By JOY STRUTHERS
On Saturday, Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump became the president of the United States, women of the world took a stand. The Women’s March on Washington was by far the largest protest, with hundreds of thousands of participants.
In fact, the crowd was so large that there was no room left to march. The route had to be changed, and people marched to the Ellipse, an area between the Washington Monument and the White House, instead of straight to the White House.
It has been reported by multiple sources that more people turned out to the Women’s March on Washington (an estimated 500,000) than did for the president’s inauguration.
Metro subway stations and train cars were full, and ridership numbers were higher than the day before. Metro tweeted that 275,000 people had taken trips on the subway by 11 a.m. Saturday. This was compared to 193,000 trips Friday by the same time.
At least 600 marches and rallies were held across the world, involving over a million people. Thousands of people gathered in Canada, with the largest groups being in Toronto and Vancouver.
In Guelph, the crowd gathered peacefully in front of City Hall in Market Square. Hundreds of women, children and men congregated to show support for all the others who marched and protested against the inauguration of Donald Trump and for the rights of all people.
The warmer temperatures encouraged many to come out with their families, and the rain held off although the skies were grey. It was easy to linger and enjoy the atmosphere. People held signs and wore pink hats and shirts with slogans. They proudly participated, applauding and cheering and supporting the women who stood in a garden to speak to the crowd for the open mic.
The rally was only planned a few days before to fill a need. Many women wanted to be involved and show solidarity but were not able to attend larger protests. Guelph is the type of city in which people support equal rights and fair treatment of all and have very strong voices.
Bree Woods and Leanne Krick knew they wanted to protest in Guelph and decided to take action. They set up a Facebook page and started to contact people.
“We talked to Toronto and they let us use their words,” said Krick. “It was all out there.”
Woods and Krick are friends who joke that they want to take on the world.
“I’m passionate about the community as a whole and about the rights of others. I didn’t see something happening and I knew we could inspire people to come together,” said Woods.
Woods passed out different coloured markers to people who lined up to sign a large handmade card that is being sent to Washington.
The front of the card read, “We stand for equality, justice, tolerance for all.”
Debbie Samson, who was born in South Africa, spoke to the crowd about apartheid. In 1956 over 20,000 women marched to end pass books. Black men and women at the time had to carry passes to work in urban areas.
She quoted Winnie Mandela and a famous resistance song.
“When you strike a woman, you strike a rock,” Samson said.
Women of all ages got up to say a few words, and a few sang songs. Two women read from a children’s book. The crowd joined in and sang the folk song If I had a Hammer.
A dual citizen, Amanda Hammond said she packed up her children and drove back to vote in Michigan. She strongly feels that women need to speak up.
“I’m so glad we’re here with all the love and positivity, but also remember your anger. So much as women we are told not to be angry, angry makes us ugly … We’re supposed to be nice, be sweet, but this is the time to acknowledge your anger and hang on to it, and do something with it. Don’t be afraid to be such a nasty woman,” Hammond said.