Guelph Student Aims to 'Fill the Hill' on Climate Action Day

October 07, 2009 - News Release

A University of Guelph student is spearheading a national initiative to get thousands of people to gather on Parliament Hill on Oct. 24 to push for action on climate change.

Climate Day: Fill the Hill will be the largest event to take place in Canada as part of the International Day of Climate Action, said organizer Gracen Johnson. The 20-year-old environmental advocate and U of G international development student is urging people from all backgrounds and all parts of the country to carpool, charter buses, take trains or use any other form of sustainable transportation to Ottawa and help make history.

“By coming together on Oct. 24, Canadians from all walks of life can make their voices heard on the most important issue facing our planet,” said Johnson, whose activism was inspired by hearing David Suzuki say that the only way to spark legislative action on climate change is to fill Parliament Hill with concerned citizens.

“It’s not intended to be an angry finger-wag at the government,” she said. “We just want to show our politicians that Canadians not only support them in making some difficult and brave choices in order to do what’s right, but that we also insist they do what’s right, rather than what’s easy or politically expedient.”

Combined with thousands of grassroots happenings large and small in communities all over the world that day, Fill the Hill is intended to be a low-commitment, high-impact event, Johnson added.

“This is just one weekend, but it’s going to be the weekend. This could be a turning point for our country.”

To make it happen, Johnson has assembled a team of volunteers with the help of co-director Aiden Abram, a Guelph graduate working in community development and environmental services, as well as U of G political science student Derek Alton.

“We’ve got a broad base of people and organizations involved who will make this event unlike any other,” said Alton. “It’s a huge logistical challenge, but we can do it. It’s unifying. It’s not just for environmentalists: it’s for all people, all Canadians, all people around the world.”

The event will take place six weeks before world leaders gather in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Johnson and Alton invite people who are concerned about the issue to participate Oct. 24 in their own communities or by heading to Ottawa. Johnson said people can also help by asking members of Parliament to speed passage of Bill C-311, which requires Canada to meet its international obligations by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 25 per cent below 1990 levels in the next 10 years, and by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“We’re sending a clear message to our government that we want Canada to play a positive role in Copenhagen in December,” she said. “We want Canada to lead, follow, or get out of the way in Copenhagen. If that happens, then that’s an achievement.”

For more information, visit the website or contact Johnson at For media questions, contact U of G Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or

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