A Sudbury girl has earned national recognition for her efforts to raise awareness on the climate crisis.
The Canadian Museum of Nature presented their Nature Inspiration awards in Ottawa last week.
Wining in the youth category (17 and younger) was Sophia Mathur, a 12-year-old student in Sudbury.
“Sophia’s environmental lobbying to politicians began at age seven and has since taken her all the way to the United States Congress with the organization Citizens’ Climate Lobby,” wrote the Museum of Nature.
“She embraced Greta Thunberg’s call for youth climate action and is credited for bringing Fridays for Future to Canada. Among her accomplishments, Sophia has spoken at national conferences and she helped create the art installation Parachute for the Planet, which was displayed in 2018 at venues including Parliament Hill.”
Patricia Fuller, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, presented the young Sudbury activist with her award.
In a video tribute to Mathur, the museum noted she has “shown adults how powerful a youth’s voice can be when speaking to politicians.”
In her acceptance speech, Mathur acknowledged the “incredible work” of fellow nominees Rebecca Hamilton, 17, from Vancouver; Abhayjeet Singh Sachal, 17, from Surrey; and Stephanie Quon, 17, from Vancouver. She also thanked the Museum of Nature in Ottawa and Science North in Sudbury for educating the public.
Mathur said she was inspired by Thunberg, her father Sanjiv Mathur, her paternal grandfather Sukhdev Mathur, and four Kates — Canadian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe; Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada; mom Cathy Orlando, international outreach manager with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby; and Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The day after the award ceremony, Mathur met with McKenna, with whom she had a memorable exchange in 2017, at the age of 10.
At that time she made a “pinky promise” with the minister that she would help get adults to do more to protect the climate. McKenna, who had kept her previous correspondence with Mathur, recalled this day in their more recent meeting.
Following the awards ceremony last week, the two kept up a conversation through Twitter.
“It’s important for politicians to listen to young people, especially when it comes to fighting climate change,” McKenna tweeted. “I’ve known about @SophiaMathur’s work for some time — she’s been using her voice and taking action for years. Glad we could catch up again, Sophia. Keep pushing forward!”
Mathur responded: “Hello fellow human beings, we are in a #ClimateEmergency and we need to do something now! @cathmckenna is one of my climate heroes. Youth and adults need to work together to solve this problem. Thank you.”
McKenna replied: “Thank you @sophiamathur. You are my hero!”
Mathur said the Canadian parliament, the City of Greater Sudbury and even the board of her school “have recognized that we are in a climate emergency.”
She urged everyone “to listen carefully to the experts,” including Nobel economists and those involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Lancet Countdown and the Paris Agreement.
“It is so simple,” she said. “Listen and then co-operate, please.”
There next Fridays For Future event of significance will be Nov. 29.