Hundreds of women will assemble in downtown Winnipeg Saturday to walk in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands expected to attend the Women’s March on Washington in the American capital the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated.
In what is being reported as potentially one of the largest protests in U.S. history, nearly 200 groups have signed on to the main even as supporting partners. Additionally, at least 64 sister marches – including the Winnipeg action – are being organized in 32 countries in solidarity with the leading event.
Aly Raposo, women’s representative for the Arts Students Body Council and co-organizer of the Winnipeg march, said the event is inspired by Trump’s hate-fuelled campaign, during which the president-elect was repeatedly accused of misogynistic and racist behaviour. Other main organizers of the event include the Women’s Health Clinic, Black Space Winnipeg, and the Immigrant and Refugee Organization of Manitoba.
“A lot of it is sparked by Trump’s election and the hatred fuelling all of his campaigns, speeches, and slogans in the form of racism, sexism, transphobia, Islamophobia – everything,” she said.
“Everybody has a unique and diverse reason for why they want to march and why they would like to be a part of it,” she added.
“Winnipeg is really focusing on the minority groups. All of our keynote speakers are either people of colour, or queer, or any marginalized group in the community.”
The Winnipeg event will feature blessings and words from elder Mae Louise Campbell and will feature Amal Shire, Cynthia Fortlage, Joan Dawkins, and Johise Namwira as speakers.
Elizabeth McMechan, co-founder of the University of Manitoba Women’s and Gender Studies Student Association (WGSSA) and event co-organizer, said it is critical Canadian movements support their American counterparts.
“I think international support is really important for these groups in the United States who might have a really long road ahead with the new government,” she said.
“It’s really important that we show them that we care here up north – show them in numbers how much we care.”
Raposo explained why she felt it was important to help organize and take part in the event.
“I’m marching on behalf of all my LGBTTQIA friends who have a hard time living in the states now and for anyone here in Canada who’s going to be travelling to the States,” she said.
McMechan said that while the march is building off of an American movement, the underlying issues are global.
“I think it’s really important for issues like this that we consider it to be a global issue,” said McMechan. “It shouldn’t matter where the person is coming from.”
“I hope that this brings attention to any other sort of hate culture that’s developed anywhere else in the world so that we can work on it together and I hope it creates a really powerful base of people who are willing to rise up against hateful language,” she added.
Raposo agreed, saying the time has come to take action against hate.
“Honestly I think that people recognize when you have a person in power – with a lot of power – who has proposed to do a lot of really hateful things and who can do a lot of really hateful things, that it’s time to take action,” she said.
“If this happened in any other country, I would be marching still.”
The Women’s March on Washington – Winnipeg begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 with speeches in Portage Place followed by a march to the U.S. consulate at the corner of Portage Ave. and Main St.