An insider’s take on youth organizing for Climate Strike Canada


By Payton Mitchell

Climate Strike Canada plans to make history on September 27. It is the date they have set for what they hope will be “the largest national strike in Canadian history.”

The Climate Strike Canada goal is to have a unified youth voice to demand a livable future. They are a collective of climate strike and Fridays for Future groups across the country, working with a coalition of unions, community groups, activists and NGOs to build a Green New Deal for Canada made by the people.

In September, the collective is leading a week of climate action culminating in a massive General Strike for Climate Justice on September 27th. Workers and students across Canada will strike or walk out of school or work to demand immediate climate action in line with science.

Part 1: What’s the “Green Circle”?

If you’ve met a student climate activist in Canada, you’ve probably noticed they’re always wearing green felt circles, what started as a way to show support for environmental policy in the 2018 Quebec election has spread across Canada and now works as a symbol of support for climate strikes.

Wearing a pinned green felt circle to your shirt was taken over by the high school student movement “Pour le Futur”, which marched every Friday, to demand climate action in the winter of 2019. Soon after, university supporters from the collective La planète s’invite à l’Université (LPSU), began to wear the circle as they started to mobilize for their university strike on March 15, the date set by Greta Thunberg for an international school strike for climate.

University students quickly began to compare the green circle of the climate movement to the red square, a unifying symbol for those in opposition to a proposed 75% tuition hike which sparked the 2012 student strikes.

In March, university and cegep (community college) students across Quebec began wearing the green circle to show their classmates that they planned to join the international climate strike on March 15 and their support for LPSU’s  provincial demands. Professors and administration wore the circles to show their solidarity with the student strike and support for climate action.  

When students across Canada began to connect through social media after the international protest on March 15 and the national protest on May 3, the green circle slowly grew to be a symbol of pan-canadian unity in the face of government negligence in the climate crisis.

A funny story and why symbols are important

On May 3, at Justin Trudeau’s Youth Summit, London Ontario student, Emma Lim recognized the green circle as Quebec’s climate striker symbol and connected with Montreal Quebec student, Jasmin Cartier where they worked together with other summit attendees to plan a die-in and deliver a speech to Trudeau on behalf of Canadian youth on his government’s failure to act on climate. Emma says she had 100 of the conference attendees to die-in, many of who she connected with because she saw they were wearing the circle, community symbols are powerful.  

Slowly more and more activists connected and the idea of wearing a green circle was passed on and embraced by climate strikers as we’ve built an online community of student environmentalists across the country.  

The green circle is important to us because it’s really the only way we have to show that despite barriers like distance and language, students in Canada have connected in an effort to present a united voice demanding strong climate leadership on the climate crisis from the federal government in this election.

Despite how powerful student movements can be, they take time, and that’s something we don’t have a lot of. We need everyone to join us at our strikes, but specifically, we need everyone to join us on September 27.

Wearing the green circle and showing your support for the movement will motivate the people around you to take action. So grab some felt, pin on a green circle and don’t show up to work on September 27.

Post a photo of you wearing a green circle with #greencircle // #cerclevert and tag @climatestrikecanada and they’ll repost it!

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