About 10 Lacombe Composite High School students walked out of class in order to show solidarity with international climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was in Edmonton protesting alongside 1,000s of climate activists.
Amanda Allison, the Grade 12 student who organized the Lacombe climate protest, said she wanted to give Lacombe students who couldn’t go to Edmonton an opportunity to fight against climate catastrophe.
Allison said her efforts in Lacombe received more backlash than support.
“A lot of people think heavily about the oil field. They are saying I am a horrible person and I am going to get trash thrown at me,” she said.
Despite the backlash, Grade 11 student Tasha Grasmeyer — who organized the event along with Allison, said the support they have received has been amazing.
“We have quite a few people saying they are going to come out here and support us. That is definitely great,” she said.
Alllison said that if people don’t make changes now, the planet will get progressively worse and that Thunberg’s message is one she believes in.
“It is not just Canada, it is not just Alberta — it is a global thing and we all need to work together to make a change,” she said.
Allison said she sees support for climate action through all demographics, including baby boomers and millennials, but says the people of her generation see the light throughout the world.
“It is occurring and we need to be the people that make a change. We are the youngest and we will be here the longest — that is why we need to do something,” she said.
Grasmeyer and Allison said they both personally try to make an impact through individual action.
“I used to work at a pool in the summer and I would bike every day. I try to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible such as when I drive, I will drive with several people,” Allison said.
Grasmeyer added she organizes a community cleanup group that picks up garbage every Friday.
Allison admitted that oil and gas will continue to be a part of our society but that shouldn’t stop people from doing something to limit climate impact.
“We need to work together and limit. Nothing is able to be cut out like that,” she said.
Grasmeyer and Allison said they intent to organize another climate protest in the future, despite a vocal counter-protest that was on campus as well.
“You are entitled to your opinion, no matter what your opinion is. I pray and hope that people stop attacking each other over their opinion,” Allison said.
One of those individuals in the counter-protest, which had around 15 in attendance, Ethan Holtz Grade 11, said he supports oil and diesel.
“All of our vehicles run on oil, all of our products we wear on our body got here from oil. We don’t see the point in protesting against oil,” he said
Skylar Allarie Grade 12 added, “We are perfectly fine. We have beautiful trees that keep us alive. Our country is fine.”
Michael Crouse, Grade 11, said the issue is not a North American problem.
“America and Canada are not bad: It is more of the foreign countries that have the worse problem,” he said.