Nalan Goosen was one of the organizers of a huge student rally in Courtenay to bring awareness to the climate crisis. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Nalan Goosen was one of the organizers of a huge student rally in Courtenay to bring awareness to the climate crisis. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Local organizer thrilled with turnout for Courtenay student strike

“I do believe that they now hear us and recognize that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

The response was beyond Nalan Goosen’s most optimistic expectations.

Six weeks ago, his hastily arranged Global Climate Strike along Lerwick Avenue attracted approximately 30 fellow Mark Isfeld students.

So, when nearly 300 students showed up at Courtenay city hall Friday for “round 2,” Goosen was floored.

“It was an exceptional turnout – three times the number I thought it would be,” said the Grade 9 student activist. “There was a good mix from Isfeld and [GP] Vanier, and we also had a Cumberland school come out, and a couple of Highland [students],” he said.

VIDEO: 300 students march streets of Courtenay to bring awareness to climate crisis

The purpose of the march was to create more awareness about the climate crisis, and to send out a message of hope, that people will consider converting to renewable energy.

“We want people to take action on climate crisis,” said Goosen. “We want politicians to take action. We want people, in their everyday lives, to take action.

“I think with this march, we were able to create an empowering demonstration… and I think we really made an impact.”

The Courtenay march was one of many similar student strikes across North America, as a groundswell of teens becomes more vocal regarding the state of, and the future of the planet.

The surge can be largely attributed to Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish student who has garnered worldwide attention for her climate activism.

She is credited with having spearheaded the first student strike for the climate, in Sweden, in August of 2018. Her stance has caught the attention of students worldwide, and in turn, students everywhere are echoing her sentiments.

On March 15, students in more than 100 countries participated in a worldwide “strike.” The next worldwide day of action is scheduled for May 24.

The agenda is snowballing around the world, and Goosen said the Comox Valley is no different.

“The first march we had [March 15] was 30 people, and Vanier also had a march of about 30 people, and [Friday’s] march was tenfold that,” he said. “So if we have increased by that much since March 15, I do think we will increase even more for our next [May 24] march.”

VIDEO: Isfeld students join global student strike

Goosen feels the message is getting through to the politicians.

“I think for sure they are waking up; the question is, will they take action,” he said. “I do believe that they now hear us and recognize that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

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