Power Shift represents a series of annual youth summits on an international level.The first Power Shift was held in 2007 in Washington, D.C., where over 20,000 young Americans gathered together outside their nation’s capital to promote environmentalism and lobby for government action to combat global climate change.
Since then, the movement has spread across the world, with annual public rallies and educational seminars being held in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ottawa. The first Canadian Power Shift gathering was held on Parliament Hill in October of 2009, when over 1,000 young adults from across the country came together for two days of strategy training and a day of mass lobbying, caling the Harper government to be take responsibility for helping solve the climate crisis. It was the largest youth gathering for the environment in Canadian history.
Power Shift is returning to Ottawa again this year. On October 26th to the 29th, hundreds of Canadian youth will be coming to Ottawa to continue to promote the cause. This year, Power Shift Canada has extended its focus to include promoting environmental justice and the creation of a sustainable future — environmentally and economically.
Power Shift supporters are expressing concerns about the current economic crisis and its relation to the future of today’s youth. Issues such as the dismantling of social security and the continued distribution of tax breaks for large corporations have been listed as real threats to the sustainability of Canada’s economic future. Advocates of this year’s gathering are also citing Canada’s abandonment of Kyoto Protocol, the elimination of multiple energy efficient programs, and the subsidization of the fossil fuel industry as warning signs of a continued environmental crisis.
According to Power Shift’s Canadian promoters, the current economic and environmental crises have the same roots. This year’s rally will be targeting the actions of both government and big business for putting short-term economic profits over long-term concerns for the environment and refusing to promote a more green and sustainable future. Many of the youth at Power Shift will be promoting clean energy economy, increasing global equity, and creating green jobs which they believe will help stimulate the economy and overcome the biggest challenge of the 21st century.
The gathering is not just open to youth, though. Adults and special-interest groups concerned about environmental justice are welcome to give their support to the cause.
The event will include workshop sessions on skill development in media and communication, activism, campaigning, and education. There will also be panel discussions on fossil-fuel dependency, renewable energy, public transportation, the importance of local-grown food, and the role of front-line and indigenous communities. Power Shift 2012 will end with Action and Advocacy Day on the 29th, in which all the participants will use the skills and knowledge they’ve learned over the weekend to contribute to a mass action event in the centre of Ottawa.
For more information about the event and how to get involved, visit wearepowershift.ca.