Burnaby youth demand a Green, Just Recovery from COVID-19 with bright banners and chalk.
Burnaby, BC, Wednesday, July 29, 2020 – Under the beating afternoon sun on Wednesday, July 29, a group of youth equipped with chalk, zip ties and banners braved the heat to send a powerful statement to the drivers below. Their demand? That the COVID-19 pandemic be used as a turning point in the fight against climate injustice. Commuters along Hastings Street honked in support of their message: “‘Normal’ was a housing/opioid/climate/inequity crisis!” Pedestrians crossing the overpass saw the same call to action in chalk beneath their feet.
Having to wear masks and stay apart has not stopped the Sustainabiliteens, Metro Vancouver’s entirely youth-led climate movement, from fighting for a better world for future generations. As much as everyone longs for a return to “normal” after COVID-19, they are painfully aware that “normal” was as much a crisis as the pandemic. The issues that the Sustainabiliteens fight for, be it climate change itself or the inequity that it causes, have only been highlighted by COVID-19. This is a unique opportunity for true systemic change. How all levels of government plan their recovery from the pandemic to address these underlying problems (or not) could determine the future that the young activists will inherit.
Since March, the Sustainabiliteens have had to switch up their usual organising tactics. United by the urgency they feel to stop the climate catastrophe and build a more just, sustainable world, they jumped into online meetings over Zoom, determined not to let the pandemic overshadow the urgency of the climate crisis. From placing posters across the Lower Mainland to making multiple media appearances to welcoming an ever-growing membership, the Sustainabiliteens are not slowing down. Wednesday’s event was only the beginning of their campaign to Not Go Back to Normal and Build Back Better after COVID-19. Like their banner says: “We are unstoppable, a better world is possible,” – a world where clean water and air are not in question, where people are valued over profit and no one is left behind.
The youth who are inheriting the world will not stop fighting for it until the broken systems they see are rebuilt. Until then, expect to see them across Metro Vancouver, passionately sharing their vision of a better future.