GUELPH -- More than 300 pairs of shoes were in front of Guelph City Hall Friday afternoon, but no people were standing in them.

The footwear was aligned for an hour by a group of high school students as part of a ‘shoe strike’: an event aiming to bring awareness to the climate crisis.

The empty shoes were designed to highlight the number of people who wanted to attend the protest, but could not due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Organizers say they hope the event acts as a reminder to politicians that the environment and worldwide pollution cannot be ignored.

“This is definitely an issue that has to be addressed because COVID-19 has overshadowed it,” said Eli Shifflette. “We’ve spent a lot more time on COVID, which is needed, but climate change is still happening.”

The organizer adds that certain pandemic trends have also negatively impacted the environment.

“There is more waste than ever with the takeout and the masks that get thrown out,” said Shifflette. “People aren’t doing that great discarding them. I’ll find them in the streets, and that needs to change.”

The shoe strike was put together in solidarity with Guelph Fridays for Future, Kitchener-Waterloo Climate Save, Youth Action on Climate Change, and Extinction Rebellion.

All the shoes from the event will be donated to local charities Hope House and Royal City Mission.