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Don't You Dare Call Them Lazy! Canada Youth Delegation Stages Week-Long Sleep-In for Climate Justice on Dal Campus!

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
photo: Annie Cottrell
photo: Annie Cottrell

This sleep-in thing is catching on!

Riding the wave of success and good vibes from last month’s inaugural sleep-in for Climate Justice, the Canada Youth Delegation have been staging a week-long sleepover in the lobby of Killam Library, Dalhousie Campus, Halifax. As the Canadian government sleeps at the wheel of climate justice, so the members of CYD mimic their lethargy with their seven day snooze session.

“We have some mattresses set up with some blankets and pillows,” says Luke Branson, one of the sleepover organizers, “and we’re laying around in a bed, imitating our government because they’re not doing enough about climate change. So I figured, we’d just lay around like them.”

But make no mistake, unlike our own government; there is purpose and vision in this sleepover. The CYD has drawn up a petition, and so far has had over five hundred signatories show their solidarity. Emma Norton, another of the CYD sleepyheads, hands me a copy of the petition, which, while not available online, reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Harper, Mr. Kent, and the Federal Government of Canada,

We the undersigned believe that you are not representing the views of the majority of Canadians in regards to your climate change policies. We believe climate change is a serious issue that deserves more attention and firmer legislation. We believe the following must happen in order for Canada to do its part in mitigating climate change.

  • The practices of the Canadian government must become more transparent.
  • Ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reduction must be created and adhered to.
  • The subsidizing of the tar sands cannot be allowed to continue.
  • Green initiative programs for renewable energy and sustainable products must be encouraged and allowed to develop through subsidies and/or tax breaks.
  • Stalling of climate change negotiations by the Canadian government must be stopped.

We are confident that if the right steps are taken Canada can live up to its reputation as a global leader in social and environmental issues.

The CYD urges everyone to come down and sign their petition in person, and, Luke Branson explains that there’s always a warm spot on the bed for anyone looking to join in the movement.

“I’ve personally realized that it’s a really awesome way to protest,” says Branson, “because you just get to lay around in bed and hang out with your friends. And really awesome conversations about lots of different political issues arise. ”

Emma Norton, for her part, is very pleased with the success of the week-long sleepover, but regrets the lack of student initiative on campus. From her bed’s eye view, she’s seen the bluster of busy feet all week long, and many of those feet seem to be already trapped up in a blind race.

“It just goes to show how easy it is to raise awareness about issues you really care about.” says Norton. “There should be a lot more of this on campus. Our first day a professor came up to us and said ‘This university is terrible. It has so much power but it’s a sleeping elephant.’ We are so apathetic. The students here are not informed, and even when they are informed, they don’t take enough action for what they care about. Most revolutions and most huge social movements have started in universities. We have the power, and we should be doing something about it. If you feel strongly about something, we can do something to change it.”

As we speak, a comrade-in-arms arrives with toasted bagels, fresh cut veggies, and roasted potatoes. Sleeping in can be tiring work, but with a steady stream of outside reinforcements coming in, the CYD sleepers are well-provisioned, and well-rested. Branson, between bites of a buttered bagel, explains.

“We take shifts, so there’s a lot of different people here throughout the day. So we eat when we’re elsewhere, but some people have dropped off food. It’s just been awesome.”

When they’re not in a massive bed made for twenty, the CYD are an upwardly mobile and active bunch. And while the political climate can be tiresome, they’re not letting it wear them out.

“It’s important to tell your government what you want to be done,” says Branson, “but we should also be taking action ourselves. There are consumer choices and everyday lifestyles, and we really need to say to everyone that we really want to be around for awhile. We don’t want to exterminate life on this planet.”

Norton agrees;

“It’s very much about individual action, though we need the support of our government. Up to a point we can do everything, but support from the government would make a far more sustainable life more accessible. ”

The great CYD sleepover for climate justice runs until tomorrow, Saturday the 29thof January. Catch up with them in the lobby of Killam Library and show solidarity.   

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