On the morning of Friday September 27th, I rolled out of bed and rushed to get ready for work. I arrived at the office by 9am, sat at my desk and started scrolling through my inbox while sipping coffee. It was a typical weekday morning.. Except that it was not! Sitting in my inbox was an email reminding me that I had signed up for the Ottawa Climate Strike a couple of weeks ago and it was happening.. today around noontime! The strike is marked to be a part of a global effort to emphasize the urgency of the climate crisis and to demand action from our elected leaders. I had completely forgotten about it that day and failed to plan for it early on.
I immediately started talking myself out of joining the protest – looking at today’s long to-do list for work that I had put together last night, telling myself it is too late now to make the decision to drop everything in a few hours and go join the rally. After all, I was to go solo and what good would that do to the presumed thousands that are planning to join.. I am just one person and will not be making that big of an impact to the total number as an individual participant. I took a moment to let that thought sink in before realizing that that is far from the truth. It occurred to me that if every single person had that exact same thought crossing his/her head when contemplating whether to join the strike, they may persuade themselves against joining thinking that, as an individual, he/she won’t make a big difference. And before you know it, no one would join. I thought about how powerful that is, and how indeed one person can and will make a difference. It is the collective participation of all those individual people that will be impactful.
With that thought materializing in my head, I sat at the edge of my office chair with a newfound motivation to check items off my work to-do list before the clock hits 11:30am. Once I did, I jumped off of my seat and out the door. With no protest signs or bold props, I walked over to the meeting spot, confident that I am good enough as I am sans any visual aids. I got there and witnessed masses of people of all backgrounds gathering together in such powerful unity. The energy and determination was contagious. I quickly joined in on the chants, repeating lines like “What Do We Want? Climate Action. When Do We Want It? Now.” We began marching around the streets before eventually reaching the parliament and gathering there continuing to shake things up and demand climate leadership with our numbers and our voices. By then, the number of participants had reached roughly around twenty thousand. It was so profound to witness. It was also amazing to realize that I – as one individual person – was contributing to the masses not only in Ottawa, but around the world as well in urging climate action once and for all.