PowerShift Alberta happened in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton) in Treaty 6 territory April 1-3, 2016.
PowerShift Alberta is a youth-led organizing initiative that will bring together 500+ people from diverse backgrounds across Alberta, the Prairies, and beyond, to learn, develop their skills and build a movement for climate and environmental justice.
2015 marked a shift in the fight against climate change and an exciting opportunity for the youth climate movement. Federally, the new majority Liberal government is showing a shift in priorities, and acknowledging climate change as a serious and immediate threat to our communities and our economy. Alberta also underwent a shift when it recently elected a majority NDP government provincially, and introduced the first ever Alberta Climate Leadership plan. These new governments are part of a changing political landscape in Canada that is vital to recognize.
Furthermore, there is intergovernmental dialogue between First Nations and the Canadian government and between provincial and federal leadership. In 2007, Canada originally voted against adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In November 2015, the newly elected Liberal government announced they will be implementing the UNDRIP, recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples as a necessary step on the path towards climate justice. The new Alberta government has also promised to implement UNDRIP in all areas.
Community support for action on climate change is growing. In Canada alone, more than 60,000 people over three separate mass mobilizations took to the streets to demand immediate, bold climate action. 250 people of all ages participated in the largest act of mass civil disobedience in the climate movement in Canada in November 2015 at Climate Welcome. 100 municipalities across Canada have now passed declarations recognizing their citizens right to live in a healthy environment. These developments have been reflected in Alberta with large marches in both Calgary and Edmonton in April and November.
Indigenous peoples and other land defenders across Quebec and Ontario, in Tsleil-Waututh Territory near Burnaby BC, in Unist'tot'en Territory, and on other frontlines, put their bodies on the line to fight infrastructure projects like Enbridge's Line 9, Kinder Morgan's TransMountain Pipeline, Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline and Chevron's Pacific Trails Pipeline, among others. Solutions began to gain ground, with solar installations in First Nations communities, movement towards renewable energy cooperatives across the prairies, and growing agitation for support for good green jobs for everyone. In this time, the climate justice movement has gained significant momentum.
Youth and frontline communities have been fighting back from the streets of urban centres, to campuses across the country where divestment campaigns are gaining ground, to the halls of the United Nations where the recent Paris Agreement was signed. We believe that youth action can inspire conversations in the broader movement and are ready for continued action. Now is the time to come together to demand a just transition to a clean energy economy, and a better future for all.
PowerShift, a program run by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, is a gathering organized by youth for youth that aims to mobilize passionate youth from affected communities and various sectors of society to explore multiple ways of taking action and work to develop each other’s capacity and abilities.
PowerShift will mobilize, educate and support a youth base of organizing in Alberta to take advantage of this political moment and push for lasting, transformative change from the grassroots. PowerShift Alberta aims to be a catalyst for education and collective action in a long-term effort to harness the power of youth and intergenerational communities to create change for a justice-based, sustainable future for all.
PowerShift Alberta comes at a unique moment of political possibility and economic uncertainty. It is time to seize that moment.