Why We March
January 28th, 2017
On January 21, over 680 women, men, and children from around the Okanagan Valley rallied in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Marches, rallies, and gatherings took place around the world, with an impressive response that transcended the borders of the United States and spread throughout 81 other countries. The event paid tribute to Philadelphia’s Million Woman March, where African American women protested for their rights in 1997. This year, the marches were aimed at Donald Trump, taking place a day after his inauguration, in light of the offensive and inappropriate statements he made towards minority groups, immigrants, and women.
Though branded as a march globally, people gathered to rally at 10:00 a.m. by The Sails in Downtown Kelowna. The event was organized by two women, Beth Farrell and Alison Moore, both dual citizens of the United States and Canada, aiming to join their daughters and friends marching in Washington, D.C. Inspired by the call to action, the two women co-organized the rally that allowed Kelowna to be the 11th Canadian community to sign up for the event. The turn out of the people exceeded expectations, marking itself as the “largest gathering since the war on Iraq” to happen in Kelowna. The crowd buzzed with people holding up signs advocating equality, condemning bigotry, and asking for those responsible to step up to the plate. Several children accompanied their parents, hand in hand, as they listened to Beth Farrell speak her opening lines, “We share a common lineage, we’re all human. We share a common home, the Earth. This rally is not about protest, it’s about that connection: our tribal connection to each other.”
The rally included speakers that represented women’s rights, the LGBTQ+ community, the Westbank First Nations, and the community of migrants in agriculture. The wide range of speakers symbolized the intersectionality of feminism and its beliefs. “Each community has its own needs,” Alison Moore stated, commenting on the variety of speakers who joined in protest to protect their rights. “I expect that there will be a mobilization of energy and support for different causes in our communities,” she elaborated.
The speakers delivered speeches that celebrated the crowd. “This is powerful,” spoke Chief Roxanne Lindley, addressing the audience, “I see all four races, I see men, I see women, I see young, and I see old.” The event continued with its program of speakers, followed by an open mic session where several people stepped onto the stage of activism to share their thoughts, their worries, and their fears.
To some, a march or a rally might not seem as though it would have an impact; however, to the co-organizers Beth Farrell, Alison Moore along with the millions of people around the world who took their protests to the street, the opposite is correct. “We don’t have to wait and see,” said Moore, “the charge for all of us was that we came out and we listened. We need to step up to the plate and be active in voicing our concerns for a just society… There are people out there willing to help.”
Historically, peaceful demonstrations have indeed been a large component in democratic politics. In fact, the Women’s March on Washington alludes to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and no one can deny the impact of the civil rally in 1963 where Martin Luther King gave his iconic and powerful speech.