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LETTER: Where once they stood, we stand

Participants in Friday's Climate Strike in St. John's hoist their signs at the Confederation Building.
Participants in Sept. 27's Climate Strike in St. John's hoist their signs at the Confederation Building. - Joe Gibbons

We talk a lot about the massive sacrifices made by this province in the First World War.

We make it a point to remember and honour them and their memory on a day when most of this country is celebrating.

The people of this province built a university and purchased the battlefield so many of them died on to honour them.

We make it a point to never forget the sacrifices they made.

All of the people in this province are here today because those young men and women — as young as 15 — went to stand up and defend something that mattered to them.

And do you know what mattered to them? Do you know what they left everything they knew to bleed and die for?

Look around you and beneath you, because it’s this — the land and sea that our ancestors eked out their living on, and that we are now so callously taking for granted!

They fought to keep it free, to defend it from those who might possibly seek to harm it, and what are we truly doing to ensure that it wasn’t for nothing?

We were blessed with rich natural resources, and thought only of profiting from them.

Nobody stopped to think of what would happen when it was gone. Nobody considered anything but making money, and now look at what we have.

The world’s richest fishing ground has been destroyed, because people let it be destroyed.

The sea level is rising and the oceans are warming, and we’ve known this for years.

We’ve known for years that this is happening, and we are letting it happen when we can do something to try and stop it.

I’m asking you what would those who sacrificed their very lives for this province think of us for standing by and allowing it and the world to be put at risk?

And to everyone looking down at the people who are doing something to help, what would they think of you? Were they not young people who sought to defend something that mattered to them? Were they foolish to think that they could make a difference?

I’m asking you, is the spirit behind their sacrifice and bravery any different than the spirit behind this climate march? No!

Just like them, we believe it’s up to us to defend what matters to us, and that every one of us makes a difference. And we seek not only to save this province, but the world from the ravages of unchecked corporate greed.

Would the people who served and suffered for us want us to take the future they won us for granted? How would they feel to see you judging or wringing your hands as if you can’t do anything about it? They’d call you a coward if they could, and so do I.

The population of Newfoundland and Labrador was 240,000 — less than half of what it is today. The threat was far away. Did that stop them? Did people think that Newfoundland and Labrador was too small to have any impact, that the fighting should be left for other countries? No. The call to action went out and the response was enthusiastic.

The best way for us to honour them isn’t with monuments it is by following the example they set for us, by reviving the spirit of a province that threw everything it had into fighting something that threatened not only it, but places far away.

Where once they stood, we stand.

What they defended, let us too defend, by demanding climate action to save our province and our world.

Kelsie Senior,
St. John’s


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