Hundreds of women and allies heeded to the call of the Women’s March on January 19, 2019 in Fredericton and Saint John to call for their rights despite the frigid temperatures.
In Saint John, a joyful group of demonstrators gathered in King Square and marched to the Saint John City Market where presenters addressed the crowd. Participants were asked to bring new and gently worn women’s clothing to donate to local organizations.
In Fredericton, protesters of all ages gathered at City Hall, holding signs with slogans such as: “Sexism is not a side issue” and “Men of quality do not fear equality.” Representatives from various local unions including Unifor Local 4504 and CUPE were also present. Various groups of participants had also driven in from Moncton to participate.
After some bilingual opening remarks and chanting by the rally organizers, Kylie Berfalk and Geneviève Latour, the crowd took the streets under a police escort and circumnavigated the downtown area.
Chants such as and “Oui c’est oui et non c’est non,” “Justice for Indigenous women- find our sisters, bring them home!” and “My body my choice” were heard all along the demonstration’s path.
The March was followed by a bilingual panel at the Fredericton Public Library which featured four speakers and was moderated by Nadya Ladouceur. The Women’s March Fredericton organizers had selected four broad overlapping areas of discussion: health, economic security, representation and safety. The speakers were translated by a live translator for all participants.
Beth Lyons, Executive Director of the Women’s Council, spoke on the area of health and especially the findings of the recent Resonate surveys about women’s needs.
Artist and co-chair of Fredericton Gender Minorities, Indigo Poirier addressed the crowd on the issue of safety. Poirier reflected on her own personal experience of safety and some of the issues that still need to be addressed, such as trans-friendly health care.
Johanne Perron, Executive Director of the NB Coalition for Pay Equity, expressed her stance on the importance of economic security. According to Perron, there is still much to be done in the private sector despite the recent public sector pay equity legislation.
Finally, Nelly Dennene Executive Director of the Regroupement Féministe du Nouveau Brunswick, spoke about the centrality of women’s political representation in the province. Dennene, like many of her co-panelists, explained that “days like this make her love the work that she does, more and more.”
The almost two-hour panel, held in the Library’s beautiful gallery space, was standing room only and participants were eager to engage with the panelists on the subjects.
The Fredericton event was organized with the help of the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre, the UNB/STU University Women’s Centre, the Fredericton Public Library, the NB Coalition for Pay Equity, Fredericton Gender Minorities, and the UNB Centre for Enhanced Teaching and Learning.