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‘The youth have risen’: Climate rally draws dozens of students

Between 80 and 100 young people gathered at the Tom Davies Square courtyard on Sept. 15 for the latest Fridays For Future rally and climate march

To the chant of “The youth have risen” to singing a rendition of an Italian anti-fascist song with climate-specific lyrics, between 80 and 100 students gathered in the Tom Davies Square courtyard Sept. 15 for the latest Fridays For Future rally.

The event, and the local young climate activists who partook, is part of a global day of action to push for an end to financing for fossil fuels. Attendees were encouraged to sign a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. You can learn more about that here.

Fridays For Future Sudbury members want to see the City of Greater Sudbury become the first city in Northern Ontario to endorse the treaty.

Similar rallies are slated to occur the same day in dozens of cities across Canada and hundreds of cities around the world, the group said.

"We need to be wary of people who are not co-operating or listening to the experts,” the Fridays for Future members said in a news release. “We are in a climate emergency. We have had a record forest fire season in Canada. We live in the boreal forest. Forest fires terrify us. 

“Our message to everyone who believes in criticizing climate policy without offering an alternative. It is not a plan to reduce household costs, it’s a plan to accelerate forest fires in Canada."

Today’s event began with a land acknowledgement and an update on the climate lawsuit Sophia Mathur, who started the Fridays For Future movement in Sudbury, is part of. 

The Sudbury teen began lobbying politicians on environmental issues at age seven. She has successfully lobbied the City of Greater Sudbury to declare a climate emergency, urged Canadian Ministers to adopt carbon pricing, and lobbied then-Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre for border carbon adjustments. 

Sophia is the lead youth plaintiff in an Ecojustice lawsuit against the Ontario government for weakening Ontario's 2030 climate target. That case, Mathur et. al., was dismissed in April by the Ontario Superior Court.

Angered by what they felt was an Ontario government’s decision that significantly weakened the province’s 2030 climate target, the seven youth involved in the suit argued through their lawyers that “Ontario’s decision violates youth and future generations’ rights to life, security of the person, and equality protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

While it dismissed the case, environmental law firm Ecojustice, which is representing the seven youth, said the Ontario Superior Court made several positive findings, including that the judge fully endorsed the important science and facts of climate change, found that Ontario’s target is increasing the risk of harm and death to Ontarians, and acknowledged that young people and Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

“Twice the government tried to strike down the case and twice they lost,” Sophia told the assembly on Sept. 15. “But we will not give up.”

The 16-year-old said the group is appealing the dismissal, which will be litigated Jan. 15-16.

To finish her address, Sophia led the group in a chant of “The youth have risen”.

Another of the young activists who organized the Sept. 15 rally, Arjun Shukla, also addressed the crowd. He spoke about the decades of greenhouse gas misinformation oil companies like Exxon spread starting in the late 1970s to confuse the issue of climate change in the minds of the public after the company’s own scientists showed the burning of fossil fuels was impacting the atmosphere.

“It’s time to end fossil fuel financing,” Arjun said.

The final activist who spoke, Jane Walker, spoke of the local effort to repair Greater Sudbury’s environment following decades of industrial damage from mining.

“Today, we see healing land and waterways,” which is a testament to hope and what people can achieve when they work together, Jane said. 

She said Fridays For Future climate strikers will still be at the intersection of Brady and Paris streets every Friday to push for action on the climate.

In a new release prior to the event, the group reiterated its call for an end to financing for fossil fuels.

“Key players in the fossil fuel industry knew long ago that burning coal, oil, and methane (natural) gas to warm our homes, power our cars, and generate electricity was warming the planet. Instead of acting on the knowledge, fossil fuel companies financed a massive campaign of misinformation and disinformation from the late 1990s to the present and have made it almost impossible for governments and businesses to act effectively on the climate crisis.”

Ultimately, the activists said it is time to end financing for fossil fuels and to stop using taxpayer dollars to support an industry they see as harmful to people and the planet.

“Federal and provincial politicians need to co-operate and strengthen all the policies that have been enacted including fossil fuel pollution pricing, clean fuel standards, and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. Canada also needs more evidence-based laws that will end fossil fuel finance such as climate risk disclosure rules for the banks.”

Before departing on a march from Tom Davies Square to Main Beach in Bell Park, the group led the assembly in singing “Sing for the Climate,” a protest song sung to the tune of the Italian anti-fascist anthem “Bella Ciao”.

Several local politicians were unable to attend the event, but Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré and Sudbury MPP Jamie West were on hand and participated in a photo op with the young activists.

Mark Gentili is the editor at


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Mark Gentili

About the Author: Mark Gentili

Mark Gentili is the editor of
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