Calgary marches for women’s rights
By Robyn Welsh, Features Editor, and Kennedy Enns, Arts Editor
The Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017 at the National Mall in Washington D.C. attracted between 440,000 to 500,000 participants. According to the New York Times, the march was estimated to have three times as many participants than Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Satellite marches occurred in over 650 cities across the globe. In Calgary, the sister march saw participation from approximately five thousand activists.
According to the platform shared by the organizers of the event, the suggested reforms include access to affordable reproductive health care, paid family leave, a living minimum wage for all, the end of police targeting communities of colour and Indigenous communities. The march also stood for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, immigration reform that would make citizenship more attainable, and protection of the environment — all this was listed under the “Unity Principles” on the womensmarch.com website.
Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes and Chantal Stormsong Chagnon, two Status Indian Cree women and members of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan led a drum circle before the event. This mother and daughter duo raise cultural awareness of First Nations and Indigenous people and their traditions.
On Jan. 21st, the Calgary march began at 1 p.m. beside the statues of the Famous Five.
A tremendous feeling of fortitude and empowerment filled the air as activists marched the short distance from the Famous Five statues to the Municipal building. Cold January air bit at marcher’s toes. The crowd was buzzing with talk about the various signs people had made and the reasons they were at the march. Several times, the crowd burst into chanting, ‘women’s rights are human rights.’
One attendee of the march, MRU student Mariah Blanchard said the march was an amazing experience. “I found the Women’s March to be empowering. Not just the idea of the march, but the experience itself. Seeing all these women and men in one place with the same goal in mind really brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
Activist and Calgary comedian Adora Nwofor, participated in the march and emceed outside of the Municipal building that afternoon, using her energy and inclusive language to bring the crowd together.
“We need more women’s voices, more nonbinary voices, more disabled voices,” said Nwofor as she emphatically addressed the crowd.
The march included speeches from Mount Royal University professor and Calgary Library author in residence, Micheline Maylor as well as Anita Lee Yuen, the CEO for the Centre for Newcomers.
There was some backlash from the global community. Conservative news media, anti-feminist groups and Trump supporters made attempts to delegitimize the march’s progress.
While some would consider the march a success, that doesn’t mean that it was without issues.
Pussy hats’, homemade pink hats with cat ears, were made in response to Trump’s “grab her by the pussy” rhetoric but the overwhelming association with female genitalia being superior contributed to alienating transgender individuals.
The prevalence of a white, cis, straight feminist attitudes ignored the intersectionality that the march was trying to create. It’s important for modern feminists to understand that genitalia in no way equals gender. As feminists, we must learn from these mistakes and actively work towards growing and changing to create a movement based on diversity and inclusivity.