The organizer of Toronto’s climate rally believes it will be “Canada’s largest climate strike ever,” with thousands of people expected to descend on Queen’s Park Friday to urge immediate action on climate change.
Thousands more are expected to take to the streets across the GTA as part of weeklong protests inspired by Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture movement.
On Friday, 85 cities across Canada are set to hold climate strikes.
“I know that for myself I am angry and I am outraged at the injustice that keeps happening,” Rougeot told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Friday.
“So I think today our message is going to be partly about the fact that you’re allowed to be outraged, you should be outraged, and it’s only that that’s going to save us.”
The event at Queen’s Park precedes a march through downtown, and speakers from a diverse array of environmental groups, migrant support agencies, Indigenous communities and social justice advocates, among others, will be speaking to the gathered crowd. Rougeot said the goal of the event is to educate attendees, as a federal election approaches, how other issues such as health care, transit and affordability are all deeply connected to climate change.
“Why are we never talking about these, not as climate change as one of the issues that you should be concerned about, but educate people on the fact that your health care and your house insurance, for example, they heavily depend on the risk of climate change,” Rougeot said.
Given the chance, she said, she would challenge federal and provincial politicians to consider how the province and country will meet emissions-reductions targets.
Meanwhile, here’s what you can expect in the GTA to mark Friday’s climate action.
Toronto’s biggest march at Queen’s Park
The city’s biggest strike is expected to take place outside Queen’s Park, beginning with an 11 a.m. rally. (Thunberg will be in Montreal, where that city estimates some 300,000 will march.)
At noon, the group is expected to march east on Wellesley Street, then south on Bay, west on Queen Street and back up University Avenue to Queen’s Park.
There will also be a pre-strike art demonstration at 10 a.m. that will see Greenpeace Canada, local groups and volunteers painting large murals along the march route. A concert will end the event, with Barenaked Ladies bassist Jim Creegan making an appearance, along with other musical acts.
Various speakers will be in attendance, including numerous Indigenous activists such as Cody Looking Horse, a young activist who was part of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock.
Schools taking part
Schools around the GTA are aware their students will be walking out, and some are even getting on board with the strike.
The Leap Chapter of the University of Toronto is planning a mass student walkout for the climate strike. They plan on meeting outside the St. George Street entrance at 10:30 a.m. to join other students at the main rally at Queen’s Park.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board are expecting students to participate and have asked their schools to avoid scheduling tests and other assessments today.
The TDSB is requiring students under the age of 18 to provide parental permission to leave class. Students who are not in attendance and have not notified their teacher will be marked absent.
Strikes also taking place across GTA
Scarborough will host its own climate strike at Albert Campbell Square, near Brimley Road and Ellesmere Road.
Scarborough’s very own young climate activist, 19-year-old Delenn Kershaw, is behind the effort there, which begins at 1 p.m.
The Mississauga Climate Action group has organized an event in Celebration Square, near Mississauga’s City Hall, at 12:30 p.m.
Major companies closing their doors
A number of companies are shutting their doors in solidarity with the climate strike.
Mountain Equipment Co-op is closing its Canadian stores until 5 p.m. local time, saying they want to provide their staff the opportunity to join the strike.
Lush Cosmetics North America will shut down all operations for the day.
And Patagonia, the outdoor clothing maker, is also stopping its operations and encouraging customers to support climate striking students.