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LU students join Sophia Mathur in skipping class to help the planet

#FridaysForFuture at LU an educational day for young students
Students from Laurentian University joined 11-year-old Sophia Mathur's #FridaysForFuture climate strike on March 1 on the grounds of the post secondary institute. (Matt Durnan/

Students from Laurentian University joined 11-year-old Sophia Mathur's #FridaysForFuture climate strike on March 1 on the grounds of the post secondary institute.

Mathur has been striking once a month on Fridays since Nov. 2, 2018 in solidarity with Greta Thunberg in Sweden. Laurentian students have been doing the same since December, but the March 1 strike was the first time that the University was used as a resource to help spread the young activist's message.

As of March 1, there are 22 Canadian cities that have youth strikers including, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary.

In addition to holding an informational picket at the entrance to university propert at the corner of Ramsey Lake Road and University Road, young strikers had a full day of activities as they prepare for a Canada-wide school strike scheduled for May 3.

Young students got a chance to tour the Living With Lakes Centre, rehearse activities and speeches for the May 3 strike, and get an inside look at what students at Laurentian get up to.

"It really gives me hope to have the university students here with us today," said Mathur. "I feel really supported and I've already learned a lot more facts about climate change and the environment from them."

Adam Kirkwood, a first-year biology student at Laurentian, facilitated Friday's event and was impressed by the efforts of Sophia and her fellow youth strikers.

"I like that this is a collaborative effort and it's including all ages," said Kirkwood. "It's been amazing having the opportunity to educate the youth here today and I'm incredibly impressed with what they already know. I asked them if they knew what greenhouse gas was and a nine-year-old student gave me a perfect, scientific explanation. If you'd asked me what greenhouse gas was when I was that age I would've shrugged and asked if I could go outside and play."

Kirkwood led a few scientific demonstrations for the kids, including showing how ocean acidification occurs.

"We took them on a tour of the labs in the school," said Kirkwood. "Overall, I think it was a really educational day for them and it makes me hopeful for the future."

Laurentian economics professor and former Green Party candidate David Robinson stopped by the informational picket to chat with some of those in attendance. Robinson shared some of Kirkwood's optimism, but was also critical of past generations when it comes to the issue of climate change.

"These kids' parents and grandparents have let them down, we could be looking at a disaster here, so I'm glad that these kids are taking it upon themselves to do something," said Robinson. "The information on this is all over the place and these kids are taking it all in. The older generations took that information in much more slowly and now it's this generation that is faced with this problem."

More information on #FridaysForFuture strikes can be found on the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury website.


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