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Half a million march for change

(Melody Horn The Eastern Door)


The Global Climate Strike that took place from September 20 to 27 in places all over the world, included a large number of Kanien’kehá:ka and thousands of other Indigenous people.

Last Friday, September 27, all major cities across Canada like downtown Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal were flooded with protesters and people of all ages wanting to make a change for the environment.

Schools all around Quebec cancelled classes and closed their doors to students to show support in the climate strike. Only expecting 300,000 people to attend, Montreal received nearly 500,000 marchers wanting change, making it the largest protest in Quebec’s history.

Before kicking off the climate rally, Greta Thunberg met with prime minister Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party and environmental activist David Suzuki, who joined Thunberg and half a million marchers.

She was then warmly welcomed by three chiefs, Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, and Peter Johnston, chief of First Nations in the Yukon.

Each chief had something to give Thunberg for many reasons. One main reason being that gift-giving is part of Indigenous tradition, for not only being a young advocate for change, but also being behind a big portion of the awareness worldwide for the needed change the Earth needs.

Before the start of the route, there was a call out to Indigenous people who attended the march to join Thunberg in the front lines. Many Indigenous people from many different nations all over Quebec joined her side.

The march then officially begun at noon.

Among the nearly half a million people were many Kahnawakehró:non, Kanesatakehró:non and even Akwesashró:non who travelled approximately an hour-and-a-half to join in on the climate march.

Akwesasne’s Brayden White, who attends SUNY Canton for Legal Studies, was among many marchers who missed school to attend. “I’m invested into the environment and protecting our Mother. It’s engrained into our culture that the Mother is the giver of life and without Mother Earth, we would cease to exist,” White said.

Kahnawakehró:non Keith McGregor was also one of many who attended the march last Friday. “It’s a very nice gesture and all but I’m sure after the March people didn’t dispose of the signs they made properly, along with the people who make all the money from, this will never change.” McGregor said. “We could only hope it has opened peoples eyes and for them to want to do better.”

Kahnawakehró:non Teiakotetshennoron Stacey and her father Gary Stacey also marched in the hundreds of thousands of people with a big sign saying “defend water, defend life” while waving the Iroquois Confederacy flag up high.

“I think the march helped the older generation look at the younger generation and see how much we care and that we will do whatever it takes for them to wake up and make changes,” Teiakotetshennoron said.

Teiakotetshennoron and her father have similar beliefs about the march. “I was there watching with encouragement and showing support for them to clean up their damn mess they made on stolen lands” Gary said. “I believe everyone is woke and aware now.”

After the completion of the march, it led to a stage where various Indigenous leaders from all different nations gave speeches about how important Mother Earth is, sang traditional songs, and even at one point held up a flag that said “Land Back.”

The message behind the statement “Land Back” being that the climate march was not in the best interest of many who attended. It was also an event where many Indigenous youth did not feel safe as they were unheard, pushed around intentionally in the crowd of people during the march, and even dealt with racial remarks and consistently had to fight for their space.

White was one of the ones on stage at the end of the march.

“I believe that standing up there in front of 500,000 people was surreal. We honestly were our ancestor’s wildest dreams, having half a million people listen to what we had to say,” White said. “As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words and with that being said I hope people take more action following the march.”

The march officially concluded at approximately 7 p.m. to allow time for Montreal mayor Valerie Plante to grant the key to the city to Thunberg.

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