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Student perspectives on recent climate change conference

Grade 10 - Windermere Secondary School students Kaitlyn Fung and Lucas Chan write about their experience attending the recent student-led sustainability conference.

During the pinnacle of the global movement for sustainability, passion sought to touch the hearts of others and instill within them a burning desire to fight for change that many have waited so long to see. Upon the day of December 10, 2010, a group of inspired youth from Windermere Secondary School launched an event that would forever leave its mark upon not only the District in which it was held, but the whole Lower Mainland, and possibly the whole world.

The event was named, "Climate Change Conference (C3): Enter the Athabasca Tar Sands";  its purpose to act as a venue for spreading information about the Alberta tar sands and not only how it affected the communities of Alberta but also its impacts upon the whole country. Not only was this event created to spread truth and awareness about this environmental catastrophe, it was also an opportunity for an assembly of youth to take part in an important component of the green revolution.

The student-led conference began with two keynote speeches from two unique authors. First there was James Hoggan, author of the critically acclaimed book Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming and also the president of his own PR firm. His speech dealt with the issue of false information about the tar sands being distributed by companies supporting the tar sands.

Following that was Andrew Nikiforuk, a prominent environmental journalist and writer for the online magazine The Tyee. He spoke with an engaging and detailed focus specifically on the tar sands.

However, the day had only just begun for the participants because the motivation to take action continued when they went on to attend three workshops that they had chosen beforehand. A diverse array of speakers presented on various topics related to the tar sands, such as its social and environmental impacts, the politics and media surrounding it, and its effects on the First Nations people.

The last part of the day was spent together in the school's gym for mass group activities such as writing letters to the prime minister, singing a song about freedom and empowerment, and interviewing two members of parliament; Fin Donnelly and Don Davies.

A highlight of the day was how sustainable and zero-waste the organizers strived to make the conference. Advertising and registration was all done online; participants brought their own utensils and containers to eat their organic and local food with; compost and recycling bins were scattered throughout the school;  signs were made from recycled newspapers.

However, the most impressive highlight of the conference was probably how much the students learned from and connected with each other. By the time the souvenir "C3" seed paper was distributed at the end of the day, people were energized and eager to take on the world. Hopefully everyone there that day was educated on something they had never known, and perhaps they even left with a smile.

"C3: Enter the Athabasca Tar Sands," would not have been possible if it weren't for the mentors of the conference's core committee, for their rays of inspiration has touched our hearts deeply, so much so that the ideas of this conference have taken root because of it.

Furthermore, this conference was allowed to become a reality with the help of Windermere Secondary's Culinary Arts program, led by Ms. Shirley Wong, who provided the wonderful lunch for the day.  Of course, this conference couldn't have happened without its marvelous speakers: James Hogan, Andrew Nikiforuk, Ben West, Matt Price, Andrea MacDonald, Suzi Bekkattla, Peggy Lam, and Neelam Khare there to serve as not only workshop leaders, but also as inspirational figures.

Last but not least, there is a shout out to all of the participants of the conference for being an enthusiastic and open minded group of inspired youth, the inspiration that was brought to the conference by the participants made it infinitely more enjoyable.

2010's Climate Change Conference was surely one that left a great footprint upon this country in the realm of sustainability. The cries for change that have arisen from the results of this event will echo throughout the province and may even reach the farthest corners of this country or even the whole globe.

This echo, powered by the passion of youth, will continue to network and spread into the hearts of many more people, until this it solidifies into a strong wall of passion and awareness that will seek to sweep across every acre of land possible. As this force continues to expand, the inspired activists of tomorrow may trace the magnitude of the movement to one of its origins, "C3: Enter the Athabasca Tar Sands."

For more info on the presenters go to http://c3vancity.wordpress.com/

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