A group of students sit with signs calling for local climate action.

Photo Credit: @fridaysforfuturequalicum

Qualicum Kids Are The Next Greta Thunbergs

They've been skipping a lot of class, but they're getting an education

Local students school grownups on climate action

A Qualicum student group has skipped school and parked in front of city hall every Friday for over 40 weeks. And they’re not about to miss a Friday anytime soon.

Missing Fridays might affect their grades, but it’s doing wonders for their education.

Kwalikum Senior Secondary students from Fridays for the Future have been sitting out in rain, snow, and sun to get the city’s attention. They want policy changes to deal with the climate crisis.

They’re getting a direct lesson on how to be good citizens. And they’re finally making headway.

Lyra Sales, Teegan Walshe, and Ayanna Anderson, members of Fridays for the Future, gave their first presentation at a council meeting last month. They’re calling for the city to:

  1. Declare a climate emergency,
  2. Update the Climate Action/Sustainability Plan, and 
  3. Endorse the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

“We know that often municipalities believe it is not in their jurisdiction to do something more about the climate emergency, but that simply isn’t true,” Ayanna Anderson said in the group’s presentation.

“Any sector that municipalities have power over that is associated with the combustion of fossil fuels must change.”

Town councillor Teunis Westbroek made a motion at the meeting on June 8, calling for town council to work with Fridays for the Future and host a public discussion on addressing the climate crisis. 

The students are incredibly passionate. It’s their world, too, after all. But they’re also professional.

Councillor Scott Harrison called their presentation “excellent.” “It’s one of the best presentations we’ve had in our term.”

Council members unanimously supported having Fridays for the Future as an active participant in their next public discussion. But it will take time to pass the motions the students want. No changes will take place during the public discussion.

Qualicum has not reported whether they met their previous greenhouse gas reduction targets. They aimed to reduce polluting gasses by 33% under 2007 levels by 2020. The students drew attention to this gap in their presentation.

Setting goals is one thing; meeting them is another.

Comox has recently taken measures to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, and Fridays for the Future kids want the same kind of movement for Qualicum.

“The goal of having reduction percentages is so government can be held accountable if we do not meet the targets, and so progress can be measured,” said Anderson.

“But not so we can say that we’ll deal with it all in 2030 or 2050. We must start now.”