On Saturday March 21st, 2017, roughly three million people around the world came together in solidarity with the Women’ s March on Washington, of which nearly half a million people attended.
I felt proud to be a part of this historical day, as I joined the sea of people who attended Montreal’s Manif des Femmes/ March for Women. Around eight to ten thousand Montrealers of all a different age, gender, race, class, etc. came together at the Place des Arts, in order to demonstrate their support of women’s rights, as well as the rights of many other marginalized groups (for example indigenous groups, gay rights, transgender rights, and Black Lives Matter). They were also there in support of environmental issues such as global warming.
Being at the Manif des Femmes was an emotional, humbling and rewarding experience. It was truly incredible to witness such a diverse group of people and children uniting together during such an uncertain and potentially harmful time. Everywhere I looked people were holding up signs showing their support and unity for one another. I found it outstanding how many children attended the protest with their parents, clearly demonstrating the urgency for a better future. It is wonderful that parents brought their children, leading by positive example of their beliefs.
It was a peaceful demonstration with people listening to each of the strong and inspiring female speakers who took turns to speak in French and English, including McGill’s very own professor Rachel Zellars. At times, the speakers and crowd even interacted with one another, joining in with songs and chants. One of the highlights also included a musical performance by the ‘The Raging Grannies’, a group of elderly women who have been fighting for women’s rights and social justice since the eighties. It was motivating to listen to these women who have devoted their lives to engaging in social activism for peace, the environment and basic human rights. Particularly pertinent to Canada’s history, there was also a beautiful Indigenous performance by the Buffalo Hat Singers, really emphasizing the cultural inclusivity of the crowd that gathered.
Being amongst so many passionate people who came to show their support provided me with a restored sense of hope for what we can achieve if we stick together and help one another. The fact that so many people in Montreal and around the world are demanding change and that their voices be heard, proves that no matter what lies ahead for the next four years, the women and citizens of America will have the support and help from millions of other citizens worldwide.
It was a truly surreal experience to be a part of this movement and stand up for fundamental human rights and equality. While the circumstances are saddening, this experience has shown me that change is possible.
Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/events/1711075705872620/
All other images authors own