Hundreds gather for People’s Assembly on Climate Justice in Toronto
Activists, Organizers, Neighbourhood Participants discuss community response to the Climate Crisis.
On Saturday December 4th, the Global Climate Campaign’s International Day of Climate Action, hundreds of activists, community organizers and neighbourhood participants gathered for the second Toronto People’s Assembly on Climate Justice at Sidney Smith Hall, on the University of Toronto campus.
“The People’s Assembly on Climate Justice is a people’s alternative to the corrupt and illegitimate solutions which are being pushed through the United Nations,” says Julien Lalonde, a community organizer with Toronto Bolivia Solidarity and a core facilitator at the Assembly. “By using channels of collective dialogue and community empowerment we are working together to become a movement that understands the fundamental interconnectedness of our struggles for social, economic and environmental justice.”
Building on the horizontal process established during the Reclaim Power People’s Assembly in Copenhagen last December, the Toronto Assembly was an ambitious all day affair. Using a combination of breakouts and plenaries, participants discussed movement building, building alternative spaces, accountability to front-line communities, economic reform, offgrid energy solutions, and much more, in response to the initial framing question asking what we can do together to create a stronger movement for Climate Justice. In the afternoon seven People’s Council’s were created to begin formulating responses to topics identified by the Assembly as priority issues.
“Through a horizontal people’s process, the Assembly seeks to create a space where we can work together to share experience, knowledge, and resources in order to build a local response to a global crisis,” says Brett Rhyno of Environmental Justice Toronto, who participated in the original Reclaim Power People’s Assembly. “The challenge of the climate crisis can only be met with a coordinated response that will bring forth our power in numbers.”
As the Canadian government works to obstruct progress in Cancun by opposing a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and at home by killing the Climate Change Accountability Act, the need is clear for communities to step up and start building their own solutions. The goal of the People’s Assembly is to generate new possibilities and new hopes in order to bridge the gap from separately operating groups, communities, and individuals, to converge into one diverse, united movement.
The Toronto People’s Assembly is in solidarity with La Via Campesina’s call for 1000 Cancuns and, after successfully bringing the People’s Assembly model to Canada in advance of the G20, it collaborated with the Council of Canadians to produce a national call for People’s Assemblies which has resulted in fourteen People’s Assemblies happening across the country during the UN negotiations in Cancun.