Rose Jackson has always tried to teach people how to be more sustainable. But, as the world’s environment worsened, teaching no longer seemed to be enough.
Now, she’s an organizer for the Friday’s for Future’s weekly protests in Canada’s oil and gas capital, trying to get Calgarians to pay attention to the climate crisis through activism.
From a young age, Jackson always had a love for nature and an understanding of how important it was to protect the planet she lived on.
“I've always really liked the planet and I've always recognized logistically why we need it. My dad used to say that I was a little environmentalist,” She says.
It was in high school that Jackson began volunteering to help the environment.
That eventually led her to Students on Sustainability, a university student society that focuses on teaching grade school students about topics such as renewable energy, sustainable resources, and climate. Jackson got involved with this sustainability group in 2019, during her first year of university.
“I was teaching kids about solar panels and growing their own gardens and things like that, which was really awesome,” she says. “I went to a couple of conferences on education to learn how I can teach kids better.”
Despite Jackson’s love for teaching, she felt she needed to be doing more as the world’s environment began to collapse.
In March of 2019, students from around the world participated in Friday’s for Future’s global strike for climate change. This movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist from Sweden.
When Jackson learned of the strike, she knew she had to take part.
“What inspired me was seeing that people were taking to the streets and taking action. I just dropped everything that day and ran down to City Hall as fast as I could,” she says. “And I committed to weekly striking ever since.”
Cole McCracken, Jackson’s partner and a video editor for the Friday’s for Future protests in Calgary, says that Jackson was initially excited to be teaching, but eventually felt that not enough was being done on the climate crisis by leaders in her community.
“She started to grow impatient with the lack of direct action going on in the world, especially with some of the political changes going on in Alberta,” he says. “So, she started to try and take a more direct approach by protesting and having conversations with people who would approach her during those protests.”
The crowd of Calgarians forming around city hall to protest climate change during the Friday’s for Future’s weekly strikes. Photo taken by Allan Pugh
For her own part, Jackson says her decision to get involved with the protests came from her need to share her opinions and concerns with the wider public. When she finally joined the weekly protests, it just felt natural to her.
“I’ve always been a political person,” she says. “I've always wanted to debate with people and have conversations.”
Now, Jackson is one of the main coordinators and volunteers for the Friday’s for Future movement in Calgary, the oil and gas capital of Canada.
Chase Cardinal, another coordinator for the Friday’s for Future protests here in Calgary, says that Jackson’s great leadership has been exactly what the group needed.
“Over the course of the past year, she just really stepped up to be kind of our main person,” he says. “She’s taken on a lot of the burden and really just became this amazing coordinator and organizer who just has connections to everyone.”
On top of this, Cardinal says Friday’s for Future doesn't receive the same volume of people coming out to the protests in Calgary as they do elsewhere in Canada.
But, despite those difficulties, Jackson says she’s proud to be an activist in Alberta, noting the province is one of the places the world needs activism the most.
Jackson says one of the demands of the Friday’s for Future group is to “sit down and meet with Nenshi or some more counsellors soon to be able to discuss things like the Green New Deal.”
Jackson also hopes that the Friday’s for Future protests will give Calgarians a platform to talk about and understand climate change without feeling grief.
“Taking action is not only a very political thing, but it's also a form of self-care too,” she says.
McCracken says that Calgarians need to prioritize the climate crisis sooner rather than later, while real change can still happen.
“I think that we need to make major strides going forward, both for economic reasons and the very clear threat to humanity,” he says. “People need to start prioritizing the well-being of our planet before the well-being of a couple of CEOs.”
As the weekly protests continue, Jackson hopes that Calgarians can start to understand why Friday’s for Future movement matters, and what it means to protest in a worsening environment.
“This is a very selfish movement. It's about maintaining the human population on earth because the earth doesn't need us. We need the earth,” she says. “So, we do need to have that sort of understanding about what our place is on this planet.”
- By Gabrielle Pyska