How QBACCs Protest Inspired Change in Hundreds

“We are missing our lessons so we can teach you one” reads a sign from a passionate and frustrated protestor at U & U on September 27. The Queen’s Climate Change Protest, spearheaded by Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) and Divest Queen’s, brought out a crowd of over 1400 students, professors, families, canine friends and elders to oppose the current climate crisis and call on Queen’s faculty administration and Kingston’s politicians to make a change. The strike gave a voice to 11 students, 8 professors, and one MPP, each encouraging the Kingston and Queen’s community to affect change in themselves and in the world, giving the spectators a glimmer of hope in an issue that may seem nearly impossible to overcome.

Kassie Hill, co-president of Queen’s Native Student’s Association, gave an important Indigenous voice to the rally. “Since the first imposition of colonialism onto [Canada], the land has become commodified, exploited, and degraded. And now, we are all feeling this... not just my peoples, but all of us here today” Hill said. “If we do not make positive change now, our children, and our children’s children will pay for it for generations to come”. 

After speaking to Nick Lorraway, Chair of QBACC, I learned that QBACC’s main goal is to create a culture of sustainability on and off campus. QBACC attempts to build programs as a way of educating Queen’s students on how to live a life of sustainability, and take these practices into their working life. There are three main goals of their divestment campaign: to press for government action to integrate environmental concerns in all aspects of development, to pressure businesses to willingly implement environmentally efficient practices, and to pressure governments to create programs to minimize the downturn of the oil industry.

In his speech, Lorraway criticized Queen’s for not “[standing up] to corporate brands like Tim Hortons and Starbucks, who are not taking action at the same level as our campus organizations like CoGro or The Tea Room”. He reminded spectators “it is not normal for student organizations to be undercut by corporate organizations who are not doing their fair share.”Professor Steven Moore condemned Queen’s administration and reminded students “[Queen’s] is betting against your futures by supporting companies in fossil fuels”. “Where’s Patrick Deane?” the professor had the crowd chant in response to the principal’s lack of response and advocacy regarding the issue at hand. 

A common concern in this fight for climate justice is that people don’t know what they can do to lessen their impact on the environment. However, there are so many things you can do! QBACC believes the greatest priority in combating climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work on restoring carbon sinks. He believes that the greatest issue “is apathy and political will.” He acknowledges that we have the solutions, however we just need to have the will and bravery to actually implement them. QBACC encourages the traditional saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Check out the following image for a more detailed list to gain inspiration on how you can make lifestyle changes to lessen your environmental footprint.

The protest was an event full of passion, community, education, and even hope in the wake of an issue that has faced generations but has only recently become an emergency. Outside of Richardson Hall, I met a lady who had told my friends and I that she had been rallying for this cause for 30 years and was proud to see such a huge turnout from the younger population. Throughout the day, I chanted, protested, fought for an important issue and bonded with many other students, families and elders. It was a day full of hopeful change, but the change will only come about when we all start acting with our futures in mind and make lifestyle changes to accommodate those futures.

Photos by Victoria Cooke