Hundreds of student strikers march on Sackville town hall to demand action on climate change

Student strikers marching to Sackville Town Hall (click to enlarge)

Hundreds of students in Sackville rallied in the academic quadrangle at Mount Allison University today before marching to town hall to demand that all levels of government take action on climate change.

Students from Salem Elementary, Marshview Middle School, Tantramar Regional High and the university were participating in a global education strike with young people in more than 100 countries skipping classes to participate in marches and rallies.

Students rally in the Mt. A. academic quad

In Sackville, students carried a wide range of protest signs including one that read “Capitalism Must Go To Save Our Planet” and another that said, “I’m Sure The Dinosaurs Thought They Had Time Too.”

Tantramar High students Kaylee Mikalauskas (L) and Severine Beisser-Jackson

As they marched east on York Street and then south on Main, the students shouted a variety of chants including “No more coal, no more oil. Keep the carbon in the soil.”

Many spoke of their fears for the future in a warming world.

“I am absolutely terrified,” said Mt. A. student Emily Steers as she spoke to the rally outside town hall. She added that when she read the latest UN report on climate change last October, she wept.

“We are in a crisis of our own making and we can stop it,” she said. “We can do this, but will we?”

Steers castigated politicians who are fighting against carbon taxes while pushing for more oil pipelines. She drew cheers when she called for a fundamental economic shift.

“Our economy needs to change right now away from an oil-based economy,” she said.

Mt. A. student Shen Molloy

Earlier, at Mt. A., environmental science and biology student Shen Molloy warned that Sackville and vicinity is especially vulnerable to climate change because of the potential for flooding that could cut off the TransCanada highway and the CN rail line, shutting down the daily movement of goods worth $50 million across the Chignecto Isthmus.

“It is fantastic to see so many kids here taking action against climate change. It gives me hope for the future,” Molloy said.

“Everyone is responsible for the conservation of the environment,” she added. “Ultimately the greatest threat to the environment is assuming someone else will save it.”

Meantime, Quinn MacAskill, a Grade 8 student at Marshview, spoke at both rallies, reciting a poem at Mt. A. and delivering a plea for change outside town hall.

“I wish to walk through the trees without fear they will soon be cut down,” she said. “I wish to lie on the beach and let sand sift through my fingers, not plastic.”

Marshview student Quinn MacAskill

MacAskill added that she also wished to breathe clean air and eat “food grown by loving hands in the familiar soil of my garden, not food grown by a machine thousands of kilometres away.”

She called on the town to update its Sustainable Sackville plan noting that the plan already calls for protection of both community health and the health of natural eco-systems.

“I believe in those words,” she said, “and I think Sackville has the capability to become a leader in the province and even in our country.”

The students presented a two-page letter to MLA Megan Mitton, Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken and Councillors Bill Evans and Allison Butcher.

The letter calls on the town to declare a Climate Emergency, an action already taken by such cities and towns as Halifax, Vancouver and Kingston, Ontario.

Mitton pledged that as the youngest member of the legislature, she would stand with the students in fighting for action on climate change.

Ron Aiken noted that town council has already taken a number of steps such as opposing the Energy East pipeline, banning single-use plastic water bottles at town hall and buying a hybrid car for the bylaw officer.

Aiken drew laughter when he said he’s so old that he participated in the first Earth Day in 1970. He added that his generation tried to do something about what they called pollution.

Mt. A. student and rally organizer Hanna Longard

“We failed, we failed utterly,” he said. “Don’t do what my generation did. Do something different, have a new idea and push it forward,” he added.

Hanna Longard, one of the main organizers of today’s march and rallies, called on politicians and policymakers to take the steps students are asking for in their letter.

“If you say no to our asks, you’re saying no to our lives and the lives of those yet to come,” she said. “Don’t let the weight of our broken future sit on your shoulders. Take responsibility and use your positions of power to give us a fighting chance.”

To read the complete text of the students’ letter, click here.

