MELFORT — Sàj Starcevich of Melfort is among 15 young Canadians from across the country filing a lawsuit against the federal government of Canada for contributing to climate change.
The case argues the youth are being harmed by climate change and the federal government is violating their rights to life, liberty and security of the person under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and for failing to protect essential public trust resources.
The youth also allege that their government’s conduct violates their right to equality under section 15 of the Charter, since youth are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change.
“My life may have been violated by the federal government, and I feel obligated to act upon that,” Starcevich said in an exclusive interview with the East Central Recorder. “It’s my future and I just feel if it’s my future I should do something about it.”
Starcevich said she isn’t worried about a possible backlash the lawsuit could bring her. Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old climate change activist from Sweden, recently had a mural defaced of her in Alberta with the words “this is oil country” and “stop the lies”.
“I don’t care if somebody is bullying me, because I know I’m doing the right thing,” she said. “This is something I have to do and have to know about. Everyone has to speak up for it.”
She said that so far her family has been supportive of her endeavour, and peers were mostly supportive.
“Most of my peers thought it was really cool because I met David Suzuki and Greta [Thunberg].”
Starcevich said she first got into climate change activism from her animal activism.
“I just felt they were so interconnected, so why not do both? One affects the other,” she said.
“Climate change doesn’t only affect us as humans, but it also affects the animals. So they are pretty much connected.”
The group of youth, from seven Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territories, are represented by the law firms of Arvay Finlay LLP and Tollefson Law Corporation, and are supported by the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), David Suzuki Foundation and Our Children’s Trust.
“In Melfort there has been extreme weather, like really cold in the winter and really hot in the summer, and around Melfort there have been flooding and fires and stuff,” Starcevich said.
The lawsuit calls on Canada to cease violating the youth’s Charter and public trust rights and prepare and implement a plan that reduces Canada’s GHG emissions in a manner consistent with what the best available science indicates is needed for the federal government to protect young Canadians, do its fair share to stabilize the climate system and avert the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
“This means that the federal government is actually doing something.” Starcevich said. “The science is pretty clear, and time is running out, so the time to act is now. The federal government has known for decades about the violation of our rights and threat to our lives.”