The Fredericton March of Women garnered a turnout of hundreds despite last-minute organization.
Close to 500 people gathered in front of City Hall in Fredericton on Saturday, Jan. 21st, 2017, at 1 pm, to show solidarity to the Women’s March organized in Washington, D.C., in reaction to the new U.S.’s president’s blatant disregard for women’s rights.
The enthusiastic crowd first heard from Fredericton March organizer Marsha Clark. The next speakers were Najat Abdou-McFarland, from the NB Coalition for Pay Equity, and Nelly Dennene, Executive Director of the francophone feminist group, Regroupement Féministe du Nouveau Brunswick. RFNB’s delegation drove into Fredericton from Moncton especially for the event, armed with two colourful homemade banners and an large Acadian flag.
From the steps of City Hall, the Fredericton band Panda Bee Catastrophe delighted the crowd with a song from their debut EP, Consent is Sexy, released in the summer of 2016.
People of all ages, including entire families, held up creative hand-painted signs with feminist or other political slogans such as “Love Trumps Hate,” a refrain which developed from the recent U.S. election. There was also a smattering of pink “pussy” hats in the crowd knitted by participants especially for the march in reaction to Trump’s contempt for women.
The significant crowd marched from City Hall to the Legislature grounds, down Queen Street, garnering honks of support from passersby. At the NB Legislature, while it waited for all the participants to arrive, the crowd chanted slogans calling for the end of patriarchy, for solidarity, for the recognition of women’s rights, and other social justice slogans in French and English.
From the Legislature steps, Mary Milliken took the bullhorn as representative of Reproductive Justice New Brunswick. She spoke of her reasons for participating and some of the battles that remain to be fought in the province, including RJNB’s most recent campaign about abolishing regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act, that limits reimbursement for abortions to those done in hospital settings, creating restrictions to abortion access to all in the province. Abortions are only performed in hospitals in two cities in the provinces, Moncton and Bathurst.
The march was part of a global movement of women making their voices heard all over the world. In the Atlantic region, supporters were present in Halifax (where over 1,000 people gathered), Charlottetown, and Sydney. The march in St. John’s had to be cancelled because of inclement weather.
Sophie M. Lavoie is on the editorial board of the NB Media Co-op.