Various members of Brandon’s religious community converged on Knox United Church Friday morning to stand in solidarity with the numerous climate strikes taking place across Canada and the rest of the world.
Rev. Craig Miller of Knox United opened this local ceremony at 11 a.m. by welcoming guests, which included local representatives of the Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Pagan and Baha’i faiths.
"It is our hope, as we gather today, in unity and diversity, to highlight our commitment to care for the earth, our home, and to care for one another and to pray for those who are already being impacted by the climate crisis," he said.
From there, each invited guest took turns reading passages from their respective holy texts to provide some perspective on the ongoing discussions surrounding climate change.
Robert Brown of the Westman Dharma Group admitted that while Buddha never addressed these issues directly, he did identify human impulses such as greed, anger and ignorance as being the major source of all suffering.
"And I think that greed, anger and ignorance are three major contributors to the climate crisis that we have now," said Brown. "It’s our greed of pulling our resources out of the ground that’s poisoning our land, our air and our water; it’s our greed to consume more and more products in this consumerist culture that we’ve built."
Following the service, members of the congregation spilled out onto the church lawn at the corner of 18th Street and Victoria Avenue with signs and posters that read "Be Green, Not Greedy" and "Don’t be a Fossil Fool."
The group of several dozen people eventually marched to Brandon City Hall, where 12-year-old Brandonite Renna Kelly organized her own environmental protest a week earlier.
Friday’s contingent of climate activists were even bold enough to take the protest inside and make a couple of quiet laps around the building’s main lobby.
Miller told The Sun he was pleasantly surprised with the turnout for Friday’s service/protest, which more than 30 people attended, since he has never organized an event like this before.
"So it’s really exciting and encouraging that people came out today," he said. "I thought there might be five of us standing out on the corner."
Miller went on to say that he wanted to organized this event to compliment similar interfaith services in Winnipeg and broader climate strikes taking place across the country, like the one in Montreal that was led by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
"This has been a week of climate action across the globe, and we wanted to stand in solidarity with the youth and the young adults who are out on the streets today."
Friday’s local gathering saw its fair share of vocal youth participants as well, with Gabriella Sisson, a first-year environmental sciences student at Brandon University, saying "it’s about time" that people started mobilizing on this scale.
"People are just starting to stand up for (the environment) now and realize what’s been happening and it’s awesome."
Moving forward, Miller said Brandon residents can do their part in the ongoing fight against climate change by demanding more local alternatives to fossil fuels, such as charging stations for electric vehicles.
"We’re still oriented towards getting around with cars and trucks, but I talk to a lot of people about this within the congregation at Knox and people want alternatives," he said. "They want to make that shift."
According to the Fridays for Future website, close to 250 climate strike events took place across Canada on Friday, with cities such as Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal hosting some of the largest gatherings.
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson