Hundreds of people packed the grounds of the Alberta Legislature Saturday afternoon for the city’s second annual women’s march.
The march was held in conjunction with other rallies across Canada and south of the border.
Photo Gallery: Across Canada, women march in solidarity
Initiated last year after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the marches were a place for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to fight for women’s rights, inclusion and diversity.
March organizer Paula Kirman, who is part of the March On Edmonton Collective, said Saturday’s rally was meant to keep the momentum going.
“Keep women’s rights in the forefront of people’s minds and conversations,” she said.
Kirman said she believes more women have become emboldened to speak out about issues such as gender-based violence and harassment, citing the #MeToo movement. That movement was prompted by people sharing their experiences with sexual harrassment on social media and has led to some high-profile individuals like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer to lose their jobs.
“It’s a question of moving beyond the hashtag and into action,” she said.
Kirman said an Alberta-specific issue she would like to see an end to is the bullying of female politicians.
“We want to elevate the level of speech in our province. We want people to be able to disagree without being insulting,” she said.
Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman was one of several speakers at the event. She called the rally “a beautiful gathering” of people standing for equality and against injustice.
Hoffman said she herself has experienced vitriol from people simply because she is a female politician.
“It’s not right for women to be targeted and the sexual violence is particularly, I think, impactful. We are here today as Albertans saying it’s not okay,” she said.
Protesters displayed their causes in brightly-coloured signs, with slogans reading “Women’s rights are human rights,” “Justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls now” and “Everyone has a right to live without violence.” Other signs read “I march against sexual abuse” and “Stop gender-based violence.”
Those in the crowd said issues that concern them include pay equity, LGBTQ issues and access to healthcare.
“If we stand up, we’re making a message, we’re making a point,” Monica Metzler said.
Craig Gilmour attended the rally with his family, including his five-year-old daughter.
“As a father and as a member of society, I believe people should be involved in events like this, whether you’re five-years-old or 40-years-old. It’s something I felt my daughter should experience and she should experience with us as a family,” he said.
Gilmour said the family wanted to show their support for equality for women and respect for women and men.
“Just day-to-day respect – to not have to worry about walking down the street whether you are alone… and having someone just yell something out randomly,” he said.
Chantal Dorais said being in the crowd was enough to realize she was not alone in her fight.
“Everyone here is wanting to come together and do better things. We can see everyone wanted to come together and work together to address these issues.”