THE BLOG
04/05/2019 08:57 EDT | Updated 04/05/2019 09:00 EDT

We Must Stand With Young People As They Fight For Their Future

This generation faces the real possibility of being worse off than the generation before them.

MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE via Getty Images
Thousands of protesters flood the streets of Montreal during the march for climate, on Mar. 15, 2019.

There was a time when adults would say things like, "We need to stand up for the kids" or "We need to do this or that for the next generation."

It seems to me, though, that the time may have come to change how we say such things — and that's a good thing.

As young people rally for quality education — as has been happening in Ontario — march for action on climate change around the world, challenge their politicians in the U.S. to bring in meaningful gun control, we must do more than just stand up for young people.

Instead, we must stand with them, shoulder to shoulder, and be allies as they fight for their future.

Young people are standing up in ways and in numbers that we have not seen for some time, showing true leadership, while too many politicians resort to the old tropes of bullying and fear-mongering in an attempt to win cheap political points.

Young people are also not passively standing by or leaving it to their parents to fight back against cuts to their education.

Take this week as we saw the sorry spectacle of Conservative politicians across the country trying to scare people with the prospect of higher gas and heating bills, pumping gas into their luxury vehicles on the eve of the new carbon tax.

Young people are having none of it. Instead, they are taking action. When young people rallied around the world a few weeks ago on climate change, one of the biggest rallies was in Montreal. Rallies were also held in Toronto, Vancouver and around the world.

They know that their future depends on a just transition to a cleaner economy that ensures good jobs while addressing climate change.

Young people are also not passively standing by or leaving it to their parents to fight back against cuts to their education.

In Ontario, for instance, students protested on the lawn of Queen's Park to push back against the plans of Ontario Premier Doug Ford to Increase class sizes and cut thousands of teacher and support staff jobs. There were adults standing with them, including myself, because it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with them.

This isn't the first time students have pushed back — in January, post-secondary students rallied against cuts to their education, for instance — and it won't be the last.

In Alberta, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney is already facing student protests over his policies and their impact on young people.

As the Alberta election nears, I wouldn't be surprised if he faces even more young people demanding fair wages, action on climate change and protection for gay-straight alliances — something that has already sparked outrage — and more.

Young people have had enough. It's their future at risk. They are rightfully growing tired of old politicians playing games with their futures, and they're taking a stand.

Good on them. Thanks to the growth of precarious work, staggering levels of student debt and the rising cost of housing across Canada, this generation faces the real possibility of being worse off than the generation before them.

More from HuffPost Canada:

While the challenges facing young people have sadly driven some to embrace hate groups, from everything I've seen, this is a generation more dedicated to equality and equity than many before.

Take for just one example the six millennials who pooled their money and bought a house together because none of them could afford one on their own.

Their ownership stakes range between two and 30 per cent. They won't say who owns what, however, because they consider everyone to be equal when making decisions in their small community. Rich or poor, they are all equal.

If only the rest of us could get things so right.

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