From mass mobilizations in Greece and Spain, throughout North Africa and the Middle East, to Occupy Wall Street, the struggle against the Keystone XL, Gateway, and Energy East pipelines, the Quebec Student movement and Idle No More, movements of ordinary people emerged and set the stage for much needed changes to today’s economic, social and political landscape. For many, these times have spelled a darker and tougher time, with climate change-induced disasters and spiraling economic inequality and misery. But it also re-kindled a fire, an appetite for greater justice, for a more equal and collaborative society.
Youth were at the forefront of these movements. In Canada, too, they are rising to the occasion. Since 2012 nearly 3000 youth from across Canada have gathered in Ottawa, Victoria, and Halifax to build on this momentum and strengthen the movement for climate and environmental justice.
Canada has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, eliminated energy efficiency programs and continues to subsidize and promote the fossil fuel industry, acts that threaten our air, water, land and the climate. Our present and future economic welfare is also at risk. We see daily reports promising cuts to our public services, the dismantling of our social security, the loss of workers rights, and profits continuing to rise for the wealthiest, most polluting corporations on the planet.
The economic and climate crises we are facing have the same roots — the relentless drive to put short-term economic profits over the interests of our communities and the environment. We can find joint solutions to the climate and economic crisis: by reining in corporate power and its undue influence over our political process, by reviving and strengthening our public sphere, by localizing our economies and our food system. Such long term solutions and alternatives will safeguard our communities and our environment.
Power Shift aims to build a movement that can transform our society by working together to take on the climate crisis, so that our future can be enjoyed by everyone, not only those who can afford it. Power Shift is organized by youth and aims to mobilize people from affected communities and various sectors of civil society to explore multiple ways of taking action and work to develop each other’s capacity and abilities.
Power Shift is also about learning from each other, learning together, and using that knowledge to develop common strategies for creating positive change. Power Shift aims to ensure that once the gathering is over our movement continues to grow through networks, common strategies and continued capacity building.
While PowerShift is organized by youth, we recognize that youth must become allies of frontline and affected communities and other parts of society that are active in fighting for climate justice. We also invite other parts of society to be supportive of youth efforts and to participate in creating a better future for everyone.
After PowerShift 2012, we recommitted to strengthening our movement, with a plan to hold five PowerShift gatherings across Canada by the end of 2015 to catalyze this movement. We've already held conferences in British Columbia and Nova Scotia and plan to head to Ontario in the spring.
Are you in?