This entry was posted in Environment, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick government, New Brunswick politics, Town of Sackville, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Hundreds of student strikers march on Sackville town hall to demand action on climate change

  1. Louis says:

    For some reason, I’m reminded of Soviet-era “spontaneous demonstrations”.
    I’m also reminded of some Christians and the “armageddon” idea.

    Repent! Do it for the children!

  2. Rima Azar says:

    *In Sackville, students carried a wide range of protest signs including one that read “Capitalism Must Go To Save Our Planet”*.

    With what do these students want to replace capitalism, I wonder?

    At the time of this strike, in my lecture in Health Psychology, we were learning about pain through a case study of Jack, a patient with chronic pain. We wondered after listening to his case study how the world would be without any pain…. Can we survive without pain? Imagine giving birth and it is like a piece of cake… Imagine no pain after a severe accident, etc.? Is this really a good thing? We learned that being unable to experience pain leads to death. This was illustrated by a famous case study (Miss C) who had a congenital insensitivity to pain. Well, Miss C ended up dying because of this at age 29. Clearly, pain has a survival value then, if you see my point. It brings to our consciousness tissue injury. We rest to heal, etc.

    We can argue that capitalism is like pain (to some in our town, it seems too like a torture). In reality, we cannot survive without some capitalism, whether we like it or not. Period. We need bread on our tables. We wish health and prosperity to each other on New Years. We are lucky to live in a country that has some socialism attached to this capitalism. Free medical care. Food banks for those in need, welfare if needed, wonderful Canadian values, etc. Most importantly, we have a caring community.

    All what I am trying to say is the following: It is noble to want to save our planet. This is to be saluted. In my opinion, as a society, we can care for each other and for our environment/planet within the parameters of capitalism. We do not need to throw the baby out with the bathtub or destroy what is left of our economy in aspiring to save our planet.

  3. Kelly Alder says:

    I see lots of complaints but really as of now there aren’t really any viable other options as how we are to transport ourselves or the mentioned $50 million dollars worth of goods that moves between the tantramar marsh tch and rail line. May be tough to move all these goods with horse and buggy? And since coal is a no no then we certainly can’t go back to having rail with steam powered engines. If there become better alternatives to a fossil fueled powered vehicle then lets see it. It certainly isn’t a battery powered car that goes a couple hundred miles then needs to be parked for several hours to simply travel a few more miles. We never hear of the impact that the production of these massive batteries in these vehicles are causing or what happens when they simply need to be replaced? I guess I’m a fossil fool as the sign says, but I won’t label the green thinkers as I was taught to not call poeple names if I don’t agree with their points of view.

    • Louis says:

      Kelly – those are my feelings exactly. For what it’s worth, I suspect that the overall impact of battery powered vehicles may be *worse* than gasoline-powered ones. A bit like using (untaxed) diesel to farm corn to turn into ethanol, to add to gasoline…

      I look at it this way: I have serious doubts about “climate science”, but I also realise that fossil fuels are a finite resource, regardless of other considerations. Other energy sources would be more than welcome. Here’s the thing, though: that requires scientists and engineers, working on – for example – nuclear fusion. If that panned out, it would make the entire discussion irrelevant. Activists and agitators, on the other hand, do nothing to solve the actual problem. All but the most extreme of them would never *personally* take the measures that their beliefs dictate: no car, no airplane rides, vastly reduced living space (to save on heating), severely reduced food choices, etc.

      In the mean-time, fossil fuels is where it’s at, like it or not. Let’s not forget that fossil fuels are what saved us from deforestation, while we’re at it.

      • Sackville Resident says:

        These comments capture everything so perfectly. There are no alternatives. And why is that? Because when it was discovered what our oil consumption was doing to the planet, a generation did nothing. And when that knowledge became more widespread and was backed up by more science, another generation did nothing. We didn’t demand alternatives when we could/should have. And now another generation is being told that it’s getting even worse and, you know, we “might” have fixed it earlier but we listened to the same apathetic cries about no alternatives instead of demanding that our government do something and invest in what were once nascent alternatives and tragically still are.

