My Future, My Right: Finding My Place in the Climate Justice Movement

My name is Sofia Valdes, and I am a junior in high school.

I recently joined YEA! MN’s Core — a network of high school students taking action for a just transition to a resilient climate future for all. I am also involved with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light and iMatter, and I started a green team at my school this year!

After a trip to Northern Shore of Minnesota when I was 10, I fell in love with nature and all of its bounties. This became the biggest push to get myself involved with climate work.

Youth and allies march through the street. Credit: Photo from iMatter Youth

Recently, I met a girl that has been doing climate work for a long time and had way more experience than me, and she connected me with a bunch of people and organizations I could reach out to to learn more. Quickly after, YEA! MN’s Core joined with other youth across the state in a coalition called MN Can’t Wait to organize the Our Future, Our Right climate march with a little over a month’s notice. We truly hit the ground running.

Rallies and marches similar to ours were held on the same day all over the country to highlight the Juliana v. U.S. case heading to trial, where 21 youth are suing the U.S. government for failing to acknowledge climate change and threatening their constitutional right to life, liberty, and happiness.

Locally, we also announced that youth are taking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to court to stop the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline.

Banners hang to dry after an art-build, reading “MN Youth for Climate Justice” and “Our Future, Our Right; Stop Fossil Fuels Now; Life, Liberty, & Happiness; Let the youth be heard; Protect Future Generations.” Credit: photo from MN350

Prior to the march, we held a video conference every week, made and distributed flyers, posted on social media, and even did press outreach! When the big day finally came, everyone was so excited and pleasantly surprised when over 300 people showed up! We met at the courthouse in Saint Paul, where five local youth told their stories about how climate change has affected them. Then we marched to the capitol, singing and chanting, where we met in the rotunda—which was packed!

Doing climate work has been so rewarding for me, especially when I am surrounded by supportive peers.

I am so excited for what is to come out of MN Can’t Wait, and I hope some of you will join me along the way!

Youth hold a banner reading “Governor Dayton: We need a future, not a pipeline” Credit: Photo from Mairi Campbell Doerr


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