Calgary

Why there's a local Women's March on Washington the day after Trump was sworn in

Hundreds of similar marches planned in cities around the world

INTL WOMENS DAY-MCCLUNG

Snow covers a Calgary statue of 'Famous Five' member Nellie McClung as she holds a 1929 announcement which helped give women the right to vote in Canada. The Calgary version of the Women's March on Washington will begin at these statues on Saturday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

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Originally published on Jan. 18.

Organizers hope thousands of people will turn out in downtown Calgary on Saturday — the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as U.S. president — to show solidarity with the Women's March on Washington.

The march in Calgary is one of hundreds planned across Alberta, Canada and around the world in an attempt to "show support of women's rights as an integral part of recognizing human rights," according to event organizers in Calgary.

The marches are all modelled after the Women's March on Washington in the U.S. capital, which is expected to draw as many as 200,000 people.

In Calgary, participants in the march will gather at 1 p.m. on Saturday in front of the Famous Five Statue at Olympic Plaza and walk to the plaza outside City Hall.

"We're taking a stand for and supporting women's rights, the rights of all women, to protest discriminatory attitudes, messages and actions that have emerged during and after the recent U.S. election," said Ashley Bristowe, communications manager for the Calgary event.

"I'm feeling like this is really resonating with people around the world, particularly women," she continued. "We are feeling that the U.S. election spoke directly to us in the sense that we are feeling like the clock is rolling back on equal rights."

Building community

Organizers of the march don't expect it's going to make Donald Trump step down or force immediate policy changes. Rather, the march in Calgary is about building community and showing people they're not alone, Bristowe said.

Ashley

Ashley Bristowe, left, and Joni Carroll are two of the women in charge of the Calgary March on Washington. (Supplied)

"Realistically speaking we're looking at ... raising awareness of how many like-minded people we are," she said. "We're seeing a resurgence of interest in making sure that women's voices are heard."

Roberta Lexier, who teaches general education and studies social movements at Mount Royal University, said the inauguration and march give people in Calgary and the rest of Canada a reason to come together.

"I think what's valuable in having those protests [here] is really to remonstrate that there is international solidarity for people in the U.S. dealing with these issues," Lexier said.

Standing up for women

"There haven't been a lot of opportunities in the past decade or so to really have these moments of protest, these opportunities to gather in the street and present a wide range of perspective," said Lexier.

"What's happening because of the Trump election ... is that people are awakening to a different way of effecting social change. People have become very complacent about elections and governments and relying on other people to make change in the world that they live in, and I think it's now immediately clear that it's up to people to make the change they want to see in the world."

But Lexier, who plans to attend the Calgary event, said Saturday's marches are about more than Trump. 

People are awakening to a different way of effecting social change - Roberta Lexier

"What it's really about is showing there's a wider range of people who are very concerned about issues relating to women and gender, and that this really is a global issue. Canadians are struggling with many of these issues as well," she said.

"The concern many people have is that Trump has created an environment that has naturalized and normalized a type of conversation and a particular type of behaviour around gender and around women that is really troublesome."

"A march like this really tries to challenge that normalization," Lexier added.

The event in Calgary will feature a number of speakers, including spoken-word artist Sheri-D Wilson, Calgary Poet Laureate Micheline Maylor, and Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers

It's open to everyone who "believes that women's rights are human rights," said Bristowe. 

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