Island residents rally at Mindemoya climate change protest

MINDEMOYA – Fifty concerned Islanders answered the Call to Action for Climate Change on Friday, September 27. 

Climate activist Sue Rumble only had two days to organize the walk. She heard a friend say that she was going to Sudbury to participate in the Fridays for Future climate event and Ms. Rumble wondered if there were any climate rallies for Manitoulin. Finding none, she started one. 

The group gathered at Waggs Wood in Mindemoya with participants ranging from very young to seniors. Ms. Rumble told The Expositor that she is hopeful now after seeing how many people attended the rally. “Think of what an impact we can make with more time to organize,” she said. “I hope this will be just the beginning of concerned citizens uniting to push for the change we must make for the future. Personally, I will make every effort to avoid single-use plastics and drive-through meals in a bag, and I will think before buying anything.”

Ms. Rumble is particularly grateful to Maja Mielonen and Guy Nielen of Mindemoya who got the word out regarding the rally and supplied snacks. She was also surprised and appreciative when one of the participants told her that everyone involved was invited to the Mindemoya Trinity United Church for a free spaghetti dinner.

Max Chapman, federal Green Party candidate for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, was at the rally and he expressed his gratitude to Sue Rumble, Maja Mielonen and Jan McQuay for “a really great turnout. It was nice that there were people who kept climate change at the forefront of the election.”

Ms. McQuay spoke with The Expositor, saying, “What Elizabeth May says is correct. This election is the last chance for us to really tackle climate change.” She spoke of a report from the Climate Risk Institute in Sudbury that said research on the risk of climate change in our area, stressing data for Gore Bay, shows that the amount of water in the summertime will be less, affecting agriculture, drinking water and so on. Scientists have warned that if the heating of the planet rises by 1.5°C then even that does not guarantee no global warming. Ontario’s climate has already increased by 1.4°C.

Phoebe Aeschlimann stands outside the Welcome Centre in Mindemoya, part of the Call to Action. photo by Andre Leblanc

Ms. McQuay encourages people to get active, to advocate. “Nothing will change unless we make our politicians change to seriously address the problem.” She also asks that people look at their mutual funds. Chances are, they are funding fossil fuels and pipelines and people do not even realize it. 

Ms. McQuay noted that a one major bank “tries to brand itself as environmentally aware, but they don’t even have a fossil-free fund to invest in.” She noted that another local bank does have  such a fund. “There are credit unions that have fossil-free funds that are GICs and GICs are safe. Mutual funds are risky.”

The Manitoulin climate change walkers had plenty of support. It is estimated that 2 million people, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and other youngsters, including water activist Autumn Peltier of Wiikwemkoong, participated in climate strikes on September 27 in 150 countries and 4,500 locations. Greta took politicians to task for not doing enough to combat the changes to the world taking place and implored people to listen to the scientists in her address to the United Nations.