'Important for women and allies to come together': Hundreds turn out for Winnipeg Women's March

This year the Women’s March had a large focus on the social issues women in Manitoba face.

People in Winnipeg gathered on steps of City Hall for the Women’s March Saturday

Hundreds of people gathered at Winnipeg's City Hall on Saturday, January 20, 2018, rallying for women's rights. (CBC )

Hundreds of people in Winnipeg gathered on steps of City Hall for the Women's March Saturday — part of a series of protests taking place across the U.S. and Canada. 

Winnipeg organizer Basia Sokal, who is also president of the Winnipeg Labour Council, said last year's rally was heavily influenced by events in the U.S., on the heels of the then-recent inauguration of President Donald Trump.

This year the march — which came a year to the day after Trump's inauguration — had a particular focus on the social issues women in Manitoba face. Sokal highlighted unequal access to child care and health care in Manitoba as examples.

She said women in northern communities in the province struggle with inadequate access to the type of health care, drugs and services available in Winnipeg and Brandon.

MMIWG

Delores Daniels, the mother of Serena McKay, spoke to the crowd about her daughter's death. 

McKay was 19-years-old when she was killed last April. A video of her killing was posted to the internet, and is still circulating on some websites.

"She was a beautiful girl. She didn't deserve this. I'm here for her, and for all Indigenous women," Daniels said.

Delores Daniels, Serena McKay's mother, spoke to hundreds of people at City Hall during Winnipeg's Women's March.

Bernadette Smith, the NDP MLA for Point Douglas, is also the co-founder of the Manitoba Coalition of Families of Missing and Murdered Women in Manitoba, and the co-founder of the Drag the Red initiative, which searches the Red River for the remains of murdered women. Her sister, Claudette Osborne, went missing in 2008.  

Smith said when Osborne went missing her family didn't get a lot of help from the help from the community, saying race, gender and socioeconomic status were factors at play.

This year's rally comes in light of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, which aim to draw attention to the prevalence of harassment and sexual assault against women. (CBC )

"We're thankful that people are [now] starting to get the message that this isn't just about Indigenous issues, this isn't just about women. It's about everyone," Smith said.  

Manitoba's Minister for the Status of Women, Rochelle Squires, said the day was perfect for the march.

"It was a wonderful day today in Winnipeg as several hundred women gathered — men and women," said Squires. "It was so great to see men join the rally today and stand in solidarity with women."

The province announced initiatives and an awareness campaign aimed at combating sexual and domestic violence this past week, and Squires said those issues were top of mind while she and others marched.

"We are not really where we need to be in terms of eradicating gender-based violence," she said.

Other issues people talked to her about were pay equity for women and timely access to quality child care, she said. 

Global conversation

This year's rally comes in light of movements like #MeToo and #Time'sUp, which aim to draw attention to the prevalence of harassment and sexual assault against women.

"I think it's important for women and allies to come together and to show we're determined, we're there to support each other," said Mary Scott, a board member at the International Institute for Women's Rights who also attended the rally on Saturday.

"It's important to be there, to have a presence, to make a statement by coming together."