This Saturday, Jan 20, Fredericton is hosting its second annual Women’s March, starting at 2 p.m. in front of City Hall and passing by the legislature before ending back at City Hall.
Fredericton’s event is one of 40 sister marches happening across Canada as part of Women’s March Canada—an organization born from the energy and activism that emerged in wake of last year’s march on Washington, which occurred in retaliation to Donald Trump’s presidency.
Devin Rigaux is one of four organizers behind Fredericton’s march, and agreed to help facilitate the event after being asked by her mother Rhonda Connell, who attended last year’s march and told Rigaux of its powerful impact.
UNB adjunct professor Susan O’Donnell and community activist Kylie Bergfalk are the other two volunteer-members of the organizing team. Deputy mayor of Fredericton Kate Rogers—acting mayor at the time of the march—will be giving a speech prior to the event’s commencement.
The theme of this year’s women’s march is “looking back, marching forward,” which Rigaux says means “trying to take stock of what’s happened in the past year, to celebrate what we’ve accomplished but recognize that there’s a lot more that we have left to do.”
Following the march will be a feminist fair at Wilmost Church, scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Rigaux encourages people to make their way over once the march is over, and says there will be various equality groups present, along with a few snacks, and coffee courtesy of Read’s.
According to Rigaux, the idea of the feminist fair came from the desire to have the march facilitate coalition building between different women’s groups in the community.
“What we’re trying to do is build a community to work towards these goals year-round. Because there’s so many groups that do a lot of good work during the year—like I even learned about a ton of groups I didn’t know about.”
Groups that Rigaux and the other organizer’s have reached out to include Women for 50%, Equal Voice, Qmunity, Fredericton Gender Minorities, and the Gynocratic Art Gallery—an online gallery based out of Fredericton that’s interested in lending their support to artists “which may be undervalued in some, or many ways by the art world”, according to their website.
Last year’s march had around 200 participants said Rigaux, and they’re expecting 200-300 this year.
“I think that people are more interested this year, we’ve had a lot this year with the #metoo campaign, we have an election coming up, people who are politically involved are interested, so I think a lot of women are more ready to speak up when maybe they weren’t last year—like I know I personally am,” said Rigaux.
Over 150 people have replied as ‘Going’ on the march’s Facebook event, and more than 600 have said that they’re interested.
Rigaux says people have been making signs with the march’s theme on them, and that they’ve been knitting the iconic ‘pussy hats’ from last year’s march and selling them by donation through the group’s Facebook event and word of mouth.
“[The pussy hat symbol] was sort of like a response to Donald Trump saying ‘grab her by the pussy’ and stuff like that,” says Rigaux. “They wanted to do bright pink because it’s visible but also because its a colour traditionally associated with women and it’s sort of like, taking back the word, taking back autonomy of your body.”
“The idea with the pussy hats [too] is it gives a way for people who can’t physically participate, whether it’s like by wearing the hats or making the hats or posting a photo in them,” says Rigaux.
There will be a table at the event for people interested in helping form a more permanent group centred around the women’s march movement that would not only organize annual marches, but continue spreading its mandate year-round.
“We want to be able to create a group that can be active all year and we want to include as many people as possible,” Rigaux said. “We want the women’s march to be called the women’s march but to be for everybody.”