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Vancouver School District to support students taking part in climate strike

The two most populous school districts in British Columbia will support students wishing to participate in climate strike activities on Friday.
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 Lilah Williamson 15-year-old from Burnaby leads the charge as students march through downtown Vancouver Sept. 20. Vancouver School Board has said it supports students taking part in climate strike activities Friday. Photo Dan ToulgoetLilah Williamson 15-year-old from Burnaby leads the charge as students march through downtown Vancouver Sept. 20. Vancouver School Board has said it supports students taking part in climate strike activities Friday. Photo Dan Toulgoet

VANCOUVER — The two most populous school districts in British Columbia will support students wishing to participate in climate strike activities on Friday.

School trustees in Vancouver voted unanimously on Monday to allow its approximately 56,000 students with parental permission to leave classes to attend a climate strike planned for Vancouver City Hall.

Trustees also say students should not be penalized for any assignments or tests missed during strike activities.

The superintendent of the Surrey school district posted a statement last week confirming students with parental permission will be excused from classes in that district on Friday and will be allowed to make up missed work without penalty.

Roughly 74,000 students attend primary and secondary schools in Surrey.

Climate strikes are planned across Canada and around the world on Friday, recognizing a movement launched last year by Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

Vancouver trustee Allan Wong brought his motion for climate strike support to the school board, arguing trustees must support students who are passionate about halting climate change.

"The students are asking the board, the governments, all three levels of government, to stop, listen, and unite behind the science," says Wong.

"I think part of the youth movement and the youth strike protest is ... trying to address that and get everyone on the same page and just to listen to science."

Jordan Tinney, superintendent of schools in Surrey said in his statement that the board believes in the need to care for the planet and in the power of education to shape our future, but excusing students to attend the climate strike is a parental decision.

Emily Carr University of Art and Design is cancelling all classes on Friday, while the University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University leave class cancellations up to individual instructors, and the University of Victoria urges instructors to "be understanding" of student wishes.

Climate strike activities around the world have been timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit underway in New York.

Thunberg delivered an impassioned speech about the climate crisis to the United Nations on Monday.

She will be in Montreal on Friday to take part in the planned climate strike there. (News1130)

This report from the Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2019