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South Grey residents march for climate action

kids holding signs at climate action protest

BY JOHN BUTLER FOR SOUTHGREY.CA — They marched, banged drums and captured the attention of candidates and the public.

Several people from south Grey attended the Canada on Fire climate action march in Owen Sound on the late afternoon of September 8. The hour-long non-partisan march stopped at the campaign offices of the NDP and Liberal Federal election candidates and presented them with seven questions about climate change policies. The Conservative candidate was out of town but agreed to answer the questions too, and the Green Party candidate, who doesn’t have a campaign office in Owen Sound, met with march representatives at the beginning of the event.

The march was one of more than 60 similar marches organized for that day across Canada by, a climate advocacy group, to motivate parties, candidates and voters to recognize the urgency of combatting human-induce climate change. The Owen Sound march attracted over 150 participants of all ages and from all parts of Grey County. Marchers were supplied with signs that read “Climate Emergency – Act Like It” but some marchers brought signs with their own messages on them (see photo).

The march delivered six demands to would-be elected officials and the federal government:

  1. exceed Canada’s Paris Climate Agreement emissions targets
  2. make a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy
  3. halt fossil fuel subsidization
  4. increase protection for our carbon-capturing forests, oceans, freshwater systems and wetlands
  5. strengthen our sustainable agricultural practices, and
  6. publish, report on and meet annual accountability targets for all of the above.

Joyce Hall, Chair of the Grey Highlands Climate Action Group, was one of the marchers from south Grey. Hall pointed out that Covid restrictions (masks and distancing) were observed during the march, and as an alternative to the verbal sloganeering that marks most marches, the Owen Sound group came armed with pandemic-friendly noise-makers – drums, clackers, rattles and hand-clapping – to mark their passage and their message.

Hall pointed out the march was part of an ongoing process of climate action mobilization across Grey County. The responses of candidates will be made public before the election, and an alliance of local climate groups from communities across the county will continue to meet to broaden and intensify climate action. Among other actions, this alliance and its members are analyzing the County’s draft climate change action plan, and are assisting Linda Swanston, the County’s recently appointed Manager of Climate Change Initiatives, to develop questions to be posed to the public as part of the County’s climate action plan public engagement process.

“Climate action will continue here and elsewhere, and will intensify, because the climate emergency continues,” said Hall. She pointed out that the rallying cry of the march – Canada on Fire – reflected the county’s recent devastating experiences with wildfires made worse by weather disruptions rooted in climate change.

Hall said the Grey Highlands Climate Action Group she chairs has been involved for more than two years in working collaboratively with municipal government, citizens, businesses, other civic groups, and climate action groups in other communities in Grey, Bruce and Simcoe counties. She said her group welcomes new members from anywhere in south Grey, whether they have a little or a lot of time to spend working with others on climate action. Anyone interested in joining can contact her via


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