From Whitehouse to St. John’s—and in dozens of cities in between the Yukon and Newfoundland—thousands are expected to gather on Jan. 20 for the second anniversary of the Women’s March.
It’s almost a year to the date since millions of people came together in cities both big and small (shout to to Sandy Cove in Nova Scotia) to protest the inauguration of the U.S. president following one of the most virulently sexist campaigns in American politics to date. FLARE spoke to people participating in the event last year and asked they why there were marching. “Because sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option,” one woman told us. “To build a future that centres, listens and believes women who historically and to this day have been ignored,” another said. “Because our future must include all of us.”
For many, those same sentiments still ring true. But for others, the fight has become even more focused. If you needed a little more motivation ahead of tomorrow—or just a reminder that bright sparks live among us—look no further than these incredible pillars of strength right here from one of your very own cities.
Nasra Adem is marching in Edmonton
“Last year many of us witnessed what is possible when we remember we are all responsible for each other. We witnessed the magnitude of feminine strength, solidarity and badassery. But those traits did not stop or begin at the March. I am marching because of what happened AFTER. And what DIDN’T. I march because love is not exempt from critique, consistency or courage. I march because white supremacy is alive and well, even amongst those we want to trust. I march because I am interested in people more than the ‘idea’ of them. I march because I’m still angry, and still hopeful, and still threatened. I march to release responsibility of others and choose my own joy. I march to prove to myself it’s still worth it. I read, I listen, I question, I breathe and I change. I march to hold myself and the world I love accountable to its promises. I am marching again because I know to master anything, you’ve simply got to practice.”
Adora Nwofor is marching in Calgary
“To be honest, my reason has not changed, because I do feel like this world centres men, and 50 percent of the population is not being heard because of their gender. As well, we are not focusing on women’s issues, challenges, or contributions that they are and could be be making; their decisions, their point of view, how they can help improve the world and all of our experiences. I think that that’s unfortunate. But, I also have an added reason this year: intersectionality. I am a woman of colour, and very often I am asked to choose sides between race and gender, and I won’t because I’m both. I should not have to choose, because both affect my life in an intertwined way. So, I think that it’s very important that we pay attention to people not just by their gender or their sex or how they identify or their race or their disability or their ability—or anything like that. The world is not easy to navigate, and it’s not a straight line, so none of our experiences are going to be that way, either. As a society, we need to face that and deal with it accordingly. That’s why I’m marching again.” Adora will also be the grand marshal, host and master of ceremonies at the Calgary Women’s March this year.
Sim Pannu is marching in Winnipeg
“As a woman of colour, I’m still struggling to find my voice in the feminist narrative that has been dominated by white women. This has been a huge problem in partisan politics and I made the decision this past fall to step away from partisan politics for good. As a federal case worker, this has allowed me to focus once again on the constituents and their needs rather than trying to push partisanship and pseudo-feminism while being expected to supress my own experiences of marginalization as a woman of colour.
In my role as a federal caseworker for one of the poorest federal ridings in Canada, and one that has seen a high level of newcomer resettlement, much of my work, especially in 2016, centred on family reunification. The conflicts that I only read and heard about while completing my under graduate degree were suddenly feeling a lot more real to me. I was finally able to understand on a human level how global conflict and forced resettlement was effecting women and girls in regions throughout Africa and the Middle East because of meeting the women and girls that lived through these tragedies. The experiences with inequality and social injustice they have faced and continue to face, simply because they are female, is so absent from the Canadian narrative of feminism. We cannot be a truly inclusive movement until all experiences, especially those from the margins, are embraced. So on Saturday I am marching for these amazing women who have shared their stories with me and who have trusted me to assist them in reuniting with their families. I am also marching for my daughter, my sister, my mom, my aunts, grandmothers and all the women in my family before me who have faced any form of adversity.”
Stephanie Tadeo is marching in Ottawa
“I think we often forget that power and privilege are always present; they undergird all of our social relationships and structure the way we interact with each other. And even the most well-intentioned movements are not immune to this. Last year, in some respects, the Women’s March seemed a continuing affirmation of one dominant experience of femininity (mostly read: heteronormative, white, middle class, able-bodied) while leaving little to no room for hearing and learning about other experiences of femininity (Black, queer, Indigenous, working class, racialized, migrant, trans, disability). These criticisms are valid. But to me, they don’t have to represent the end of the story. Instead, they represent a starting point: a place where we learn about ourselves, how we contribute to systems of inequality and oppression, and where we can do better to fill the gaps in our knowledge. And so, I choose to march because I believe that representation is important. Who you see is important. Who you hear is important. If we can find a way to keep showing up, then we make visible what has been invisible for too long, and make heard what has been silenced far too often. We can achieve true resistance: resistance to fascism, resistance to inequality and and resistance to assaults on femininity and queerness and racialized bodies.”
Mahlet Cuff is marching in Winnipeg
“I have found a home within feminism; it has been able to give me a sense of who I am and who I want to be in the future. Finding solidarity between like-minded folks has given me hope for the future. Hope that even though a lot of bad things can happen, a lot of women, queer women, black women and trans women are doing amazing work to better their communities. It makes me so happy and glad that I get the opportunity to march again this year and I can’t imagine a year now when I won’t.”
Rebekah Bennetch is marching in Saskatoon
“This is the second year I’m participating in Saskatoon’s Women’s March, and I’ve decided to move from being a participant to taking a more active role by volunteering for the event. I want to dedicate more of my time & efforts into supporting feminist causes. I’m encouraged by the heightened awareness that’s been started by the brave words of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and I want to continue to do my part in helping others’ voices be heard. Not only that, but I want to show my 11-year-old daughter that speaking out and taking action can spark meaningful change. The Women’s March is one way we can continue the work of making a difference in the lives of anyone who identifies as a woman.”
Kate Siena is marching in Toronto
“I am marching in the Women’s March again because the news has been flooded with important dialogue about women’s rights and issues this past year. I have two clever kids who need to understand the significance of women’s issues and the recent #MeToo movement. I am marching with daughter to help her see that women shouldn’t be, and cannot be, silent. The women at this march are models for my daughter—who is on the verge of being a teenager—showing that she should never have to feel that she needs to remain silent. I want her to know that she has the right to safety and respect and if she is ever denied them, she should speak out.”
Jessica DeWitt is marching in Saskatoon
“Last year’s march was an invigorating experience. It was my first time experiencing the way in which the energy of a crowd can manifest almost tangible hope. I march again this year in order to honour the difficult work that so many individuals have conducted this past year on personal and societal levels. I march in order to sustain the momentum that we began last year and to demonstrate tenacious resilience in the face of systemic oppression. I march for those individuals who cannot. I march in order to honour and celebrate my individuality, my rebelliousness, my queerness, the deep empathy that I have for this world and the people in it.”
It’s Been Six Months Since the Women’s March: What’s Happened to the Canadian Movement
Master of None’s Lena Waithe on How to Have Difficult Conversations
“Why I’m Marching:” 32 Women on the Women’s March