Communities mourn victims of climate disasters outside MLA offices across BC
VANCOUVER / UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh AND səlilwətaɬ TERRITORIES — Communities gathered at 25 different MLA offices across the province Monday evening to remember more than 600 British Columbians who died in this year’s climate disasters.
This summer’s heat wave killed at least 595 people, many were seniors. The wildfire that destroyed Lytton after record heat claimed another two lives. And recent landslides during unprecedented atmospheric river events killed four people.
“It has been a truly devastating year for British Columbians who have lost community members, and in some cases, our communities themselves, to these tragic climate disasters,” said Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney for the Wilderness Committee. “As we create space for people to grieve the tremendous loss our province has faced, our government must do everything in its power to keep people safe — including radical action to reduce carbon pollution.”
Local groups held events in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Vernon Princeton, Squamish, Nelson, Port Alberni, Courtenay, Castlegar, Qualicum Beach, Saanich, Sechelt, New Westminster, Cranbrook, Ashcroft, North Vancouver and the Cowichan Valley, where they held candles and lights to honour those lost.
“We are proud to form alliances with other groups on the coast and around the province, sharing our values and commitment. On December 13, we gather to honour the folks, mostly elderly, who lost their lives in the heat dome,” said Gail Riddell from Alliance4Democracy on the Sunshine Coast. “We also honour the forests and wildlife that succumbed to the recent forest fires and the farm animals and crops that died in November floods. Positive action is the only solution.”
In addition to mourning the lives lost to climate change this year, the vigils also urge the provincial government to take decisive action to slash emissions. Earlier this year, 345 groups signed on to a letter to Premier John Horgan illustrating what climate emergency response looks like.
“These deaths were preventable. They are the result of decades of government decisions around housing, infrastructure and resource extraction,” said Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaigns Manager at Dogwood. “We urge the B.C. government to prevent future loss of life by launching a wartime-scale effort to confront the climate emergency.”
Organizers came from all different sectors, including local businesses. Rethink2gether, a company that helps restaurants reduce food waste, hosted an event at the A-maze-ing Laughter statues in Vancouver’s West End down the street from MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert’s office.
“We hope to have different speakers and citizens from the neighbourhood to speak and share climate solutions,” said Ben Liegey, CEO and founder of Rethink2gether. “We are thrilled to be part of a province-wide action with over a dozen different hosting organizations, as it shows this has become a priority! Let's act today!”
Photos available upon request.
For more information, please contact:
Peter McCartney | Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
Alexandra Woodsworth | Campaigns Manager, Dogwood BC