        We’d have the viable alternatives by now if we’d started then. Instead we left it up to our kids and grandchildren, who thankfully aren’t willing to pass the buck any more (and clearly can’t wait any longer, anyway.) Good for them.

  4. Kelly Alder says:

    And what are those solutions? All I see is more talk that there are ways to replace the current ways we use energy. What are they and how long will it take to implement them? I don’t know what they are and would like the Sackville Resident to shed some light on the facts for me. I do know that the income generated by electric autos certainly will not create the lost jobs at businesses such as ours. The gov’t makes a fair bit of money on a $50 dollar fill up at the pumps. I suspect once all these fossil fool burning vehicles have disappeared that there will be just as many jobs created to replace all the ones lost? I’m not sure how though considering that the tax collected on a recharge will be a small percentage of what the gov’t currently collects from fuel sales. That is just a small portion of the problem. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I know that running a business in this town is becoming more and more of a challenge, and going forward to eliminate businesses as ours, where will the new ones come from? Or do we simply return to the ways of our early settlers? To the south of us we have some extreme leftists that think this Green new Plan is the answer to all our problems. No air travel, no vehicles (fuel powered), grow all our own food, get rid of cattle, and Never have any children going forward. Seems logical to me.

    • Micheal Wrayton says:

      @Kelly Alder,

      Not important to convince you, you have obviously made up your mind. More important to educate the youth, which is working well, as you can see by the number of students who walked out.

      • Kelly Alder says:

        Proud that my two children chose their education first and stayed in school for the day. They will be able to work and pay for their future, hopefully , as they will need good jobs to pay for all the changes that these protesters want the government to adopt and likely pay for. For generations to come.

    • Louis says:

      +1 – I’d “Like” your post, but have no account to do so with.

      I agree. I think that the “Green Plan” people in general don’t really want to detail how they’d achieve their aims, because then they’d lose the support of all but the fringe. They’d definitely lose the “protest vote” which gets them quite far in the current environment.

      Of *course* I’d like to see better alternatives to oil, coal and gas. I just haven’t seen any realistic ones proposed so far.

      • Rima Azar says:

        I personally think there is a fine line between education and indoctrination sometimes for what we believe to be a noble cause.

        I was curious to see how such worldwide movements are funded or get organized. I discovered this website: . It can give us some ideas, even if it was not for this particular demonstration.

        Toolkit to teachers, songs to repeat, even guidelines to photographers… Every detail seems to be thought of. One of the photographer guidelines reads as: *Cute children with signage or tee-shirt messages*.

        No further comment.

      • Rima Azar says:

        If I may, I would like to share a piece of recent good news.

        A recent NASA-study found that our Earth is greener ( As reported in this reference, *this long-term data lets us dig deeper,” said Rama Nemani, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, and a co-author of the new work. “When the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance. Now, with the MODIS data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing.”*.

        Canada comes at the 4th place in terms of greening due to human activity (not bad!)– surprisingly after China and India.

        On a different note, Canada has also helped Lebanon in preserving its Cedar forests after civil war. Bravo and thank you.

        Why don’t we hear more about such good news in the media (a question Mr. Mario Dumont asked in an article in the Journal de Montréal)? Let’s not forget that we are lucky in NB as 85% of our province is made of forest. In other terms, we are like the lungs of the country. Having a green consciousness is a good thing for sure. Let’s just make sure that this passion for the climate is evidence-based… rather than fear-based. Let fear be a reaction to the evidence and not an irrational emotion blinding us to the full-spectrum of the evidence.

        Comment from Bruce Wark: Thanks Rima for your comment and the link you provided. I agree that we should base how we act on scientific evidence and unfortunately, there’s lots of it out there that shows things are not so rosy (or green). Here’s an example of what I mean. True this piece is written in an alarmist style typical of much journalism, but it will be interesting to read what this UN scientific report says when it’s released in May:

    • Sackville Resident says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way, Mr. Alder. It’s the saddest part of the whole thing, that grownups like ourselves can try to judge or dissuade young people from learning how the process works and defending their rights and future lives. Unfortunately, unless you weren’t cutting class so you could finish your PhD in Climate Science, there’s no reason for any of us to believe that the nearly unanimous agreement by those who did study it are wrong. But let’s even say they are. You still have oil companies projecting that we might be about 50 years from the time the oil is all gone. So our children will be dealing with your horse and buggy scenario anyway UNLESS they stand up now and demand our governments help to explore and develop those alternatives that we should have done 45 years ago. The sacrifice would have been much less back then. We can’t keep expecting our children and grandchildren to pay for our luxuries we enjoy today.

