Keely Martin
Keely Martin
September 29, 2019

Poets Encourage and Inspire Students and Community Members at Global Climate Change Strike

Photo by Mathew Gracie

Fridays for Future Fredericton and Rural Action and Voices for the Environment (RAVEN) held a rally on the UNB campus as part of the Global Climate Change Strike on Sept. 20.

In Fredericton, a crowd of students gathered on the grass in the quad to call for more action countering the climate crisis alongside members of the public across the globe. The rally also included readings from local poets and writers, led by El Jones, a Halifax poet, as they showed their support for the cause in performing some of their work in Poets’ Corner. 

El Jones, a Halifax poet, recites poetry at the Global Climate Change Strike | Photo by Mathew Gracie

Among them was Rebecca Salazar, editor of Fiddlehead and Brick Books and a UNB PhD candidate. Salazar commented on the activism that has always existed within poetry. 

Lauren R. Korn, a MA Creative Writing UNB student and 2019 Summer Institute Research Assistant to RAVEN, was also present.

“It is not just the politicians, not just the activists, not just the environmentalists, it’s going to be everyone,” said Korn.

Salazar says that poetry can be used as validation for the hopelessness and anger that people are feeling and then being able to use it as an anchor to do something.

“We’re dealing with so overwhelming of a crisis that there are no rational ways to respond,” said Salazar. 

Others in attendance included Sue Sinclair, a UNB Creative Writing Professor and Emily Skov-Neilson, a MA Lit and Creative Writing UNB Graduate.

After the poetry, representatives for RAVEN and Fridays for Future Fredericton addressed the crowd, followed by two federal candidates—Fredericton MP and Liberal Party candidate Matt DEcourcey and Green Party candidate Jenica Atwin.

DeCourcey spoke first about what the current government is doing to try to stop climate change. He also mentioned how important it was that people continue to communicate with the government about their concerns.

While speaking, he was met with chants of “No pipelines!” by members of the crowd. His explanations over how the government is working to transfer towards more renewable energy were imperceptible as the chants grew louder. 

Atwin was then met with a resounding cheer from the crowd as she presented next. She commented on the pipeline and the irony of its announcement a week after the government called a climate emergency. 

Atwin also encouraged the crowd not to let the issue of the missing and murdered Indigenous women, men, and girls become forgotten, as there are still unsolved cases in Fredericton.

Members of the public were then invited to present poems and say a few words about climate change, with students given preference. 

David Coon, leader of the Provincial NB Green Party, said a few words about the global movement happening for climate change. He mentioned the disappearance of 3 billion birds in North America since he was a teenager. 

“As we fight for justice among people, we need to extend that fight for justice to the entire living world,” said Coon. 

The Orange Square campaign was also started at this event. Students, faculty, alumni, staff and retirees from both UNB and STU were invited to sign their names on a petition urging universities to end their investment in fossil fuel. Orange squares were given to those who signed to wear and show their support for a Fossil Fuel Free UNB/STU. 

The event ended in a march led by Extinction Rebellion NB downtown to the provincial legislature.

The event ended in a march led by Extinction Rebellion NB | Photo by Mathew Gracie

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