Canadians across the country march to end violence against women

Women and their allies participated in marches across Canada on Saturday, from large cities to tiny villages, demanding the advancement of the rights of women and other vulnerable groups.

Attendance for the annual march in the small fishing village of Sandy Cove, N.S., exploded this year to 50 people, two years after the first march charmed the internet with its small-scale demonstration of just 15.

Farther west, a group of roughly 150 braved frigid temperatures that dipped below -22 C to hold a rally in a downtown park in Montreal.

Jumping and stomping their feet to keep warm, attendees waved an assortment of handmade signs demanding justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, an end to sexual harassment and abuse, and basic gender equality.

Caroline Alince, 19, said she felt like the cold was a “metaphor” for the strength of those fighting for equality.

“No matter what the conditions are, there’s no excuse to not fight for women’s rights and stand in solidarity, no matter what the day is,” she said.

In Toronto, a crowd outside city hall also braved extremely cold weather to hear from speakers before they marched.

“As we march today, let’s think about the trans women of colour who are not here today because of systemic violence,” said advocate Yasmeen Persad, a transgender woman from the Caribbean.

Speakers in Toronto also called attention to the Ontario government’s repeal of the modernized sex-ed curriculum and this week’s announcement of changes to post-secondary tuition and grants.

“This provincial government is not open for business,” said Farrah Khan, mocking one of the Doug Ford government’s key slogans.

Khan, who advocates for sexual violence support and education, said the Progressive Conservative government “does not support women.”

Marches were organized across the world on Saturday in solidarity with those marching in Washington, D.C. The movement started in the U.S. following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

The movement also works towards protecting reproductive rights and acknowledging issues faced by the LGBTQ community, Indigenous people, immigrants, workers and people with disabilities.

In Vancouver, a crowd showed support for the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation by chanting “No consent, no pipeline” as a natural gas pipeline is planned for the community’s traditional territory.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also participated in the Vancouver march, which he called an “incredibly powerful movement.

“It’s been far too long that we’ve seen oppression and injustice and inequality, so to be a brother standing in solidarity with my sisters is an honour,” said Singh, who’s hoping to win a federal byelection in the nearby riding of Burnaby South.

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