Back to back record-setting wildfire seasons, drought and flash floods are all signs of climate change and local students held a strike for climate change action in Duncan today.

Simon Minkow was the Master of Ceremonies at the event and he said one step government can take is reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age.

“My goal is to get as many youths as possible and with those numbers, we can really move forward,” said Minkow. “If we have the support of a large amount of BC students, it’s clearly something that we want and once we have that leverage, then we can start pushing for action and it’s amazing to see that action is already happening, but with these petitions, we’ll move even further.”

Many students cited government inaction surrounding the issue of climate change as the major issue for the way things are now, but Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples indicated that her council has already passed a motion to reduce the voting age to 16.

Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau said acting on climate change has many benefits.

“It’s now time to massively reduce our carbon emissions and these two things go together (climate change). The neat thing is that if we do it well, it makes things better,” said Furstenau. “We have better communities, stronger communities, water security, food security, local economies, small businesses, better jobs, social justice, diversity, this can be the outcome of all of this.”

Furstenau added, “It’s not a sacrifice to act on climate change, it’s a sacrifice not to act.”

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg inspired a youth movement that has seen more than a million youth take part globally and Minkow said these events will continue, he even went so far as to call it a revolution.

“Upcoming [events] will keep happening as long as Greta is still the head of the movement and even if she’s not, it’s going to keep going,” said Minkow. “There’s enough momentum to keep this going globally and I think it’s going to build, it’s the new revolution.”

Furstenau said this idea is one that makes a lot of sense, adding that climate change will directly impact the younger generations and they should have a say in what decisions are made.

“It’s another case of political will, but it’s also recognizing we are going to make decisions that are mostly going to impact these people’s lives and they should have a say in that,” said Furstenau.

There are similar events in Victoria and Nanaimo on May 24.

Protesting students holding signs at a youth strike for climate action in downtown Duncan. (Kyle Christensen, mycowichanvalleynow staff)