In this Transforming Edmonton blog post, we continue the story of the climate change white paper. Students from Queen Elizabeth High School in Edmonton are among hundreds of students worldwide working on a white paper to be presented at the upcoming CitiesIPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in Edmonton. Transforming Edmonton hung out with Queen E students in January as they joined colleagues around the world via video link. The students introduced themselves and talked about climate change issues where they live. We introduce you here, in their own words, to Grade 12 students Andrew Hui and Sahaj Kinchuk.
Transforming Edmonton: What was the highlight of the morning spent linked up with high school students from around the world?
Andrew Hui: The biggest highlight for me was definitely that I was given the chance by my teachers to represent my school in front of all these other schools that are participating around the world. It felt really great, actually, but, at first I was nervous. This is my first time actually presenting like this. It was a thrill.
TE: What message did you want to get out to the rest of the world about where you live, or about climate change?
AH: What I told the world is that Edmonton is really known as an industrial city, since we live near the oil sands, which is relied on for Canada’s economy. What I wanted to let them know is that we are not just about oil sands. We are transitioning to other energy sources, such as solar and wind, which will help our province lower our effect on climate change.
TE: It’s a busy time of year. Exams.
AH: Had two last week!
“We’re like the foundation for what’s going on.”
TE: Okay, you got up early this morning. You came here for this video conference with other students around the world. Why is it worth it for you to get involved in this initiative?
AH: It’s worth it for me because I get to learn a lot. Things I don’t learn in classrooms. This is a lot of hands-on learning and you get to express your opinion, as well.
TE: It’s going to be pretty cool seeing students from around the world come to Edmonton. What do you hope they learn about our city?
AH: I hope they learn Edmonton’s a really fun place to be at. We have a lot of good attractions, like West Edmonton Mall. But we also have cool stuff in the river valley, such as the new funicular that I actually went on. It was a really fun ride!
TE: Why do you think cities matter when it comes to climate change?
AH: We’re like the foundation for what’s going on. You have the cities, the provincial level, then the federal level. So, it has to start all the way down with the cities. You start down and then you go big.
TE: Thank you for your time.
AH: Thank you.
Transforming Edmonton: What are your plans after high school?
Sahaj Kinchuk: I hope to pursue a degree in environmental science, and a career related to it.
TE: What was this morning like for you? You got to talk to and listen to people around the world. What was that like?
SK: It was so interesting. It was amazing to see what other students are up to, especially on the other side of the world. It is absolutely eye-opening.
TE: What made an impression on you?
SK: The highlight for me was seeing the dedication other students have. It motivates me to try harder and to look deeper in my own community.
TE: It’s a busy year for students. Why does it make sense to you to get involved in the real work of helping to write a white paper for the CitiesIPCC conference?
SK: I don’t see another option if we want to make change. Youth are a major stakeholder in environmental change. It’s going to affect us a lot in the next few decades. If we don’t become trendsetters in getting involved, then I don’t think anything is going to happen.
TE: A lot of the event today was about technology. You were linked up by video and audio with people around the world. Everyone was on Twitter. What role is technology playing in this effort?
SK: The work that we are doing is because of collaboration online. It’s a necessity, really.
TE: What do you hope the white paper accomplishes?
SK: We hope it makes our points clear and accessible to those in power. And brings awareness about the issue to citizens.
TE: Thank you so much.
SK: Thank you.
“If we don’t become trendsetters in getting involved, then I don’t think anything is going to happen.”
You can see the students do presentations about climate change at the Change for Climate: Festival of Youth Voices event at NAIT on February 27.
Join the climate change talks on the EPCOR Stage in the Shaw Conference Centre, March 5-7, 2018, and see the students on the stage on Monday, March 5.
The Festival of Youth Voices and EPCOR Stage are part of the Change for Climate Community Series. All events are free and open to the public.
Learn more about what citizens can do to reduce their effect on the environment by visiting ChangeforClimate.ca