Nelson youth climate strikers reach 53 weeks, plan public event Sept. 25

Ginger Osecki (left) and Calypso Blackman have stood on the Ward Street sidewalk outside city hall for climate action every Friday for a year. Fridays for Future is planning a public climate strike on Sept. 25 at Lakeside Park at 12:30 p.m. Photo: Bill MetcalfeGinger Osecki (left) and Calypso Blackman have stood on the Ward Street sidewalk outside city hall for climate action every Friday for a year. Fridays for Future is planning a public climate strike on Sept. 25 at Lakeside Park at 12:30 p.m. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Ginger Osecki (left) and Calypso Blackman have stood on the sidewalk outside city hall for climate action every Friday for a year. “The amount of support our actions over the past year have received shows that there is widespread public support for meaningful climate action.” Photo: Bill MetcalfeGinger Osecki (left) and Calypso Blackman have stood on the sidewalk outside city hall for climate action every Friday for a year. “The amount of support our actions over the past year have received shows that there is widespread public support for meaningful climate action.” Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Fridays for Future members, from left, Oscar Hunter (16), Jamie Hunter (20), Calypso Blackman (14), Mason Voykin (14), and Ginger Osecki (14). “It is not a hobby, we are not trying to get people to say, ‘Look at these kids protesting things, so cute.’ It’s a real issue that is killing people daily, so people need to start taking bigger action than just congratulating youth.” Photo: Bill MetcalfeFridays for Future members, from left, Oscar Hunter (16), Jamie Hunter (20), Calypso Blackman (14), Mason Voykin (14), and Ginger Osecki (14). “It is not a hobby, we are not trying to get people to say, ‘Look at these kids protesting things, so cute.’ It’s a real issue that is killing people daily, so people need to start taking bigger action than just congratulating youth.” Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Two 14-year-old Nelson students have just put in their 53rd consecutive week of striking for the climate, standing on the sidewalk on Ward Street in front of city hall, rain or shine, getting praised, insulted, or ignored by the public.

Ginger Osecki and Calypso Blackman moved their strike online for a month during the spring because of the pandemic, but have been back on the street all summer.

“We live in this place that is in a bubble and people don’t really realize their actions have consequences, so we are just reminding everyone,” Osecki says.

“We want to get people educated on climate change,” says Blackman. “There is not a lot of education on climate change and people think, ‘Oh, I am not causing this, it is not my fault,’ because you don’t see it when you look around here. Most people live in good houses, get a good education, so they are just, ‘Oh, whatever.’”

They are part of Fridays for Future, a global climate strike movement that started in 2018 when 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg began a school strike for climate.

Students from more than 150 countries participated in the group’s demonstrations in 2019, including Canada and in Nelson as part of a global movement aimed at pressuring governments to act on combating climate change.

Fridays for Future asks that municipal, provincial, and federal governments declare a climate emergency, aim to transition for net-zero emissions by 2025, and create citizen’s assemblies to oversee this transition.

In collaboration with Stop Ecocide Canada, the group is also asking the federal government to support making ecocide (mass destruction of the environment) a crime at the International Criminal Court, alongside genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression, and crimes against humanity.

Discussing their extended strike, the two young women are very unassuming, as though they are simply doing a job that needs to be done. Do they ever get discouraged?

“In the winter, and when it is pouring rain,” Osecki says. “But it’s worth it.”

Each week, about five or six passersby talk to them. The comments are about 60-to-70 per cent positive.

“Most are supportive and a lot have questions, but some are negative but not really specific,” says Osecki.

“Just harsh words,”says Blackman, “and sometimes people have thrown stuff at us – like a coffee cup from a car, yelling at us.”

Among other students at school there is some support but “lots of people think it’s stupid or a waste of time, and they don’t want to put the effort in,” says Blackman.

“They don’t think we are accomplishing anything,” Osecki says.

They prefer to focus on the positive responses.

“The amount of support our actions over the past year have received shows that there is widespread public support for meaningful climate action,” Blackman says.

The strikers say they are taught nothing about climate change in school.

“There not much about what climate change is and how it is caused and nothing about how we can stop it,” says 16-year-old Oscar Hunter, a member of Nelson’s Fridays for Future group. “There is not much blame put on governments and corporations … and nothing to teach us how to change things.”

How worried or stressed are the Blackman and Osecki about the future?

“I don’t want to think, ‘Oh we are all going to die,’” says Blackman. “To think about that is too stressful, so I think of it as a goal we can reach and as something we can actually do.”

“If we don’t do this the future is going to be bad, but if we keep it up, hopefully things will change,” Osecki says. “I feel that if we don’t keep the momentum up, keep striking, no one will.”

They say they have made several presentations to Nelson city council asking it to declare a climate emergency. They say they are not clear on council’s reasons for not doing so.

“The things they say are generic and don’t mean anything,” says Blackman. “They just say, ‘Wow, you are doing great stuff.’”

Fridays for Future member Mason Voykin, 14, is very impressed by their resolve.

“It is incredible they take that much time and the effort for a year, for hours on end,” he says. “Even if most people are just rushing by them, it’s astounding.”

But Voykin is not impressed by so many adults praising them but doing nothing themselves.

“They don’t realize that it really matters. There is a big difference between saying ‘good job’ and physically showing support by being at a strike, or rallying.”

Hunter agrees.

“It is not something we really enjoy doing,” he says. “It is not a hobby, we are not trying to get people to say, ‘Look at these kids protesting things, so cute.’ It’s a real issue that is killing people daily, so people need to start taking bigger action than just congratulating youth.”

Voykin voices the worries they all feel.

“If we don’t change, it is going to be very, very bleak,” he says. “I feel at some point we will hit a point where we cannot, no matter how hard we try, go back to the way it once was.”

Hunter says the climate change issue should not be seen as generational or left-right.

“It is about not having the human race die out in a couple of generations. It’s like we are not entitled to want a future.”

Youth climate leader Greta Thunberg is often criticized for being just a kid and not a scientist.

“As a climate activist this annoys me,” Osecki says. “We have done extensive research and don’t claim to be scientists. The voices of youth are just as important.”

Asked if they are in for another year of Fridays standing on the Ward Street sidewalk with their signs, she says, “We’ll try our hardest.”

Meanwhile, the group will hold a COVID-safe event on Sept. 25, in co-ordination with a global day of action. They hope to have enough people at the park to line the Orange Bridge from end to end, two metres apart.

https://blackpress.newsengin.com/gps2/uploads/22625857/200910-KWS-FridaysFuture-ClimateStrike_1.jpeg



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Related:

Nelson climate strike packs downtown to demand action

Students skip school, join climate strikes across B.C.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

School District 20 is advising the public there has been a positive case of COVID-19 at the Trail high school. Photo: Trail Times
District confirms positive COVID case at Trail high school

The person is at home self-isolating, administration advised on Wednesday

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read