The Climate Action Team at Hampton High School (HHS) are not only activists but also allies to Indigenous peoples. Today in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, MLA Megan Mitton (Green Party, Memramcook-Tantramar) tabled a petition from HHS students in support of the Wolastoq Grand Council resolution against nuclear energy development and nuclear waste.
Despite the challenges of personal contact during the pandemic, the HHS Climate Action Team collected 110 written signatures. The petition asks “that the NB government respect the Wolastoq Grand Council resolution to immediately halt all public funding of Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMNR) development, and pivot to investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy storage technologies.”
HHS grade 9 student Kennedy McCarron said: “As a person with Indigenous relatives, I think it’s important that we respect the wishes of the First Nations People about this issue.” Jordan Smith, a grade 10 student, added: “I think this petition is important because most people our age are not aware of the SMNR issue, and we need to be in collaboration with the First Nations People and we aren’t right now. We should not go forward with this project without their consent.”
Research has shown clearly that the development of the nuclear reactors proposed for New Brunswick will not contribute to climate action because they are too slow to develop and too expensive to build. The nuclear projects proposed for the Point Lepreau site on the Bay of Fundy also raise many environmental issues.
Two grade 9 students at HHS stressed their environmental concerns behind their petition. “I think it’s important to raise awareness about the effects of the planned SMNRs on the environment,” said Gracie McCrea. Mya Simpson added: “I think renewable energy sources are a better way of achieving the NB 2030 Climate Action Goals.”
Laura Myers, faculty advisor of the Hampton High School Climate Action Team and Environmental Science teacher said she is proud of the members of the Hampton High School Climate Action Team for researching this topic and then putting their concerns into action by writing this petition. “When collecting signatures, they had to explain their reasoning for writing it to adults, knowing that they would be met with questions and opposition. That takes courage,” Myers explained.
Myers said she is thankful to Megan Mitton for agreeing to read the petition in the legislature and for signing it herself. “The students feel proud of this accomplishment, and they hope that this is the beginning of action by our government to support the Wolastoq Grand Council’s resolution against further investments in SMNRs,” she said. Bennett Riecken, a grade 9 student added: “I think it’s really nice that we’re being heard.”
Ron Tremblay, Chief of the Wolastoq Grand Council, sent a letter of thanks to the HHS students in the Climate Action Team for their support. In part, his letter said: “This gives me total confidence that our future young leaders and policy makers like Yourselves will Protect and Secure Mother Earth, Her Waterways and Air for all our Grandchildren, Great Grandchildren and next Seven Generations. Please keep up the great work and demand Your strong voice(s) be heard for the Protection of Mother Earth, Her Waterways and Air.”
Susan O’Donnell is researcher on the RAVEN project (Rural Action and Voices for the Environment) at the University of New Brunswick.