The day of the Sydney People’s Climate March began overcast with the promise of rain but ended up a very warm and humid one.
Over 45,000 people gathered from diverse communities represented by different colours, their spirits undeterred by the rising temperature. This made for a colourful march accompanied by the energy of the cheerful Samba band and the harmonies of the Pacific led by the Fiji Parish choir. One of the key organisers of the march said he was moved by the Pasifika Hymn sung in four part harmonies.
The march began with a prayer service hosted by Pitt Street Uniting Church, featuring the Fiji Parish choir leading the hymns. Symbols representing the hope and pain of our planet from our Indigenous, Australian and Pacific communities were offered in prayer and confession. These symbols were a reminder of our responsibility for the care of the earth and also our failure to manage our resources fairly and wisely. A fitting start to the day, reminding us all why we were marching.
More than 1000 Pacific Islanders donned their red shirts leading the frontline communities in the march. It was inspiring to see RED everywhere – before, during and after the march! It was the first time (other than rugby) in Australia that Pacific Islanders have come together in solidarity on a particular issue.
There was a bold Pacific presence and statement – this is a significant achievement from the work of key Pacific Island UCA ministers, community leaders and artists, and organisations such as 350.org and Pacific Climate Warriors.
The People’s Climate March was an empowering moment for Pacific Islanders and a manifestation of how collectively the diaspora Pacific community can be a strong voice for the Pacific. I was very proud and moved to be a part of this collective and evolving momentum.
But the work for climate justice does not end with the People’s Climate March. This is just the beginning of mobilising our diaspora Pacific communities to become involved in climate justice and advocacy. It is a collective hope that we can be a stronger community here in Australia doing our part in keeping the human face of climate change at the forefront of future debate and policy.
UnitingWorld was proud to stand alongside and in support of our Pacific Island congregations in the diaspora and also our church partners in the Pacific. We’re committed to ongoing climate justice and advocacy through continuing engagement with our Pacific diaspora communities. In the new year UCA Pacific Island ministers and leaders will meet to explore and develop a plan of action for advocacy on climate justice.