Young voices/Canada: “We need to rethink a whole new system.”

Portrait, Allie Rougeot

Filed by Matthew Tegelberg. “The indigenous people are suffering not only from the effects of climate change, it’s going to be worse from the northern communities, with food scarcity, spreading disease. They’re also suffering from the causes of it, says Allie Rougeot (21) from Toronto.

As this story is published (July 2021), North Canada experiences terrible wildfires and summer temperature records.

Allie Rougeot is already a seasoned climate activist. She has been inspired by Greta Thunberg, but also by a local boy she met. He was barely 14 and told her that he did not want to die from a flood. Although she thought he was oversimplifying things, he made a deep impression.

As an activist, Allie has been to many demonstrations. Sometimes she meets IPCC scientists. – One of them, broke down in tears and hugged me, saying: “you’re the reason I still wake up in the morning.” So … and then at the same time you’re meeting these people that are not afraid of saying we need to rethink a whole new system.

From the outset of her activism in Canada, one of her main concerns has been the fate of the indigenous people. – They’re getting pipelines on their land and … so they are frontline, frontline, I would say. And then I think for example in Ontario (climate change) would be affecting the people that are living not like me on campus, basically, anyone who has a house that’s in proximity to a body of water will suffer from this soon. In Alberta it was with the fires. We very much have communities affected.

Fears and hopes

Allie grew up in France, where she spent much time with her grandma. -As a kid I would throw the rest of the bread in the water and then fish would come, and then maybe three years ago I did it again, I went back, and no fish came, and I was, like where are the fish?

Her grandma told her that the port had become too polluted. – So that was not climate change, but it’s human action that destroyed something you know.

When asked what is driving her most, hope or fear, she hesitates. – People always say hope is much more efficient than fear, research-wise. It’s fear that’s driving me, for sure. So I’m confused. And at this point I think we have so much data already, so we just need it to be spread!

She hopes that by the time she is 30, the world has avoided the worst, but remains uncertain. The fear is still there. –  So the worst weathers, the foods that are becoming harder to grow and less nutritious, something people don’t talk a lot about, but when our soils are less healthy, and/ the food we eat is useless, basically, so we’re taking in calories, no nutrients. So I’m also expecting more and more, like health problems. Yeah, I think we’re going to see a lot of the health-related stuff, mental health-related stuff.

One of the problems, as Allie sees it, is that a lot of people’s income relies on high carbon-emitting industry. – So until we also have a government that says hey, we’re actually going to help you transition, I don’t see why individuals would quit their jobs in a pipeline, because you can’t ask that from someone. So I think we have actually huge barriers, but I’d say, yeah, the first one is probably this huge corporate power here.