Women’s March in Hamilton

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By Shahzi Bokhari

On Saturday January 21, 2017, over 1,000 Hamiltonians rallied in one of over 600 ‘sister’ marches worldwide to the Women’s March on Washington. It is estimated that 3 million participated globally in the March.

Here at Hamilton’s City Hall, organizers decided to forego a march and hold a two-hour rally instead for accessibility concerns due to the overwhelming estimated attendance.  Anna Davey and Tanya Ritchie, two community-oriented Hamiltonians, took initiative on hosting a local march. With a late start (just four days of planning time), the overwhelming turnout proved the event to be well desired. The support of late joining co-organizers Anne Tannier, Laura Cattari, and SPRC’s Shahzi Bokhari helped bring the event together and ensured that the event was as inclusive as possible with consideration to time constraints.

Speakers talked about global and local issues around sexism, misogyny, anti-Black racism and other forms of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty, issues that Indigenous communities face such as housing and homelessness, environmental concerns, and more. Speakers also talked about the importance of ally-ship and speaking out when we witness discrimination and prejudice. Speakers encouraged attendees to continue the momentum by joining local initiatives and groups, by supporting women’s organizations, by un-learning and re-learning labels and societal structures, honouring intersectionality and bringing focus to marginalized voices.

The list of 12 speakers included: (in order) Shahzi Bokhari – SPRC; Denise Christopherson – CEO, YWCA Hamilton; Lynda Lukasik – Environment Hamilton; Cierra Garaway – McMaster Womanists; Tracy Hudson – Democrats Abroad Canada; Nrinder Nann – Holistic nutritionist and Ward 3 resident; Mary Long – Past president, Hamilton and District Labour Council; Evelyn Myrie – community organizer, CEO of Empower Strategy Group; Erin O’Neil and Melissa Knowles – SACHA volunteers; Anne Tennier – Former federal Liberal Party candidate for Hamilton Centre; Gachi Issa – Westdale student, McMaster Womanists; Laura Cattari – Advocacy Hamilton.

Performers included Gillian Nicola, Anne Marie Pavlov, Rita Chiarelli and the Pussycats.

The peaceful, high-energy rally ended with a drumming circle led by women who introduced themselves as Kristen, Pebbles, and Julie. The circle dance was led by community member named Terry.

Photo of Shahzi Bokhari speaking by Paul Glendenning

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