Protesters and community members chanted “fast, fair, forever” outside Douglas Library opposing fossil fuels last Friday.
The climate protest was held by Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis (QBACC), Seniors for Climate Action Now! (SCAN!), and 350 Kingston on Sept. 15. At its peak, more than 300 people demonstrated against the fossil fuel industry, joining 400 similar climate rallies worldwide.
“I really pushed to have this protest here on Queen’s campus because it’s so important young people get energized and excited about the change we can make, because we’re going to be the ones who are making the decisions later on,” said Siena Margorian, ConEd’24 and QBACC Co-President in an interview with The Journal.
The majority of protesters were members of SCAN! and the greater Kingston community, with most students joining intermittently between classes.
During her first year at Queen’s in 2019, Margorian recalls the QBACC divestment rally having an attendance of nearly 800 people. This year, she’s working to increase student engagement on action against the climate crisis—something Margorian believes was damaged by the pandemic.
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“I find, more than any other kinds of events, protests are where people want to get involved and get encouraged to feel like change is happening and they can make a difference,” Margorian said.
The protest on Friday was part of a worldwide movement with demonstrations occurring in New York City ahead of the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit on Sept. 20. The demonstrations collectively advocated for the end of fossil fuel production and consumption.
This year, QBACC is pitching a mandatory climate literacy course for Queen’s students across faculties. During her speech, Margorian pushed Queen’s to increase green spaces around campus while ditching fossil fuel energy sources.
David McLagan, assistant professor of geology and environmental studies, was one of many speakers to mention the wildfires plaguing Canada coast to coast this summer. For McLagan, aggressive wildfire suppression—the main fire management tool in Canada—has led to an overabundance of fuel on the landscape.
Aric McBay, Just Recovery Kingston representative, mentioned Premier Doug Ford’s recent Greenbelt development scandal, to which the crowd shouted in response with a series of “boos” and “shame.” A poster titled “Ford’s Climate Report Card” sat behind the speaker’s podium, listing some of the Premier’s major failures.
During the speeches, 71-year-old Kingston resident Nancy Bayly from SCAN! held a canvas picturing a blindfolded lady justice who plucks a white man of a scale, the figure is surrounded by bags of money dripping with oil.
“Things I took for granted aren’t there anymore and that’s a scary feeling. I really worry about my grandchildren,” Bayly said in an interview with The Journal.
Bayly remembered how insects used to be everywhere, dotting her windshield and filling the air during the summer in Kingston. Now, she barely sees them.
“Part of me goes, ‘I hope I’m not alive to see the worst part, but then I look around I go, Oh, my God, what’s going to happen to everybody else?’” Bayly said.
Halfway through the rally, a student sporting a maroon sweater shouted, “Gas cars are better,” to which the crowd of protesters responded to with laughter and eye rolls.
Ryan Kuhar, AMS commissioner of environmental sustainability, explained the continual effort in organizing and advocating for environmental change. He encouraged students to take a glass half full approach, and find support in the people around them.
“The greater student representation at events like this, the more proportional influence it will have on the AMS’s decisions,” Kuhar said.
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