The crowd may have been smaller than last year’s women’s march, but the cheers were still loud and the messages mighty.
A few thousand people gathered at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver Saturday for the second annual Women’s March 2018.
With signs in hand more than 2,000 women and supporters attended to commemorate one year since the historic Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington took place, in protest of U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Meanwhile, other marches held for the first time took place in Comox Valley, Chilliwack and Salmon Arm. A march in Kelowna didn’t quite get off the ground due to lack of coordination, drawing a small group of about 20.
While last year’s march took a theme of allied support for B.C.’s neighbours to the south, this year focussed on the need for continued commorodary against racism, discrimination, assault against sex workers, and a need to increase support for the working mother and the fight for equal pay.
“Coast to coast, we march on because women’s rights are human rights,” event co-organizer Jodie Ortega yelled to the crowd.
For Michelle Lindholm, originally from Ontario but now living in Vancouver, said participating in the march was a way to create change for the next generation – including her younger cousin.
While many of the problems have been brought to light, such as violence against woman and harassment, Lindholm said, it’s still happening.
“We’re having these conversations now. We’re also asking our young men ‘why is this behaviour okay?’” she said. “The conversation’s we’re having with that – it’s being brought to light – but we’re still having problems with that.”
Lindholm was marching in memory of her late aunt, who she said taught her to never be silent and to fight.
Organized by March On Vancouver, speakers at the event included Annie Ohana, a teacher at Surrey’s L.A. Matheson secondary school, transgender sex worker and activist Hailey Heartless and Arian Yetbarek from Black Lives Matter Vancouver. Sharon Gregson, advocate for $10 a day childcare also spoke.
Fighting through tears, Noor Fadel, the 18-year-old Muslim woman who was assaulted on the Canada Line SkyTrain in December, shared a powerful poem to the crowd about her experience.
“We are the finish line for the voices who were inspired to speak up,” she told the crowd.
“We unify together.”