Youth can't vote, but they can march on Earth Day

By Tom Sandborn
The Tyee

"As youth, we know that our voices must be heard, not tomorrow, but today. If we wait until tomorrow to say no to fracking, pipelines, and massive coal and oil exports, it will be too late. This is a vital moment in history for corporations in the business of energy extraction. The upcoming election could change everything. We want to live in a world with clean, sustainable energy, with water that is always pure. The Earth is not something that can be bought or sold, so it's time we stop treating it like it's for sale."
-- Sydney Emo, Grade 11 student and organizer with Youth for Climate Justice Now.

Over 2,000 marchers are expected to close down Vancouver's Commercial Drive on Saturday, April 20 in an environmental event organized by high school students who hope to influence politicians who are running in next month's provincial election.

The members of Youth for Climate Justice Now, too young to be allowed to vote themselves are mobilizing their march to celebrate Earth Day and to challenge B.C.'s politicians to adopt more environmentally friendly policies.

Last year the students brought out over 2,000 participants for a similar event and they are hoping for an even better turn-out this year. While wanting to influence the next government, the student organizers want their event to be non-partisan so they have not invited any provincial candidates to speak at the march, a spokeswoman told The Tyee.

Sophie Yamauchi is a 16-year-old student in the Windermere High School Leadership Mini-School and an organizer with Youth for Climate Justice Now.

"I'm not old enough yet to be allowed to vote," Yamauchi told The Tyee, "but I hope everyone who is votes with an environmentally conscious mind this election. I don't want to see our coast destroyed. I care about the environment and I want to see my leaders care too."

The march, which will shut down traffic on Commercial Drive from Broadway to Grandview Park from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on April 20, is designed to educate participants about the threat of climate change and to encourage environmental activism in B.C. Following the march, Yamauchi told The Tyee, there will be a day of speakers, music and NGO tents in Grandview Park at Commercial and Charles.

Speakers will include Amanda Nahanee, cultural ambassador for the Squamish Nation, Vancouver park board commissioner Niki Sharma, a spokesperson for Youth for Climate Justice Now (Y4CJN), Eoin Madden of the Wilderness Committee, youth activists Ta'Kaiya Blaney and Sam Harrison, Ben West of Forest Ethics, and Jolan Bailey of Leadnow.

Like many youth driven events, Yamauchi noted, the Earth Day march is being organized actively on Facebook.

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