NEWS
09/27/2019 14:05 EDT | Updated 10/02/2019 14:02 EDT

Climate Strikes Canada: Protesters Flood The Streets Of 278 Cities To Demand Action

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is in Montreal, but strikes are happening in nearly every Canadian province and territory.

It was an unprecedented day of action Friday as Canadians took to the streets to demand action on climate change in 278 demonstrations across the country. 

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was in Montreal. The 16-year-old met with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and environmental advocate David Suzuki, and accepted gifts from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Swedish activist and student Greta Thunberg, centre, takes part in the Climate Strike in Montreal on Friday.

She also delivered a powerful speech where she condemned global leaders for their inaction on climate change.

“If they had done their job, we wouldn’t need to worry. If they had started acting in time, then this crisis wouldn’t be the crisis it is today,” Thunberg said.

“We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse, even if that means skipping school or work. Because this is more important.”

MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters fill the the streets of Montreal during the global climate strike on Sept. 27 2019. 
EPA/VALERIE BLUM
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg chats with Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. Millions of people across the world are taking part in demonstrations demanding action on climate issues.

According to the Fridays for Future website, protests raged in big cities and small towns alike, in every province and territory except Nunavut. There were demonstrations in places like:

  • Montreal,
  • Toronto,
  • Vancouver,
  • Calgary,
  • Edmonton,
  • Halifax, 
  • La Ronge, Sask.,
  • Dryden, Ont.,
  • Pokemouche, N.B.,
  • Baddeck, N.S.
  • and Cold Lake, A.B.

Some workplaces shut down and some schools allowed students to skip class to take part in the “climate strikes.”

Chris Young/Canadian Press
Protesters descend on the Ontario legislature in Toronto for a climate strike on Sept. 27, 2019.
Chris Young/Canadian Press
First Nations activist Caroline Crawley addresses the crowd as protesters gather outside the Ontario legislature for a climate strike in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2019.

Thunberg started the movement with weekly sit-ins at the Swedish legislature last year. “Fridays for Future” has since snowballed into an international phenomenon. Last week, millions of people participated in marches around the world. 

At the United Nations Monday, Thunberg chastised world leaders for failing to halt climate change. 

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said. 

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press
Young people hold signs with messages like "Act now or swim later" and "We're f***ed" outside Vancouver City Hall before marching downtown for a climate strike in Vancouver on Sept. 27, 2019.
Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press
Thousands of people gather outside Vancouver City Hall before marching downtown for a climate strike in Vancouver on Sept. 27, 2019.
Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press
A drawing of Greta Thunberg is seen on a protest sign as thousands march on the property of Nova Scotia Power during a climate strike in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2019.
Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press
A demonstrator holds a photo of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in a canoe surrounded by smoke and fire at a climate protest in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019.

After her conversation with Trudeau Friday, Thunberg said he is “obviously not doing enough” but that her message for all leaders is the same.

“Listen to the science and act on the science.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh participated in a strike in Victoria Friday and Green Leader Elizabeth May was in Montreal. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer did not take part.

Megan McClean
A demonstrator pronounces Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer a "fossil fool" at a climate strike in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2019.

The UN’s panel of climate scientists says that humanity’s window to prevent disastrous climate change is quickly closing. If world leaders want to meet an aspirational target made in the 2015 Paris accord, to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, all countries must completely wipe out carbon emissions by 2050. At 1.5 degrees, island nations and coastal cities like New York and Mumbai risk catastrophic flooding.

Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press
"The wrong Amazon is burning," reads a sign at a climate protest in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2019, in reference to forest fires that have burned through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

With files from HuffPost U.S. and The Canadian Press