change, this was a beautiful start.

When cars passed us and honked in support, we cheered and chanted: “What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!”

Everyone was incredibly passionate, and I know this was a day we will remember. This is a story to tell our children, whose futures will be brighter due to people like us who are willing to start a conversation, who want to create change.

Casey Reumkens is a student at Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary School

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