Dear editor,

Ella Kokelj, second from right, is a Sir John Franklin High School student and youth board member of Ecology North who writes in this letter to the editor that she is going on strike Friday in an effort to get action on climate change. She was among several panelists last week discussing climate change action, including Craig Scott, executive director of Ecology North, David Bob, president of the Northwest Territories Federation of Labour, and Kimberly Fairman, executive director of the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research. Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo.

I’m a high school student at Sir John Franklin High School. I love being outside: adventuring, exploring, travelling. When out in the bush, I get to learn not only about the land, but also about myself: my limits, my dreams, my hopes.

I want to share that feeling with others, and show people what a special place the environment is. Because how can I not? The land has given me so much, and doesn’t ask anything in return, other than my respect; is it not my duty to ensure its survival, and give the land the opportunity to give the same to others?

I worry that no one from coming generations will feel connected enough to the land to care about its future. Programs that incorporate land-based learning and traditional knowledge are very important and teach children to care and develop a connection to the land. Learning from the Indigenous way of life about respecting the land is becoming especially crucial to the survival of our planet. Change will happen when those who are truly connected to the land speak up and act.

When taking steps to live a more eco-friendly life, many people are persuaded by the financial benefits. But isn’t it enough to have invested in your child’s future? Short term financial gain has become more important than the long term survival of our society. In 70 years, what is it going to cost us to breathe fresh air? What is it going to cost our children, our grandchildren?

Today, I will be joining Greta Thunberg and thousands of other students around the globe who are striking for climate action. Some may say that my classes are more important, but how can they be more important than the fundamental elements that support human life? I am not foresaking my education by any means. But it’s time for us to act. I simply want a future where my children have the opportunity to love the land that I, and many others, hold so dear to our hearts.

Thank you.

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