Windsor marchers head home after Women's March on Washington
Bus trip organizer Pat Papadeas: 'It was a sea of people ... you felt love, you felt energy'
They came. They saw. They conquered. And now, they're heading home.
"To be honest, I really don't want to leave," said Anchal Bhatia, one of 53 Windsor women who travelled by bus from Windsor, Ont., for Saturday's Women's March on Washington.
"Every corner, everywhere I looked, someone is fighting for something, demanding their rights, chanting. It's incredible."
The bus trip got off to a slow start, waiting nearly three hours to clear customs at the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel. But that was a distant memory after hearing the "roars" from the crowd in D.C.
"It was a sea of people — but lovely people. Nobody pushed, nobody shoved, you felt love, you felt energy," said Pat Papadeas, who heard about the March on Washington shortly after the U.S. election and quickly began organizing a busload of Windsorites.
"As soon as they were finding out [we're Canadian], they were hugging us, kissing us … saying, 'Thank you Canadians!'
"I'm so glad we came."
"It was just humbling that our American sisters are just in gratitude of us being here. But I was honest with them. I told them we have our issues in Canada, too, but together we can fix something because discrimination and racism are global issues," said Christine Maclin, who brought her 19-year-old daughter on the trip.
The Windsor bus was one of 10 Canadian contingents that went to D.C.
Fifty-four women signed up but after a last-minute cancellation, Charles Kahelin filled the empty seat.
"Thank you so much for welcoming and letting me show solidarity," he said as group members took turns reflecting on the march during the bus ride home.
There was a wide diversity of ages and ethnicities on this bus, from students and international students to retirees. Many were first-time marchers who say they felt compelled to act — and support their American sisters.
'I've always been political in my heart but I'm not outwardly demonstrative," said teacher Joelle Nagle.
"So many other people were verbalizing what was in my heart," added longtime auto worker Terry Weymouth.
Rubaina Singh, an international student living in Windsor, but also taking classes in Detroit, said the large crowd energized her and reinforced her beliefs.
"It was very nice to see how people came together from all walks of life, from every corner of the world, to be together and demand the same rights and same notions and same ideas," the 24-year-old said.
"With enough people joining together, change can be made if we stick with it and hold our leaders to account and I think that [President Donald] Trump has been put on notice that the American people — and people around the globe are paying attention," said Michelle Mainwaring.
"So he's going to have to step up to the plate or step down."
Laura Turner lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., but chose to cross the border twice and board the bus in Windsor with her sister.
"It's never been 'America First' but the world first for me."