Hand in hand, twenty-five youth delegates walked through the Bella Centre, quiet as mice in the hustle and bustle. With our CYD logo on the front of our shirts, and “Canada : Lead, Follow or GO HOME” stickers on the back, we made our way to the main plenary hall and just stood, in a line, front to back to front, until security forced us to disperse. 

Pictures and press briefings ensued. More importantly though, it was delegates’ responses to our presence, our stand and our message that made this action a success. An overwhelming majority of party delegates that walked past us were smiling, giving us thumbs ups and nods, telling us that we’re doing good work, and that they really appreciate our stand and the solidarity (because let’s not kid ourselves, it really is a question of solidarity and of climate justice).

In the conversations she had, Yvonne Su, a fellow CYDer, said that passers-by made it very clear that they did expect Canada to lead and to act as a responsible and constructive member of this international community. If, as a country, we cannot lead, we should be prepared to follow, that is, we should at the very least comply with international law, and if we aren’t prepared to comply, if any country isn’t prepared to comply, they should go home. Because we’re here to work. All of us. These halls and meeting rooms are bursting at the seams with very sleep deprived and very knowledgeable people, who’ve come a long way to reach an agreement. We need to work. We need to make this work.

I myself had the pleasure of a few quick conversations with a few Canadians who were hurrying by and were happy to see us getting this message out. Our government’s stance is, for many, not only a real source of embarassment, but really of profound dissapointment. 

That being said, at the end of the (long, exhausting) day, it gives me energy and resolve to see delegates from African States, from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) smiling at us and thanking us for what we’re doing–recognizing that our minority government doesn’t speak for or represent most Canadians. Now if only the Canadian Delegation was as keen to build bridges.