Dawson College mobilises students and staff for climate change action
MONTREAL (Sept. 24, 2019) – Dawson College students, teachers and staff will meet at the College, eat breakfast and attend environmental workshops before joining activist Greta Thunberg at the Sept. 27 Global Climate Strike march in Montreal, expected to be one of the biggest on the planet.
“We will be the fearless ones here at Dawson,” said Laura Krochenski of the Dawson Green Earth Club, a student club affiliated with the Dawson Student Union. “We are starting our own movement by taking to the streets because that’s how changes have been made throughout history. We are listening to the science. It’s an alarm, and too many people are pressing the snooze button. But not us. We are students who care about our school, our community, our city, our country, and our planet. We are rising for it all, and we want our voices to be heard.”
Krochenski delivered remarks at a press conference where students, faculty, staff and the administration of Dawson College showed their solidarity on climate change action. That same morning, there was a tobacco burning ceremony as a five-metre eastern white pine was planted near the Peace Garden as a symbol of peace and a gesture of reconciliation. The white pine has special significance for Indigenous peoples, and planting a tree is a way to counteract climate change.
Dawson College was one of the first academic institutions in Canada to cancel classes in support of the global movement. True to its core value of well-being for all, the Board of Governors of Dawson College made the decision at their June 5 meeting.
“This is the first time in our college’s 50-year history that we have changed the academic calendar to encourage our community to participate in a protest,” said Richard Filion, Director General of Dawson College. “It is time to act. The signs and impacts of global warming are speeding up. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the five-year period of 2014-2019, is the hottest on record.”
Speaking on behalf of the Dawson Teachers’ Union, the Dawson Support Staff Union and the Association of Dawson Professionals, Émilie Richer delivered a joint statement from the employees.
“If we hope to effect real change, we cannot act alone,” Richer said. “We have a small window of opportunity in which to mitigate the damage we are causing to our planet. Nothing short of the full backing of our elected officials – at every level – will be sufficient to address the immense challenges we face.”
Over the last year, the College has pledged to be Carbon Neutral Forever, has been recognized as a leader for academic institutions in Quebec by Cégep Vert, and has already met and exceeded Canada’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal.
“We are actively sharing our model of how to be a Living Campus with other schools and communities across Canada and internationally,” said Filion. “Sustainability at Dawson means everything from managing our waste to living and learning the value of well-being for all in our classrooms and on our Living Campus.”
On Friday, students will leave Dawson around 10:30 a.m. to join Concordia and McGill students and walk together to the departure point of the march at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Mount Royal Park. Staff will leave for the march after the morning program ends around 11 a.m.
Dawson College is a top-choice cegep that offers classes in English at its downtown campus located on a heritage site. Over 8,000 day students are enrolled in five pre-university and 21 technical programs. Students are mostly aged 16 to 20.
Dawson College showed its solidarity for climate change action on Sept. 24. Pictured from left to right, front row: Director General Richard Filion, Émilie Richer (DTU), Ella Noël (Green Earth Club), Louisa Hadley (DTU), Aya Chkirate (DSU), Azra Khan (ADP), Deputy Mayor of Montreal Sterling Downey, Kanien’kehá:ka Storyteller and Sub-Chief Aronhiaies Herne. Back row: John Cuffaro (DSSU), Meghan O’Grady (DSSU), John Nathaniel Gertler (Green Earth Club), Laura Krochenski (Green Earth Club), Claire Elliott (ADP).
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