Finding hope, inspiration for the planet
Candles for Climate rally in Wolfville aims to spur action after COP27
KIRK STARRATT ANNAPOLIS VALLEY REGISTER Kirk.email@example.com
In the wake of COP27, a Wolfville rally gave participants an opportunity to gather, express their feelings, inspire hope, and demand action on the climate crisis. The Nov. 18 Candles for Climate rally in Clock Park featured a candlelit gathering circle. About 35 participants listened to poetry readings and took part in small group discussions before picking up the candles and marching down Main Street and back for a closing circle of gratitude and hot chocolate. “The task is mighty, but so are we,” the demonstrators chanted. “This is where we are called to be.” The rally called for an end to fossil fuel exploration and oil and gas subsidies, and for a “just transition” for workers employed in associated industries. Wolfville's Caroline Beddoe said a diverse group of community residents worked together to organize the event. The recent Acadia University graduate said the idea came from others involved in the environmental movement who noticed similar candlelit vigils being organized around the COP27 conference. COP27 is the 27th United Nations climate conference, which was held in El Sheikh, Egypt, from Nov. 6 to 18. Beddoe said they couldn’t align the Wolfville event with other vigils happening around Nov. 12, but they loved the idea of bringing people together to connect, remember their collective power, and to find hope and inspiration. “I think the candle imagery really struck us because it’s one that represents both grief and mourning and our fears for all that has been lost – and that still will be lost – to the climate emergency,” Beddoe said. “It’s also such a powerful symbol of hope that I think many people can resonate with.” She said the candle imagery is evocative of acknowledging that it’s a hard time to live in this world, but people can come together with their “collective light” to call for climate action together. Beddoe said the rally stems from a general sense of disenchantment with United Nations climate conferences. She said it seems initiatives are slogging along, and that actions taken are never strong enough. “We really want our political leaders to be more courageous and believe in them to be so,” Beddoe said, pointing out they are grateful to those politicians and others who are working for high level, global change. She hoped the rally would help instill a renewed energy for all the positive things that are happening – and continue to happen – in the community regarding climate action. Sofia Muñoz of Wolfville, an Acadia University student and one of the Candles for Climate organizers, said it was great to have an opportunity to bring people together and to feel a sense of community around the issue of climate action. She said this has been really challenging over the past few years considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Muñoz said it can be frustrating to see the amount of time, energy, and resources spent on events like COP27 and to see little follow-up afterwards. “It’s encouraging to know that there are people talking about these things on an international scale, but it would be great to see more action and follow-through with the things that are discussed there,” she said. Muñoz said action on an international or global scale could only begin through grass-roots activism. Whether or not there is any kind of direct impact in terms of measurable goals coming out of the Wolfville rally, having an opportunity to meet community members and to feel the energy and camaraderie of people who are like minded is important. The rally presented an opportunity to share ideas and plans for future events that would turn into solid action. Jayden Alp, an Acadia University student and one of the rally organizers, said she doesn’t think there could be a timelier occasion to mobilize people considering that COP27 has just concluded. The Wolfville resident said she feels things should be happening a bit faster and “if we’re going to put all this energy into it, as young people we really want to see more happening because it’s our future too.” “Grassroots events like this create pressure points and leverage points for municipal, provincial, and federal governments to see that this is what the people want,” Alp said. She said they hoped the rally would help climate initiatives gain more traction, demonstrate the passion participants have for climate issues and show political leaders that they also want them to be passionate about taking action to address the climate crisis.