Reflecting Back on the Ottawa Women's March

Hundreds gathered at Parliament Hill on Saturday morning in to attend Ottawa’s Third-Annual Women’s March.

The march began with a rally on Parliament Hill and continued with a walk downtown to Lansdowne park.

Some women of colour said the movement is not as inclusive or intersectional as it needs to be.

“The Women’s March does not have the best image in [people of colour] circles, especially Black ones,” said Celestina Nicole.

Nicole helped in the logistics of the event and recruited performers, “My role in organizing the Women’s March was mostly recruitment, looking for [people of colour] who want to get involved [in the march]” Nicole said. “The Women’s March is seen as the white women’s march and I wanted to be a part of change.” 

The Women’s March in Ottawa is often criticized for excluding marginalized groups and centering feminism on white cis-gender women.

“There is a lot of non-inclusive feminism that exists. Women’s March should not aim to please them,” Nicole said. “The Women’s March can be more inclusive by recruiting more diverse members from the community they serve. Once these members are recruited, they should be heard, and they should be treated as active members with lots to contribute."

Shaylin Allison, a second year Humanities student, said that she did not attend the Women’s March this year because she felt that her identity was excluded at the Women’s March in 2018.

Allison said that she identifies as an intersectional feminist.

She attended the march in Ottawa in 2018 and found that it was not as intersectional as she had hoped, “As an Indigenous queer person, I felt a little excluded or out of place,” she said.

“The event is important in a lot of ways, but we need to do better to be more inclusive of individuals of colour and out of the binary,” she said. “We need to acknowledge that we are marching on stolen land, no matter who we are we’re still occupying this unceded territory."

This year, the Women’s March Ottawa Chapter worked with the Native Women's Association of Canada to amplify the voices of Indigenous people.

“[This Women’s March] was an opportunity for us in Ottawa…to use our platform to remind Canadians that our Indigenous sisters experience violence at much higher rates than many other women,” said Catherine Butler, one of the organizers of the Women’s March Ottawa movement, and the Chair of the Board of Directors for Women’s March Canada. 

“This will be a movement for all women in this country, and until every single Canadian woman sees herself reflected in the work and accomplishments of the Women's March movement in every community, we will continue to strive to make it so,” Butler said.

She also said that this year was successful, and the Women’s March Canada will continue to make the event more inclusive and intersectional.