Solidarity sisters! Why Canadians are joining the Women's March on Washington

Canadian women who disavow the policies and presidency of Donald Trump are participating in the Women's March on Saturday in the U.S. capital and at home.

'We want to make sure our neighbours know they are not alone,' says Canadian in Washington march

A man and woman share a moment as demonstrators gather in support of the Women's March on Washington in Halifax on Saturday. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Canadian women who disavow the policies and presidency of Donald Trump are participating in the Women's March on Saturday in the U.S. capital and at home.

Women donning "pussyhats" — pink hats with cat ears — headed south in buses and cars to take part in the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, which had drawn an estimated 500,000 protesters, when 200,000 had been expected.

"It's important to be vigilant, we can't take the rights we have for granted," said Delia Greco, who with a friend drove to Washington from Toronto.

Her friend Emily Hartman added: "We want to make sure our neighbours know they are not alone."

Their signs note they are Canadian and that apparently makes them popular. "Everyone is excited to see Canadians," said Hartman.

Wendy Robbins, a professor at the University of New Brunswick who travelled to Washington, said there were "gazillions of people" at the march.

"There's a lot of young women, like 10-year-olds with very sophisticated messages," she added.

Kevin Donahue, Washington's deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said on Twitter that organizers of the march estimate the turnout to be over half a million people.

A crowd fills Independence Avenue during the Women's March on Washington on Saturday in Washington. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Demonstrators at Saturday's march included gun safety advocates, environmentalists, and human rights and women's rights activists. A series of solidarity marches in cities across Canada and around the globe unfolded at the same time. 

Gillian Sonin, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Women's March group, says eight buses travelled to Washington. 

"This march, this movement, has given thousands of women across the country — and millions around the world — a way to show our collective power," she told CBC News.

Toronto's Lisa Kinsella, in an interview before she left for Washington, said she planned to travel with her stepdaughter. She was particularly disturbed by comments Trump made on the campaign trail regarding women, immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians. 

"The Women's March on Washington will send a strong message to president-elect Trump and his government that women's rights are human rights," said Kinsella in an email interview. "It will let him know that the world is watching, and that women stand together, regardless of our citizenship." 

Gillie Chartier and Stephanie Davreux, in Saskatoon, showed their support for the Women's March through lyrics from Beyoncé songs. (Alicia Bridges/CBC News)

Similarly, Doreen Brazier of LethbridgeAlta., says she was upset by Trump's victory. Brazier has joined the Pussyhat Project, a grassroots movement that encouraged activists to knit hats with cat ears on top to wear at the Women's March on Washington. The hats refer to Trump's lewd comment that he could grab women with impunity.

30 marches across Canada

A total of 30 marches will be held on Saturday in Canada. Thousands are expected to participate in Toronto and Vancouver.

Prostesters braved -20 C temperatures in a march in Yellowknife.

"I'm standing for what's right," said demonstrator Meghan Housley.

Stacey Tates was one of the many women who wore a pink pussyhat during the march in Saskatoon.

"It's sad that we have to deal with something like this again," she said.

"We've gone through a suffrage movement, and it's kind of like [another] suffrage movement, but it's historical and it's something that we will be able to tell our children and our grandchildren."

Organizers estimated that around 60,000 people came out for the Saturday march in Toronto. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Lindsay Peets in Montreal wore a pink toque, too.

"It's important for us to show solidarity, to show what we stand for as Canadian citizens," she said. 

"This is more than just an American issue. I think this rally — more than just showing solidarity — is showing that we as Canadians stand for equal rights."

Demonstrators in Vancouver take part in a Women's March Vancouver outside of the city's downtown Trump Tower. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Wendy MacAskill of Sackville, N.S, was one of the over 1,000 people who gathered in Halifax for a rally at the Grand Parade in the city's downtown.

"I came here today because the election had me feeling despondent," she said.

"On behalf of the girls and women in my family, I felt it was my duty to come here today — be active and involved and aware."

This group of students gave out free hugs on Montreal's Sainte-Catherine Street to boost people's morale during that city's Women's March. From left to right: Charlotte Durford-Dionne, Corin Volfson, Dominique Gravel, Emma McLaughlin. (Elysha Enos/CBC)

Singer k.d. lang planned to attend the rally in Calgary. She tweeted that she will not be performing at the event but rather, "I imagine I will be yelling!"

Sonnet L'Abbé, the Nanaimo spokeswoman for the Canadian Women's March, says 250 people have signed up for the protest in her city.

The march was conceived when Teresa Shook, a retired attorney in Hawaii, posted a call on Facebook for women to march on Washington around the time of Trump's inauguration.

The idea took hold and attracted other activists who wanted to join. Noted feminist Gloria Steinem and civil rights activist and singer Harry Belafonte are honorary co-chairs of the event.