Climate Strike Hits Home Run

By John Swartz

Friday afternoon’s Orillia Climate Strike shocked event organizers with the hundreds who turned out for the noon hour demonstration.

“Today I expected about 100 people. I think there were about 60 at last Friday’s event and I knew that this one would be a little bit bigger, but I was not expecting this humongous crowd,” said Grace Long.

Long, a 17-year-old Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School student, organized the event. There have been other demonstrations at City Hall since the spring, most with only a few dozen participants.

At noon, there were close to 100 people assembled with placards waving. Fifteen minutes later as the crowd started to march to the Opera House and back the crowd had increased to what some estimated at more than 400 people.

As for as one can see, and around the corner.

The sidewalks were completely full as the head of the line paused at Mississaga and West Streets. People were still crossing the intersection at Mississaga and Andrew streets where Orillia OPP decided it was best to block the intersection to oncoming cars.

As the parade moved on to circle around the block and head back to City Hall, the head end was out of sight at Coldwater Road, while people were bringing up the rear at the plaza between the Orillia Public Library and the Opera House. Many motorists honked horns in support as they passed by.

Daniel Tucker

Daniel Tucker, a third year politics and psychology student at Lakehead University, helped to organize the event. He has been keeping a weekly Friday vigil at City Hall to demonstrate for what many young people perceive is a lack of action by government to deal with climate change.

“I think that this is an absolutely beautiful turnout going on today,: he said shortly after noon, before the size of the crowd more than doubled.

Mayor Steve Clarke gave an inspiring speech, as did Tucker who spoke from prepared notes and then returned to tell the crowd how he really felt. Included with this story is a photo gallery of the event and audio of the speeches given by Long, Tucker and Mayor Steve Clarke. Long said there is more to come.

“There is one Every Friday, but the next big global one is November 29. It’s Black Friday,” Long said.

Organizer Grace Long flanked by Ellen Field and Mayor Steve Clarke

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(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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