March 9, 2020
Sierra Club BC welcomes our new Youth Advisor, Rebecca Wolf Gage. Rebecca is a 13-year-old youth climate strike organizer living on Lekwungen territory. She is also one of four teenagers taking the federal government to court on the grounds that the decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline directly violates the rights of young Canadians by refusing to consider the extreme climate change impacts of the pipeline on youth. Our team is excited to be working with and learning from Rebecca. We have reprinted here a speech Rebecca gave at a climate strike on May 3, 2019.
Hello. My name is Rebecca Wolf Gage. I am the founder and one of the organizers of the Victoria youth climate strike.
Lucky. Lucky is an interesting concept. If you win the lottery you are considered lucky, but can you be lucky without buying a lottery ticket? Can you be lucky even without thinking about it? You might not think you’re lucky, but sometimes you don’t know how lucky you are until your luck ends. If you win one lottery, you’re not automatically entitled to winning the next.
The same is true for almost any situation luck may place you in, such as if an ice cream truck is headed your way, or if you see a whale when you’re going out whale watching, and even if your home will be flooded next spring, or if you will be evacuated in the summer because of the fires.
Will your house burn down? You don’t know; it’s all up to luck.
Our neighbours on the mainland, even some on the Island, are dying from fires in the summer. Their homes and possessions are being destroyed in the boiling heat. In the spring, their houses are being flooded. They’re scooping water out of their houses and putting sandbags on the exterior of their property, wishing the floods would dry up, but dreading fires in the summer. Today, there are both floods and fires in Canada.
Our neighbors are dying from climate change and what does Trump say? Climate change is a hoax!? What does Trudeau say!? Let’s buy a pipeline!?
The Canadian government seems very happy with themselves; they’ve discovered that our generation will suffer from the impacts of climate change. Finally—they finally figured out what we have been telling them for so long! But instead of doing what we’re asking them to—save our future, meet Canada’s climate goals, stop the pipeline—they say okay, we’ll reimburse the parents for the harm we’re causing the youths’ future. We’ll pay the youths’ parents!
Apparently they’re missing the point. Climate change isn’t just something that’s killing polar bears. It affects us here, now. We are extremely lucky only to have smoke in the summer and a few rainstorms here and now. It’s not enough to just pay our parents! The Canadian government doesn’t really have anything they should worry about; the temperature is increasing, that’s the only thing that’s going wrong! But with the temperature increase we’ll have many more fires, storms, droughts and disasters! We won’t be lucky anymore.
I asked my dad if he thought we’d be evacuated in the summer. His answer was no. There would be nowhere to evacuate us to. This made me think: we don’t have any options if Victoria gets like the rest of the world because there’s no other safe place. We need to act now! Because we need a future.
I won’t allow my kids to ask what nature was, because my government didn’t have enough sympathy and compassion to save it.
Featured image by Ian Crawford