Over 100 people converged on the grounds of the Alberta legislature on Saturday afternoon in support of survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The March On Edmonton Collective said this weekend’s #MeToo rally was also aimed at moving “beyond the hashtag” associated with breaking the silence on sexual misconduct.
“I think that there’s a lot of support for this, not only in Edmonton, but all over the place,” said Paula Kirman, a co-organizer of the Edmonton rally. “The #MeToo movement in the last year has gained a lot of ground. I think the success of the women’s march movement has had a lot to do with that.
“Since then, the #MeToo movement has kind of exploded as well.”
The #MeToo hashtag was popularized in October by Alyssa Milano. The actress credits social activist Tarana Burke with first using the phrase online over a decade ago – when she tweeted: “Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'”
Watch below: Actress Alyssa Milano launched the #MeToo hashtag on Oct. 15, 2017, to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
“In honour of International Women’s Day, this rally is in support of the strong survivors who added their voice to #MeToo, and to demonstrate that any act of harassment or assault is wrong,” the March On Edmonton Collective said on its Facebook page for the event. “We believe survivors.
“Now, let’s make sure every institution they touch is strengthened to support them.”
Saturday’s rally called for more access to counselling services for survivors as well as training for judges and police and consent education for children.
Earlier this week, the Alberta government announced it is putting $8.1 million towards expanding front-line support services — including a province-wide phone, text and chat line — in response to more sexual assault survivors coming forward to seek help.
“The announcement of the provincial government this week has been absolutely tremendous and I think will go a long way towards achieving that goal,” Kirman said. “There’s always more to be done but I think this government has been quite supportive.”
Watch below: On March 7, 2018, Kendra Slugoski filed this report about what Alberta is planning to do to address increased reporting of sexual assaults.
Among the people who were slated to speak at Saturday’s rally were Karen McPherson, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, human rights and LGBTQ+ activist Chevi Rabbit and Debra Tomlinson, CEO of the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.
Watch below: On Jan. 20, 2018, Julia Wong reported on the Edmonton Women’s March.
The March On Edmonton Collective also organized the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches in Edmonton.
Kirman said she believes the women’s march movement and the #MeToo movement are continuing to grow because “women feel more empowered to speak out now.”
Watch below: On Feb. 27, 2018, Jennifer Crosby sat down with journalist Sally Armstrong who has been called the war correspondent for the world’s women, covering issues like rape camps, genocide and sex slavery targeting teens.