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Women's marches across Canada share hope

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Women's March Toronto. Photo: Silvia Maresca/Wikimedia Commons

On January 19, women across the world marched. In many Canadian communities, in freezing cold weather, women stomped and jumped about as they stood up for women's rights. In this great blog, Kathleen Newman Bremang puts together some of her favourite signs from the Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa marches. This article talks about the women who organized the Huron-Bruce sister march which drew upwards of 100 participants to Goderich, Ontario. 

Every year Canadian women impress the world because invariably women brave the cold and the elements to make our voices heard. However, the marches this year were about local organizing, not just about "feel good" marching which was an accusation levelled at previous marches. In Vancouver, the marchers supported the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, in Ontario they stood against the some of the recent changes made by Doug Ford government. Another major theme was violence against women, represented by wearing red scarves -- an idea suggested by the Native Women's Association of Canada to highlight the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The Activist toolkit decided to share stories from marches and associated actions across Canada. Click on the city names to read the most substantive article I could find about each city's march. Please share follow-up actions and I will profile them in the Activist Toolkit. I could not find any events in Northern Canada this year.

Women's March Canada continues to organize events and townhalls. Click here to find out more. There has been a lot of organizing, and too many disconcerting wins, by the "white backlash" in recent years, and we must keep organizing for progressive values. 

Alberta

  • Calgary: This year, Calgary's march partnered with the United Way, launching a community-impact fund called We for She YYC. When people donate, money goes to one of more than 20 women's charities connected to the project.
  • Edmonton: The Edmonton march also focused on opposing hate groups.

British Columbia

  • CourtenayK'omox Valley: People are invited to support a follow-up event, Solidarity with Wet'suwet'en-K'omoks Territory, on January 26.
  • Fraser Valley (Chilliwack): What is different for 2019 is that Wilma's Transition House and the Fraser Valley Labour Council have come on board as partners in the Chilliwack march, which was launched by the Ann Davis Transition Society and University of the Fraser Valley.
  • Grand Forks: Boundary Women's Resource Centre members made pussy hats for the Grand Forks, B.C. marchers.
  • Nanaimo: In Nanaimo, organizers called on participants to go home and do something for their communities. Calls to action could be anything small, from reading more books written by women of colour, to volunteering and advocating for women's groups.
  • Nelson
  • Powell River: Women's March participants held a meditation circle for missing and murdered women, the theme of this year's march in Powell River and held a screening of director Kim O'Bomsawin's documentary Quiet Killing, a film that looks at the mistreatment of Indigenous women in Canada, including unsolved and uncounted crimes against missing and murdered Indigenous women.
  • Salt Spring Island
  • Vancouver: March On Vancouver marched in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en clans. They also had a United Way Period Promise tent which continues to collect money for tampons, pads and menstrual cups. Please visit the March On Vancouver Facebook page for more solidarity actions and organizing. 
  • Victoria: The 2019 organizers decided to forego speakers and invite organizations working in the community to table instead. This created controversy. Please visit the group Facebook page to get involved, learn about events which are being organized by the First Nations community, and about efforts being made to address concerns.

Manitoba

  • Winnipeg: In Winnipeg, organizers of the 2019 Women's March have just formalized a Women's March chapter, and are looking for volunteers to continue to take action. 

New Brunswick

  • Fredericton: The march was followed by a panel discussion which focused on the core values and priorities of women's rights: health, economic security, representation, and safety (HERS). The march route ended at the Fredericton Public Library, where a panel discussion was held to examine the status of women in New Brunswick and the required solutions in relation to the HERS priorities.
  • Saint John: A joyful group of demonstrators gathered in King Square and marched to the Saint John City Market where presenters addressed the crowd. Participants were asked to bring new and gently worn women's clothing to donate to local organizations.

Nova Scotia

  • Digby Neck/Sandy Cove: The march in tiny Sandy Cove has grown from 15 marchers in 2017 to 50 in 2019. Read this article to learn about the violence against women and other issues marchers wanted to address. 

Ontario

  • Connor
  • Haldimand-Norfolk (Port Dover)
  • Hamilton: The Hamilton march was another march focused on action and organizer Ann Davey and said that there will be more actions to come. Check Women's March Hamilton for more information.
  • Huron-Bruce (Goderich)
  • Muskoka: In 2014, YWCA Muskoka's A Statistical Economic and Social Profile of Muskoka revealed that 129 women and 76 children were supported by women's shelters in Muskoka that year alone, the same shelters that were over capacity for 61 days. 
  • Niagara Region (St. Catharines): About 50 people gathered at a cafe to hear activists and artists share their personal experiences about being marginalized because of gender fluidity, being gay, their skin colour, low income and other reasons.
  • Ottawa: Almost 1,500 women turned out for the largest march in Canada in one of the coldest spots. 
  • Owen Sound: After the march, there was a meeting at the local library which ended with participants writing letters demanding support on issues like maintaining funding for the College of Midwives of Ontario which will be dropped off at Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Walker's constituency office.
  • Sarnia-Lambton: The inaugural Sarnia Women's March attracted a crowd one organizer estimated numbered 250. The women and men of all ages listened to speeches during a rally outside the former Sears store and then walked a route shortened after a cold alert was issued Friday by public health officials.
  • Sudbury: "I was really surprised, when I got dropped off, that there were even cars here, because I expected a lot of people would not come," said Kingsley Malo, co-organizer of the march. "I've always held to the idea that if there's more than just me marching down Paris with my solo sign, that we have been a great success, but I would say this has far surpassed my expectations in minus-42-degree weather. We're very excited."
  • Thunder Bay
  • Toronto: Share photos and memories here.
  • Waterloo Region: Marchers marched from Waterloo Public Square to Kitchener City Hall in a march which featured a much-shared speech by Laura Mae Lindo, MPP Kitchener Centre.
  • Woodstock: "Ending violence against women is so important. Equality is important and feminism's not just female based. It's we want justice for environmental issues, health and safety issues, gender equality," said march co-coordinator Kate Leatherbarrow. "Woodstock's a wonderful community and to realize we're putting Woodstock on the map it really opens people's eyes that there's a lot of social issues going in our city. We need to make sure if people don't have a voice we can help and have more people stand up."

Prince Edward Island

Quebec

  • Montreal: Some organizers proposed moving the march to a date when the weather was less brutal but, when polled, the people who were interested in participating voted to go ahead on January 19. This year's march focused on domestic violence and community organizations which support inclusivity and women facing violence.

Saskatchewan

  • Regina: Organizers in Regina chose to focus on Indigenous women and girls that have been murdered or are currently missing.
  • Saskatoon: Over 100 people came out during one of the coldest weeks in Saskatchewan this winter. The focus was on gender violence and inclusivity.

 

Maya Bhullar is rabble's Activist Toolkit Coordinator. The Activist Toolkit Blog is the place to catch up on what's new with the Toolkit. With roundups of newly added tools, highlights of featured tools and extra multimedia content, you'll get up to date info on grassroots organizing.

Photo: Silvia Maresca/Wikimedia Commons

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