More than 3,000 people gathered at Calgary’s Famous Five monument in front of Arts Commons Saturday, a symbol of women’s determination.
The thousands in attendance shutdown MacLeod Trail by City Hall and were determined to unleash a popular movement to support the Women’s March on Washington.
The peaceful protest began at 1 p.m., with a number of speakers and performers voicing their support of women’s right.
The Calgary march is an offshoot of the larger march taking place in Washington D.C., one day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. It is one of 10 marches taking place across Canada and joins many others being held around the world.
Many of those who attended the event said they never thought about attending a rally of any type, until now.
“It’s giving me goosebumps. It’s phenomenal. I’ve almost, for a split second, wanted to say thank you to Trump for causing these people to unify and stand up and raise awareness to human rights …. and making people come together in such a positive, loving caring way,” Diane Fukami, first time protester, said. “I’m just pro human decency and respect and support women and minorities.”
Mark Stovel attended the event with his wife and daughter and said it’s to “demonstrate that we can stand together and fight against the ignorance and hatred that exists out there.”
“There’s a sign back there (in the crowd) that says I won’t be pushed back into the 1950s and that’s exactly it. I thought we were done protesting this stuff but it needs to be protested again,” Stovel said.
“It was such an ugly, ugly campaign and I think it’s really important for us to rally here and show our support for everything that is decent and good in the world. It’s wonderful to see all these Calgarians out today,” Bridget Schnell, a protester, said.
For some young parents, it was a chance to do their part for their daughters.
“We want to make sure that our little girl grows up in a world where women are respected it’s pretty much a simple as that,” Marek Jacina, said.
The message protesters sent from their shouting and signs, was that discrimination will not be tolerated.
“Hopefully get the message gets through to Trump, but I doubt that he’ll get it,” Marion Moore said.
A handful of Trump supporters came out, resulting in some lively conversation.
“Why aren’t people marching for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia or in Muslim countries? But no, it’s women’s rights in America? I’m pretty sure women have rights in America,” Kayna Hardman said.
Calgary organizers hope the world-wide marches put pressure on the President Trump on issues like reproductive rights and immigration.
I’m overwhelmed by the turnout……this is phenomenal.” Grant Neufeld, community activist, said. “My hope is that people will take the energy that we’re experiencing here together today and try to connect and work to make things better. Whether that’s on a local basis in their own community or neighbourhood or working on larger social issues that extend across our province, our country and the world as a whole.”
Monica Kretschmer, with the Canadian Business Chicks organization, said she’d like to see the march become even bigger next year.
“I think this is great, I love to see all the people coming down and supporting to raise awareness and we’ve got a really great chance of making a difference,” Kretschmer said.
“Women need the right to have rights over their bodies and it’s scary what’s happening down there. I don’t want to see any of that trickling up here to Canada,” Sarah Krose, protester said. “I want my little girl to grow up in the world that we’ve become accustomed to. We want her to be valued and respected.”
Canadians gathered for the “sister marches” across the country, including in Edmonton at the Alberta Legislature.