Organizers estimate that between 6,000 to 8,000 participants attended the march. Photo: Courtesy of the Women’s March, Ottawa Chapter.
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Second annual Women’s March in Ottawa sees new speakers, activities

On Saturday, Jan. 20, women and allies took to the streets of Ottawa for the second annual Women’s March, advocating for women and trans people of various intersecting identities.

Police and event organizers estimate that there were between 6,000 and 8,000 participants at the Ottawa march, while up to 50 other marches took place across the country on the same day, with various other cities in the United States also participating for the second year.

The event, which started at Parliament Hill and made its way down to the Bronson Centre, was co-led by Amanda Carver and Catherine Butler, who are part of the Women’s March, Ottawa Chapter.

The chapter hosts community tables and workshops throughout the year, working on initiatives such as supporting more women in politics, raising the voice of other marginalized groups, and taking collective action to end gender-based violence.

“The march came together in a very organic way,” said Carver. “We have some guidance from collaborating and having ongoing dialogue with women’s marches at national and international levels.”

The Jan. 20 march took place a day after the one-year anniversary of U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

In Ottawa, Carver says that they ran into few challenges, most of which can be chalked up to logistic issues.

The Ottawa Police have confirmed that there were no arrests or incidents at the march, however there were two male counter protesters at the corner of Laurier Avenue and Lyon Street who held up signs that read, “Men Matter Too” and “There are only two genders.”

This year, the organizing team made an effort to be more inclusive as a result of the feedback they received from the previous march.

“For example, as organizers we decided we were not wearing “pussy hats” to be inclusive of transgender women,” says Carver. “We also added a mobility bus to accommodate for mobility challenges, and ensured that we had ASL translation both at the hill as well as Bronson Centre.”

Sophie Rose, a second-year communications student at the University of Ottawa, says that this was her second year attending the march in Ottawa.

“My friends and I have started to look forward to it every year,” she said. “I think this year, especially with the ‘Me Too’ movement the energy was especially pretty high.”

Carver emphasizes that these marches are important because they make a collective statement about the state of women’s rights and making changes towards making our society more inclusive for all oppressed groups, including Indigenous groups, people of colour, LGBTQ2s.

“It’s a public commitment to keep fighting together to make this better,” she said. “If we don’t make big gestures like marches, these discussions get pushed out of the limelight and do not get the coverage required in traditional media and social media.”