The 2017 Women's March brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the street. When the 2018 Women's March rolled around, rabble.ca contacted organizers and friends across Canada and scoured social media to learn about their experiences. Officially, 38 communities across Canada organized marches. In reality, there were more marches, some of which were under a different banner.
Two of the important critiques of the 2017 Women's March were about inclusivity and the failure to channel the energy into local fights. The march in Vancouver made headlines when it became one of the marches boycotted by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and trans activists in 2017. Many of my friends from the BLM movement, or who were working on immigrant rights, or on prison reform, were disappointed when protests organized against deportations or police violence in the following months had very few new faces.
In Vancouver, representatives of BLM Vancouver and from the trans community were part of the organizing committee and participated. This time the conflict around inclusivity arose on the other end of the country, in Halifax, where a separate "Walking the Talk" march was organized by two spirit, queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and women of colour activists who did not feel enough was done to represent intersectional feminist perspectives. Photos from Whitehorse, where it was -13 degrees C, and Sandy Cove, N.S., where more than half the town came out, made the rounds on social media around the world.
Did the marches address the concerns of all people who identify as women? The speakers' lists, the signs many marchers carried, the Walking the Talk march, showed that the critique had raised awareness and pushed the discussion about inclusivity forward.
The question for me will be in how many of the people who marched on January 20 will turn out when another person of colour is killed by police, another person is being deported, or when workers are standing up for their rights. That is where the change is made. If you only go to the Women's Marches each year, that is a social activity. Getting involved in community struggles is where your participation really matters. That is where intersectionalism comes in, in supporting each other's struggles.
One of the best innovations I read about was the living library. In Lethbridge, the organizers decided to help the marchers get involved in local campaigns and struggles by organizing a living library, a space where local organizers set up booths explaining their initiatives and how to get involved.
Click here to see photos. Here are some accounts from marchers across the country:
Rhonda Connell (Fredericton, NB):
The part of this year’s women’s march that spoke most to me are those moments when the voices of young girls are heard.
My daughter and her friends marched together and hearing their voices through chants, empowered and strong, ringing out over the street gives me optimism and joy.
These girls can grow up with feelings of equality and empowerment. This chanting is a practical and spiritual exercise in strengthening voice so that it is strong when we need it to be. Being visible while we do it, being in the street, being public with our voices, emboldens us all to speak our true and authentic selves!"
Read more about the Women's March:
- Podcast: Women's March on Canada: Interview with Samantha Monckton and Frieda Werden
- Podcast: Women's March on Canada 2018
- Blog: #MeToo on the march
- Podcast: Women's March London -- An audio picture
Image by Abdul Malik
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