Walking for Annie
Ottawa Global Climate March is a resounding 100% success.
By Patricia Dumais
The United Nations Climate Change Conference began its 12-day summit in Paris on Monday, November 30, welcoming representatives from 196 countries with the goal of creating a binding agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol in 2020.
Prior to the conference, the Global Climate March broke records as the largest climate mobilisation in history, despite losing its flagship Paris event. From São Paulo to Sydney, 785,000 individuals shook the ground in over 2,300 events in 175 countries, united in one voice: it’s time to seriously tackle climate change!
When I signed up to travel to the Ottawa event by bus via the David Suzuki Foundation, I was also offered the opportunity to walk on behalf of a Parisian who could not participate in her city. As you know, a state of emergency was declared after the November 13 terrorist attack preventing Parisians from holding any public gatherings. But March4me, an initiative of Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund among others, paired me with Annie. We exchanged greetings via email and I promised to get back to her after the march.
Shortly before noon, our bus arrived at Ottawa City Hall, the departure point for the march. The weather was overcast and cold but spirits were high among those waiting for the march to begin, some reuniting with friends and family or assembling into groups. More than 80 organizations representing a broad social spectrum were present: environmentalists, religious groups, first-nations, NGOs, students, unions and wildlife protection among others.
David Suzuki, Canada’s foremost environmental activist, was among a number of guest speakers warning about the urgency of converting to clean resources. “When Hollywood’s aliens attack Planet Earth, humans come together to defend their common home. The same thing must happen to put an end to climate change. We fight together as members of a single species,” Suzuki said over the cheers of an estimated 25,000 people. “The urgency of the struggle is like for a war.”
When Hollywood’s aliens attack Planet Earth, humans come together to defend their common home. The same thing must happen to put an end to climate change. We fight together as members of a single species… The urgency of the struggle is like for a war.
As the march began I was impressed by the orderly, enthusiastic and cheerful disposition of the large crowd. People young and old, families, friends, some disabled, all making their way down the two-kilometer route to Parliament Hill. Most wore green and many dressed in colourful costumes depicting such ecological icons as polar bears, wind turbines and solar panels. One group pulled a canoe and another a Trojan horse! At one point I thought I heard a familiar voice among the crowd. It was ‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ Shaun Majumder who had just finished recording at the event and was now walking and chatting with the crowd. All around, people brandished hand-made signs and the one that read “THERE’S NO PLANet B” was my favourite.
As we reached our destination, we were corralled together to create the shape of a giant 100% on the lawn of Parliament that was photographed from an aerial crane and transmitted on a giant screen for all of us to see, like a huge selfie. Some more speeches by various guest speakers and an aboriginal water ceremony closed the event.
Chatting with people during and after the march, many were delighted at the thought of Canada losing its infamous reputation as an environmental offender that it unfortunately acquired these last few years. They felt our country could once again be an environmental leader on the international scene, with clear and ambitious climate change targets.
I emailed Annie that evening telling her that all went well and to take a look at Avaaz’s collection of scenes of the event from around the world at avaaz.org/en/climatemarch
Ottawa Global Climate March images can be seen at 100possible.ca/#live
Patricia Dumais, artistic director, award-winning graphic designer specialized in brand design is co-founder of Visionnaires, publishers of Westmount Magazine. Patricia develops visual concepts and ensures that all deliverables follow our publication’s standards and reflect the editorial voice. You can connect with Patricia on Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest. or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.