Written by: Riley Ruff

On June 14th, I joined a group of students and adults in front of the Denver Capitol Building to celebrate the intersection of indigenous rights, environmental activism, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Groups included Colorado Young Leaders, The International Indigenous Youth Council, 350 Colorado and Earth Guardians. Participants gathered to represent the Colorado branch of the climate strikes occurring all over the world, as inspired by Greta Thunberg. We incorporated other special aspects into the event, with the intention of acknowledging and representing all of the different groups actively impacted by the climate crisis. 

The International Indigenous Youth Council highlighted how many Native American cultures and spiritual beliefs are deeply connected with the planet. Indigenous youth leaders at the event conveyed this connection with traditional dance and prayer. As the first speaker of the event and a rising senior at Standley Lake High School, I was honored to talk about students as the next generation of changemakers and the necessity for corporate change as well as individual activism. The second speaker, Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez from Womxn from the Mountain, discussed the occurrences of young indigenous women disappearing off reservations that are being industrialized and invaded for oil resources. The third speaker was Miranda Galsbergen, a volunteer with 350 Colorado, who highlighted the impact 350 Colorado has made over the past four years through divestment and political action. The fourth speaker was Liam Grove, a rising junior at Regis Jesuit High School, who talked about youth action and the necessity for students to get involved, highlighting the impact young people have the potential to make. 

The Pride Climate Strike acted as a mechanism through which multiple different organizations and people from a diverse variety of backgrounds could intersect, thus not only creating a common goal everyone is fighting for but also developing a united community filled with individuals. Even though Pride and the Climate Crisis are generally not two issues that are paired together, the reality of it is we cannot hold Pride parades or advocate for equal rights if we don’t have clean air, fresh water and outdoor spaces to gather. The Earth is our home and if we destroy that home, every other issue from LGBTQ+ rights to food justice ceases to exist. 

As a student and as a young climate activist, seeing a group of people come together to fight for climate action really is a testament to how much change we can make. It is incredibly empowering to be surrounded by students who are willing to speak up, and adults who are willing to listen.

The Strike was the first of many set to occur throughout the summer and the single greatest way you can help is to show up. The next climate strike will take place on July 19th in Denver. Find out more here!

On September 20th, we will be participating in an international day of climate strikes! Stay tuned for more information!