Close to 3,000 people marched down east Vancouver’s Commercial Drive on April 22 this year, in a march organized by local high school students to celebrate Earth Day and call for more activism to save the planet. (

“We are the ones who will inherit the earth,” Windermere senior Cassandra Ly told the Columbia Journal on April 25. “We want people to know that youth care. We are ready to step up to the plate and work for change. I know in my heart we can do it. When we saw how big the parade was, we just couldn’t stop smiling.”
Together with her fellow student coordinators of the group Youth 4 Climate Justice Now ( Emily Chan, Brendan Chan and Henry Tan, Ly has been working hard for five months now to organize the Earth Day event, which the group’s  mentor Ben West of the Wilderness Committee said  “might well have been the biggest Earth Day event in Canada.” Earth Day was celebrated around the world this year again,
with one activist website claiming it knew of a hundred million  “green acts” committed that day.

Earth Day paradeThe boisterous Vancouver parade, which focused on the climate destroying impacts of tar sands exploitation in Canada and on reclaiming the peace sign as an emblem of environmental justice and peace with the planet, had an observably different demographic than most current environmental actions and avoided the temptations of corporate sponsorship and meaningless gestures, West said.

“Usually, the majority of people who turn out for events like this are middle class white college age demonstrators,” West said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing that those folks are concerned. Hey, I’m one of them. But what was impressive about this march, aside from how many people attended, was that most of the marchers were not the usual suspects. Most of the parade was made up of high school age students, and many of them were Asian Canadians.”

West also noted that the high school students had made a decision to avoid any corporate sponsorships or product booths at their parade, thus avoiding the dangers of their environmental message being blurred into a fuzzy opportunity for corporate image building, a danger not all Earth Day events manage to avert.

Both West and Ly told the Columbia Journal that the current mainstream media line that the environment doesn’t matter in the upcoming Federal election was misguided.

“It’s preposterous to say that the environment isn’t an issue,” said West. “Canada’s economy is fundamentally linked to the tar sands, and they represent a huge danger to the human future. Of course the environment is an issue.”

Ly agrees the environment is a major issue.

“The government needs to put climate change on the agenda,” she added. “Otherwise it will come back around and bite us.”

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