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Gwen Wilson, Sandy Cove March Organizer, Speaks Out

Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia. Home to 65 residents. 

Ringing any bells? Fret not — although you may not have heard of it before, this tiny fishing village is experiencing a big moment in the spotlight for a heartwarming reason. A few weeks ago, Melissa Merritt and Gwen Wilson organized a women’s march to coincide with the March On Washington (and the dozens of other marches around the world.) The twist is that with less than 70 residents, the march in Sandy Cove garnered 15 participants — almost a quarter of the population. Wilson graciously offered to answer some questions for Her Campus and give us the insider scoop on what the march meant to her. 

Photo by Gary Wilson

With the closest march location, Halifax, being 2.5 hours away, Wilson and Merritt planned a 2 mile route to take them from the local school to the fire hall. A Facebook event was created to help spread awareness about the event (the page now has gone on to recieve friendly and supportive responses from all around the world.)

Wilson reports that while she knew the small population would impact the numbers, she was (positively) surprised by the amount of people that showed up, and by the fact that two men joined in. A male tourist stopped by as well — “The tourist who stopped, also a man, and who would have been happy to march with us was also a surprise,” Wilson adds. “Unfortunately he was headed to the city, but had he known in advance, he would have changed his plans.”  

Merritt told The Guardian that “You’re already thought of as weirdo if you just go for a walk here. So going out and protesting anything is a big deal.” Wilson agreed, responding with a resounding “Definitely not!” when asked if politically charged events are popular in Sandy Cove. Even so, negative reactions were few, and no one was “unpleasant,” just confused about the purpose of the march. Wilson’s husband felt that he “made some headway [in explaining the purposes of the march],” she reported, “so that’s a good thing!” 

Photo by Gary Wilson

In addition to having family in the States, Wilson feels that “the fact of our close relationship with the US, as a country; the influence the US has on our culture, and on our own government policy and economy cannot be ignored,” and adds that what happens with America’s political climate also affects Canada. This is why she and so many others are invested in protesting and resisting Trump’s actions — “It [Trump’s presidency] is detrimental to HUMAN rights.

We have all heard indications of what retrogressive actions are planned in relation to Women’s rights issues around health care, particularly freedom of choice around abortion, equal pay, etc…,” Wilson explains, and also touches on the tension and agression brewing in the States and worldwide, adding that “I fear this will only get worse as those who have harboured these feelings toward cultural minorities, have been given tacit permission to express their views in violent ways, with tragic outcomes.” Merritt shares these opinions, and told the Guardian that Washinton is miles away, but misogyny is everywhere. 

Hope is never lost, though — many people have been touched and inspired by the march in Sandy Cove. Comments on the video of the march posted by participant Khadijah Photiades are thankful, positive, and praising the unity and solidarity of the Sandy Cove women with millions around the world. Women share their stories in the comments, reaching out with love and support to each other in these unsure times.

Commenter Erin Fox shared her march story, saying that “I marched in Washington with approximately 1 million people, but the 15 of you filled my soul. I burst into tears reading this. Thank you. Y’all are amazing!!!” Becca Kate shares that sentiment, adding that “It’s so often we feel we are too small to change anything. Sometimes the one lone voice is much louder than the millions.”

Wilson’s favorite part of the experience?

“The fact that it happened at all! The feeling of joy and togetherness, acting in support of each other, and the feeling that we had participated in something much larger at such an important time in history.” We applaud Wilson, Merritt, and all of the marchers for their dedication to and support of the cause! In conclusion, she offers her message to you, colliegettes, and young women everywhere: “It has been a long time since we have seen so many young people out in the streets in direct response to political issues. Look up. Look out. Be aware. Be informed. Take action. You count. You can make a difference.” 

Photo by Gary Wilson

 

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