Men, women, and children filled the streets of Calgary for the third annual Women’s March on Jan. 19, 2018.
The march focused on violence against Indigenous women, domestic abuse, and the treatment of trans women.
“If people are marginalized, they are voiceless, and somebody has to speak out for them,” said Ashley Bristowe, one of the event’s organizers.
“Intersectional feminism is the only way forward in 2019.”
Intersectional feminism is an approach the recognizes not only women’s issues, but issues of races, class, gender identity, age and other characteristics.
The march started at Bankers Hall and moved east down to City Hall Plaza, where attendees gathered to listen to a handful of speeches.
The speeches were interrupted by cars honking and chants of ‘O Canada’ coming from Yellow Vests Canada, a group of protesters demonstrating against Justin Trudeau.
The group handed out a manifesto calling for ‘a Canada-wide cry for support, all as one,’ and meetings outside City Hall every Saturday.
“Calgary can stand up and speak out and say, ‘We are invested in these issues,’” said Michael Kehler, a masculinity scholar at the University of Calgary.
“Equality means acknowledging diversity and equal rights for all people.”
According to Bristowe, the 2017 march saw 6,000 people in attendance, while the 2018 march saw 2,500.
The turnout this year was estimated at about 1,500, due to the subzero temperatures and a collision on the downtown CTrain tracks.
“All the trains, in both directions, are full of marchers who aren’t here yet, so it’s going to get big,” she said.
The speeches were hosted by local comedian Adora Nwofor, who described the racism and sexism that she experiences in Calgary.
“Sometimes men will ask me, ‘Why are you wearing heels?’ and I will say, ‘Because I wear whatever I want.’”
“I think it’s really important for men and boys to engage in the conversation and be part of the change,” said Kehler.
Another speaker was Michelle Robinson, the Indigenous liaison for the 12 Community Safety Initiative, who named a list of Indigenous women who were either missing or murdered.
“If you don’t know these names and these families, then your feminism is not intersectional,” she said in her speech.
“It’s too uncomfortable for folks to understand, so trying to ignore it is a lot easier.”
Aria Burrell, a Mount Royal University student, spoke about the rights of trans women and why all women should be respected.
“I’m proud of Alberta’s support for diversity,” she said.
“By focusing on what’s manageable, we drastically increase our capacity to act.”
Chantal Chagnon, founder of Cree8, an Indigenous culture workshop, led the group in a ‘Woman’s Song,’ accompanied by hand-made drums.
“If you don’t know where you stand, how do you know where you are going?” said Chagnon.
She believes that if more women speak out, then it will reduce the amount of violence, crime, and murder that happen to marginalized women.
“I wanted to make sure that if anything happens to me, my kids will get justice and will have answers,” said Chagnon.
Chagnon’s mother, Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, is the first Indigenous female leader for the Green Party of Alberta.