      Also, I do feel for you trying to run a gas station in this period of our lives. Sadly, it’s only likely to get worse and I hope that these kids are also fighting to find people like you a solution, too, in the same way that we need to demand we be taken care of when the ocean levels break the dykes and we all need to be relocated.

      • Kelly Alder says:

        I must now admit your absolutely correct. Thanks for enlightening me on all my misunderstanding. I’m simply not educated enough to comprehend your superior knowledge.

      • Rima Azar says:

        Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. In other terms, one must be aware that a solution to a problem can easily create a worse one…

        If I may, I would like to express my own worry here. In as much as our climate/well-being of our planet is my concern too, I am frankly much more worried about our reactions to the climate problem than the problem itself.

        I see less and less critical thinking. More and more dogmatism. Although brilliant and cute, they can be manipulated without realizing it (I have seen such phenomena in another life). Are children scientists or decision-makers now? Is the Earth our new God? Even God (in whom I believe in my heart), I do not take neither him nor myself that seriously 😊. I just love him. Period. Same for Science. It is surely our best method to answer questions, test models, and solve problems… but it is far from being able to predict everything. It must be reproducible. We must also accept that with the climate, the variables are too complex. Human behaviour in relation to these variables is also complex. Perhaps we need to be respectful of our environment (pollute less, behave well, etc.), regardless of any evidence? This is the wisdom of both science and our ancestors… to survive.

      • Kelly Alder says:

        I wish people with such viewpoints would be required to put their name to them. Not hide behind ADB, sackville resident ect… No need to worry about my business as I don’t have 50 years more to go. Was just wanting to hear what these solutions are and what is the cost to taxpayers or are there companies waiting for some reason to start these new solutions and not doing it for some reason? Seems they could profit quite well if they had an answer to rid mankind of all dependence on any form of fossil fuels. And if I was so concerned and worried about the dykes letting go I think maybe I’d relocate. I know you don’t want any future development on the end of town where our businesses are located. You’ve made the quite clear in the past!

  5. Tantramar Landowners Association is a voluntaryist run facebook page and blogger .. WE as a group of landowners do not support the university’s radical ‘divest’ and anti-oil and gas movement.. the group began in 2015 after witnessing the Gay Pride Event speech by Rev. John Perkin that declared we “were all global citizens on unceded territory” .. this is a great example of how the youth are organized against the rest of us here .. pay attention.. they’re being militarized more and more .. I have been warning for ages .. you can thank their ‘extremists’ professors who make themselves known in groups like “Divest” camp outs and ‘teach ins’ .. thanks for covering the latest shenanigans on campus with megaphones .. many students just want to be left alone to study, ready and develop themselves and they are not part of this fringe .. its called ‘community organiziing’ a la Saul Alinsky ” rules for radicals’ tactics .. Bruce knows this .. he should report on it more honestly.

  6. Rima Azar says:

    Thank you Bruce for the article you shared at the end of my earlier comment. I read it with great interest and I learned from it.

    There is also a problem of overpopulation in some parts of the world, in addition to all this.

    For instance, Lebanon’s population is very high (for a tiny country). Although the total fertility rate is 1.72 children born/woman (data from 2018), the 1.5-to-2 million Syrian refugees tend to marry very young (i.e., adolescent women) and to have a large number of children.

    Projects such as those implemented by the American University of Beirut (through the International Development Research Centre here in Canada) are helping in: (1) reducing early marriage and (2) offering family planning education/counseling (

    Once again, it turned out that I am saying: Thank you Canada. This time for supporting both vulnerable refugees and an overwhelmed host country.

Leave a Reply