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An estimated 4,000 take to downtown Calgary for Women’s March

By Melanie Woods, January 21 2016 —

Chants of “women’s rights are human rights” echoed across downtown Calgary as an estimated 4,000 people gathered in support of the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.

Adora Nwofor emceed the rally // Photo by Melanie Woods

Bearing signs with slogans ranging from “I’m with her” to “this pussy is not up for grabs,” Calgary marchers gathered at the Famous Five statue in Olympic Plaza and marched to Municipal Plaza at City Hall.

The march joined dozens around the world — many drawing hundreds of thousands of participants — in response to the inauguration of United States president Donald Trump.

The Calgary rally featured various speakers and performances, a Treaty 7 acknowledgement, indigenous drumming and a blessing. Calgary comedian and Femme Wave board member Adora Nwofor emceed the event.

“We have a call to action. Because yes, thank you for coming, yes thank you for being in the cold, yes thank you for raising your voices. But we need to carry on the journey,” Nwofor said. “Support your communities. Be loud. Be nasty.”


Sheri D. Wilson gave a rousing performance // Photo by Melanie Woods

Calgary poet laureate Micheline Maylor spoke and read a passage of poetry.

“I am nothing, but I am too all things,” Maylor recited. “By being all things, we live in a paradox — we recognize that inequality exists, but we can take care of ourselves and each other. Calgary, take care of each other.”

In her reading, local poet and activist Sheri D. Wilson called on the crowd to participate. She started her speech by highlighting why she was at the march.

“I am here today not for a man, not for anything that any man has said, like ‘keep your legs closed’,” Wilson said. “I am here for women, all women. This is about women in the language of women — how we speak about women for women [and] how we are treated. This is for the women and how we treat women.”


U of C student Rachel Malone  // Photo by Melanie Woods

The LoveBullies led the crowd in a rousing rendition of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.” The rally ended with a call and response traditional song led by Chantel Chagnon and Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes.

Many University of Calgary students were in the crowd. Engineering graduate student Rachel Malone said she was marching as a way to take action.

“I’m choosing hope instead of despair. I’m choosing action instead of fear because I am scared and I want to do something productive with that scared-ness,” Malone said. 


U of C student Jen Tokarek  // Photo by Melanie Woods

Fifth-year law and society student Jen Tokarek said she was marching in solidarity with those in Washington.

“I am marching in solidarity with women who seek equal rights — equal rights in office, equal rights as people. And in solidarity with those marching in Washington who actually have a president like Trump,” Tokarek said.

At the end of the formal proceedings, Nwofor concluded by calling the crowd to further action.

“Remember, there are other people in your community who can do exactly this and more and we must support them, today, tomorrow and forever,” Nwofor said. “Our voices matter, our actions matter, we matter.”


An estimated 4,000 participated in the march // Photo by Melanie Woods

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