The “sister march” was one of over 600 massively successful anti-Trump protests
Thousands of peaceful protestors gathered at the Esplanade de la Place des Arts in downtown Montreal on Saturday as an act of solidarity with women and other marginalized groups that will be affected by Trump’s presidency. The Montreal Women’s March on Washington, which took place the day after Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, was part of the Canadian series of anti-Trump protests happening worldwide.
The protest was characterized by the creative signs brandished by protesters, many of them including feminist and social justice-themed messages, ranging from “climate change is real” and “love > fear” to “the pussy grabs back.” While the protests weren’t officially in support of former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, there were many signs featuring messages of support for the popular vote winner. Such signs included Clinton’s campaign’s slogan “I’m With Her” and references to Trump’s “nasty woman” insult from the third presidential debate, which later became a rallying cry for Clinton supporters.
Despite the angry tone of many protesters, the event focused on a hopeful message. In between performers and speakers, protesters chanted “all we are saying is give peace a chance,” and a popular slogan among protesters was “the future is still female.”
The event also featured pink tuques referred to as “pussy hats,” a reference to Trump’s infamous recorded conversation with Billy Bush in 2005 during which he proudly described behaviour that many view as harassment and sexual assault. The hats were featured prominently at Montreal’s rally and sister events worldwide.
Numerous human rights organizations endorsed the event, including Amnesty International, whose general director, Beatrice Vaugrante, served as a keynote speaker at the rally. Although the event was titled a women’s march, it focused on inclusion and included a diverse line-up of speakers, including Rachel Zellars, the executive director of the non-profit Girls Action Fund; trans rights activist Dalia Tourki, Indigenous rights activists Maitee Labrecque-Saganash and Viviane Michel, and Sue Montgomery, a journalist for The Montreal Gazette. Montgomery is well-known for starting #BeenRapedNeverReported, a social media campaign aimed at starting a conversation about the complex reasons many women choose not to report sexual assault.
“We are stronger than all those who believe our bodies are for their taking, all those who believe they can grab our pussies,” Montgomery said to the crowd in her speech, focusing on the strength and resilience of those disappointed by the election rather than the anger and sadness they feel.
The fact that the United States elected a president who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over a dozen women was one of the prominent issues discussed at the protest.
“That we have a president who’s even been thought to have [committed] sexual assault… I think that’s an incredible thing, that people have voted that into our highest position in our country,” said Meredith Rowe, an Ohio native and McGill University student who attended the Montreal rally.
While the majority of attendees were women, there were a number of male protestors at the event, and many attendees brought young children and grandchildren to the march.Bernard Morin, a protester who brought his young son, said he felt the event was a way to set an example for his child. “I want to make sure that his future is better than what could happen in the next few years. It’s an initiation for him,” Morin said.
While the original march took place in America’s capital, Global News claims that over 600 sister marches were held on every continent—including Antarctica. Demonstrations were held in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and a number of other Canadian cities on Saturday, along with the Montreal rally. Global News also estimated that 5,000 protesters showed up for the Montreal protest, while the Los Angeles Times estimated that about 500,000 protesters marched in Washington D.C. and at least three million more attended protests worldwide.
Check out our coverage of the Montreal Women’s March on Washington below.