Teen climate activist fighting for Mother Earth
- NC Raine | April 10, 2020
Saj Starcevich is Saskatchewan’s Greta Thunberg.
Seventeen-year-old Swede Thunberg has become synonymous with climate activism since she began leading thousands of students in 2018 to walk out of class to protest the climate emergency. But Thunberg isn't alone. Although she is indisputably the face of a movement, there are many other young leaders who are taking serious action to protect both their communities and our world.
Thirteen-year-old Sáj Starcevich, a member of the Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation, is one of Saskatchewan's young leaders fighting the systems that enable climate change. Being a vegan all her life, Starcevich has long been involved in animal rights activism, but learning more recently about the state of the planet has prompted her to focus on the environment.
“When I found out our world was dying, that mother earth was dying, I started doing climate activism to help mother earth,” said Starcevich. “I feel like I have an obligation to help the earth because I need an earth if I'm going to have a future.”
Starcevich has wasted no time taking action on the climate crisis. She has met with the mayor of Melfort, written to her city council, met with MP Randy Hoback, spoken in front of hundreds of people at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, and attended marches all over the country, including the Thunberg-founded Fridays For Future strikes.
“When adults (contribute to climate change), they know what's happening. But their lives aren't on the line. Ours are. We need to send them that message,” she said.
“My ancestors have been on this land since time immemorial, and the land and mother earth has given us so much. I feel like we owe it to her to take care of her. And the animals, who are like our brothers and sisters, we owe it to them to save the planet.”
Perhaps most notably, Starcevich is one of the 15 young Canadians who are suing the Canadian government over climate change. The lawsuit, filed on October 25, accuses the government of contributing to dangerous climate change. The young plaintiffs are supported by the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, and Our Children's Trust.
“We are hoping for a science-based recovery plan to save our future and mother earth,” she said. “I think if everyone does their best and is motivated to help, we can do it.”
The young climate activist doesn't lack for motivation herself, attributing her family for providing her with encouragement and support. Starcevich was even able to briefly meet her role model, Greta Thunberg, at a climate strike last year in Vancouver.
“It makes me really happy that there's someone like her speaking. She's such a big influence on the climate movement,” said Starcevich. “It's really encouraging, because she's still just a kid, too. That makes me feel like I can make a big difference as well.”