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Letter: Fridays For Future looks different in Greater Sudbury in the time of COVID-19

Virtual gathering still happens every Friday this month
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Sophia Mathur spearheads the Greater Sudbury Fridays for Future movement. Events have been moved online, and continue every Friday in the month of May. (File)

The last time the Fridays For Future team in Greater Sudbury met in person was Friday, March 13, 2020. 

Since September 2019, we have been climate striking at the corner of Brady and Paris streets from 3-5 p.m. I miss being there. The honks and the thumbs up filled me with hope. 

The climate emergency is solvable. And we must keep talking about it even during a global pandemic. 

On Friday, March 20, I joined the #ClimateStrikeOnline Fridays For Future movement. I grabbed a whole bunch of signs, and posted my images on Twitter and Instagram

Canada was supposed to have a national Fridays For Future strike on April 3. Cambrian College student Jarod Franke was the event manager for that strike. Instead of a big rally, Jarod restructured the event and we all posted our pictures of our #ClimateStrikeOnline in Greater Sudbury and made a composite. It was better than striking alone for sure. 

Then we saw that Fridays For Future in Toronto were doing rallies on Zoom. We met on Zoom and planned Zoom Rallies for Friday, April 24 and May 1. We sent out invitations to seven parliamentarians to join us and they accepted. 

Jarod Franke agreed to be our Zoom facilitator and Adam Kirkwood, a Ph.D. student at Laurentian University, agreed to be our "Zoom scientist."

The theme of the April 24 event was COVID and Climate Crisis. The theme of the May 1 event was Canada, the Climate Crisis and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People aka UNDRIP. 

At our first rally on April 24, the MPs and MPPs spoke. The following week we had a second Zoom Rally and the senators spoke. I am so grateful to MP Paul Lefebvre, MP Marc Serré, MPP Jamie West,  MPP France Gélinas, Senator Lucie Moncion, Josée Forest-Niesing and retired Senator Grant Mitchell (Edmonton) for joining us. 

When I was eight years old, I lobbied Senator Mitchell for climate action. He listened to me and then took me on a tour of the Senate/Red Chambers. I will never forget it. He empowered me. I was so glad to see him on Zoom.

These rallies have been the education of a lifetime. The politicians really care about us and our future and they need us to keep the conversation going. I was happy to learn that they all support enshrining the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People under national law.  

We also decided to show Dr. Katharine Hayhoe's Global Weirding videos at the beginning of a Zoom Rally. 

I have met Dr. Hayhoe in person and have seen her speak a few times. She is awesome, and makes informative videos. 

I would also like to give a shout to my friends in my age group in Fridays for Future Sudbury: Derek Grubber, Maggie Fu, Salma Mohammad, Arjun Shukla, Amber Kabaroff Scott, Arik  Kabaroff Scott, Jane Walker, and all the invaluable adults who have continued to be part of our Fridays For Future in the time of COVID. 

Critical to our work is that our local media is connecting us all. So thank you to the Sudbury Star, Sudbury.com, CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and many more for covering our work. We would like to encourage all Fridays For Future groups to keep building community during the climate crisis. 

What comes next for us?

We are going to meet on Zoom every Friday in May to plan our next event on Friday, June 5, 2020. Everyone is welcome to help us plan it. You can contact us through our Greater Sudbury Facebook or Instagram pages. If you are not on social media, you can sign up at Coalition for Liveable Sudbury to get connected to us: https://www.liveablesudbury.org/fridays_for_a_future

Sophia Mathur, Sudbury




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